Asheville city officials propose 2.5% pay increase for employees in upcoming budget

City officials presented the 2019-2020 budget to Asheville city council Tuesday night. (Image: WLOS)

City officials presented the 2019-20 budget to Asheville city council Tuesday night.

"Every work session, I've been talking about compensation because we have turnover rates that are very, very scary," city manager Debra Campbell said.

Campbell said in order to address that, she's proposing a 2.5 percent pay raise for all city employees.

"A lot of the exit interviews are based around salary and what we're able to pay," Campbell said.

It's an issue all across the board.

"Our new hires start out at about $11.33 an hour," Asheville Firefighters Association president Scott Mullins said.

Mullins said he, and his colleagues, deserve more.

"The job is already dangerous enough," he added. "They should be compensated, at market value, for what they do."

Some council members believe the proposal is fine the way it is.

"I am perfectly comfortable with what is being proposed here by the city manager," Councilman Vijay Kapoor said.

Not everyone agreed with him.

Councilman Keith Young believes there's another way the city should look at this growing problem.

"My recommendation would be that we take a portion of that 2.5 percent that represents $1.9 million, and you mentioned the $400,000, would be to raise all those individuals in our organization up to $15," said Young.

"You're going to have people making $15 an hour who may have two to three years of service,and someone who's got five years of service maybe having $15.10 an hour," rebuttled Kapoor.

Mullins said no matter how you look at it, everyone deserves more than what they're making right now.

"This would be the third year in a row where they're just essentially giving a cost of living adjustment to all city employees," he said.

The public hearing on the city budget is set for May 28.

Asheville firefighters plan to be there to voice their concerns.