Winston-Salem city leaders pass police, fire pay increase

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- The City of Winston-Salem took action Monday night to fatten the paychecks of police officers and firefighters starting in February.

The move greenlights a 2 percent pay increase for all officers with at least one year of experience for the 2015-16 fiscal year. That amounts to $708,120 total.

In 2016-17, the 2 percent increase, merit based increases and 1 percent market adjustment for non-public safety employees will require an additional $2,957,990.

Winston-Salem city leaders said the forthcoming pay increase is part of its goal to increase pay by 7.5 percent over the next few years to help the city keep up with salaries for emergency responders across the Triad and North Carolina. A pay survey conducted for the city found that on average they are paid about 10 percent below what police and fire earn in comparable cities.

“By putting this in effect, of course it will help us to be able to recruit new officers and also retain our current officers,” said Chief Barry Rountree. “We see from time to time when officers leave Winston-Salem and go to another agency in the Piedmont Triad for a few thousand dollars.”

They pay issue surfaced as a priority late last year when a police officer brought the idea of a pay increase to city council though Chief Roundtree said discussions have been underway for several years.

“They realize that this is an important issue,” said Rountree. “This is not a new issue we’ve talked about this over the last few years and then with the recent things that happened I’m glad they were able to move at the pace they moved.”