N. Carolina mayor wants to hike salaries for 900 city workers

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FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (AP) — A North Carolina mayor wants to increase salaries for hundreds of city workers, saying he recently learned only a portion of such workers can afford to live in the city.

Fayetteville Mayor Mitch Colvin on Monday proposed raising the salaries of all full-time city employees to a “livable wage” of $16 per hour, The Fayetteville Observer reports.

He said he asked city manager Doug Hewett how many workers could afford to live in Fayetteville and learned only 700 out of 1,600 could afford the average monthly rent of $819.

He said a study showed a $16 hourly wage would change that.

“We have to make sure that everybody that works for the organization is paid a wage in which they can actually live in the city,” he said Wednesday.

“Right now, that number appears to be $16 an hour, so everyone in the organization should be at that if you are a full-time employee.”

And it’s doable, he said.

“At the end of the day, investing in people is a priority. We find the money for other priorities. I think we can do it if you look across the organization,” he said, suggesting the city could even dip into its cash reserves.

Councilman Johnny Dawkins questioned whether a $16 hourly wage was needed for all employees.

“As the only Republican on the council, I’m in agreement with the mayor for our lowest-paid employees. We need to bump the pay up,” Dawkins said.

“We aren’t going to get everybody to $16 dollars an hour. We’ve got some people at $10 and $11 that we probably need to get to $12, and some people at $12 we probably need to get to $13 or $13.50.”

The mayor said he plans to propose the pay hike at the Jan. 6 City Council work session.

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