STATESVILLE, N.C. (WBTV) - Some firefighters in Statesville are questioning a measure passed by the Statesville City Council on Monday. They say the City Council voted to make pay adjustments that increased pay for some city employees, but not for them.
The proposal was to make salary adjustments for any city employee making less than $15 an hour. It passed 7-1 after some discussion, affecting 29 workers across 9 departments.
When the meeting ended and word got out, some firefighters said ‘what about us?’ The Statesville Professional Firefighters Organization posted a message on Facebook that said: “Statesville City Council passes $15 per hour for all City employees.... Wait for it..... Yep, firefighters are excluded! The message is simple. Work more hours and receive less pay!”
The city manager said today it’s not that simple.
“They were not left out. Firefighters are just paid in a different way based on the hours that they work in a typical year,” said Statesville City Manager Ron Smith. “We pay them differently than we pay a standard, eight-hour shift employee. Without getting into all the details of how that works I don’t think that would be immediately affected. We are going to spend some time going back to try and deal with their starting pay though.”
Since firefighters are paid differently, some at the low end would make less than $15 an hour. Smith admits that starting salaries for Statesville firefighters are lower than in surrounding areas and hopes that will soon be addressed.
“Any pay adjustments that I would bring back before council would include starting pay for firefighters,” Smith said.
Statesville City Councilman Frederick Foster added “We are going to do right by our firefighters, we just don’t want them to think we don’t care, we do, we love them guys to death, they do a great job for us.”
Scott Mullins, President of the Professional Firefighters and Paramedics of North Carolina, said that while local firefighters are proud that city leaders recognized “the dignity” of its workers, they don’t understand why that didn’t extend to them.
“The mayor, city council, says it values firefighters, but the budget says otherwise,” Mullins said.
Mullins said that the city manager did speak with firefighters and told them that he is working towards a plan that could come in October that would result in pay increases.
“Our firefighters say they’ve heard that before and they’re afraid that more of the same is coming,” Mullins added.
Mullins says he believes the firefighters have the support of the community with this issue. He is urging residents to let council members know how they feel when it comes to pay for firefighters.