N.C. City Warned Firefighter Pay Will Cause Crisis

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- A city-appointed task force told Charlotte's leaders they need to change the way police and firefighters are paid if they want to avoid a budget crisis. Mayor Anthony Foxx formed the Citizen's Budget and...


CHARLOTTE, N.C. --

A city-appointed task force told Charlotte's leaders they need to change the way police and firefighters are paid if they want to avoid a budget crisis.

Mayor Anthony Foxx formed the Citizen's Budget and Efficiency Task Force last year.

The nine-person group shared its findings on Monday.

The group recommended the city restructure the pay scale for public safety.

The current scale ensures many officer and firefighters get a 5 percent pay raise each year in addition to what other city employees get.

The task force said by 2013, the amount the city pays for public safety will be more than the revenue generated by taxes, and that the disparity will continue to get worse.

The head of the task force, Cyndee Patterson, told the council that changes must be made now.

"They've (the city has) squeezed enough out of the rest of the organization that there's nowhere to go now to find savings in other departments that you can then layer over to the police and fire departments," Patterson said.

Eyewitness News asked Mayor Anthony Foxx if the city is ready to change the way it pays for safety.

"I think the better question is -- are we prepared for a train wreck in a couple years?," Foxx said, "and the answer is 'no.' The responsible thing for us to do is be honest about it, transparent about it, and to start working on a plan."

Foxx said the task force report will be sent to the budget committee for further review.

He also said he wants to establish a staff team made up of council members, firefighters and officers.

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