WILMINGTON -- A sea of yellow shirts greeted Wilmington City Council members at their meeting last night. Dozens of firefighters turned out, asking the city council to raise their salaries in the new budget. Firefighters, their families and friends walked to Tuesday's City Council meeting, all wearing yellow T-shirts showing solidarity. They want higher pay, money they say, they deserve. Wilmington Firefighters Association President Tom Robinson said, "For the firefighters right now seeing a raise in salary would boost the morale." The Wilmington Fire Department conducted a study that shows the City has the lowest starting salary for firefighters compared to other comparable cities around us. It runs about 15 percent less than New Bern and Cary, and the cost of living here is much higher. Firefighters' families say it's often hard to make ends meet. Angelica Humphrey is married to firefighter. She said, "This is the job that he's always wanted to do, and the fact that he struggles and has to work so much overtime just so we can live a good life, just a normal life, is really hard on all of us." Firefighters asked City Council to raise their salaries in next year's budget. Councilwoman Pat Delair suggested a five percent increase in pay to be added in. The request was met with thunderous applause. But the outcome doesn't look good. A suggested one-cent tax increase to fund firefighters' raises didn't even receive a second. It died right there. Nothing is final yet, and it's possible the motion could be presented to the City Council again. City council will hold the budget review at the next meeting, before the final version of the budget is presented for a council vote. It appears that it's not likely firefighters will receive a raise in this next fiscal year.
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