The City of Durham is conducting its final virtual Community Conversation meeting to gather public input on crucial issues for the upcoming budget. These meetings aim to engage the community and address various topics, including affordable housing and public safety. Previous sessions, with an attendance of 75 to 100 people, have covered a range of subjects.
The city has faced challenges, notably in the areas of firefighting and sanitation services. Wage increases have been a focal point, with sanitation workers staging a walkout in September, affecting over 88,000 households. City leaders had to enlist contractors to manage some trash pickup duties. The workers returned to their jobs, and city employees, including sanitation workers, received a one-time bonus based on salary.
Tensions around wage concerns were highlighted during a recent rally on MLK Day, where city workers advocated for a minimum wage of $25 per hour. The call for improved wages comes after the Durham City Council granted themselves a $10,000 salary increase in 2021, a move that has been criticized by some workers. The ongoing community conversations provide a platform for residents to voice their opinions on key issues impacting the city’s budget and services.