Whether the compensation of our cities’ executives and department heads is exorbitant or competitive is a matter of perspective, but there’s no question that the salaries of these top earners have always commanded our fascination. What’s different from past years is that elected officials have started talking about pay at the bottom rungs of local government as a matter of social justice instead of just cost containment.

[Starting salaries]

zamboni
Illustration by Jorge Maturino

Firefighter

1. Greensboro — $33,483

2. High Point — $33,184

3. Winston-Salem — $32,091

Winston-Salem has partially closed the gap in starting pay for firefighters — up from $31,345 — with Greensboro and High Point, although it still ranks last.

Police officer

1. High Point (police officer I) — $36,585

2. Greensboro (police officer I) — $35,556

3. Winston-Salem (police officer trainee) — $33,856

The city of Winston-Salem’s lowest category for sworn officers is for police officer trainees with a high school diploma. But once the six-month training phase is completed, police officers with a high school diploma earn $35,549 — practically the same amount as their counterparts in Greensboro. And pay for Winston-Salem police officers increases with their level of education, with an officer holding a bachelor’s degree who has completed training earning a minimum of $39,193.

Crime scene (police)

1. High Point (crime scene technician) — 34,844

2. Winston-Salem (crime scene technician) — $34,030

3. Greensboro (crime scene investigator) — $33,253

Custodian

1. Winston-Salem — $22,880

2. Greensboro — $21,233

3. High Point — $20,372

Minimum pay for a custodian in Greensboro is the equivalent of $10.21 per hour — less than the new $12 per hour minimum wage. Communications Manager Jake Keys said that in practice the city pays more than the minimum, and the human resources department runs reports each pay period to ensure that no benefited employee is paid less than $12 per hour.

Laborer

1. Winston-Salem — $22,880

2. High Point — $22,460

Casual laborers and fair laborers in Winston-Salem earn an hourly wage of $10.10, equivalent to $21,008 per year, despite the new $11 minimum wage mandated in the current budget.

Sanitation operator (garbage truck driver)

1. High Point (sanitation equipment operator) — $28,664

2.
Winston-Salem (sanitation equipment operator) — $27,248

3. Greensboro (solid waste operator) — $27,144

All three cities have increased pay, and Winston-Salem garbage truck drivers have overtaken their counterparts in Greensboro since last year.

Sanitation laborer

1. High Point (sanitation worker) — $24,762

2.
Winston-Salem (sanitation laborer) — $22,880 (equivalent to $11 per hour)

Winston-Salem sanitation laborers have modestly closed the gap with their counterparts in High Point thanks to the new $11 per hour minimum wage approved by city council.

Landfill

1. High Point (landfill equipment operator) — $31,604

2. Winston-Salem (landfill mechanic) — $30,613

3. Greensboro (landfill tech) — $27,144

Meter reader

1. Winston-Salem — $27,248

2. Greensboro — $25,368

3. High Point — $23,583

Parking attendant

1. Greensboro — $23,858

2. Winston-Salem — $22,880

3. High Point — $22,460

Rec Center director/supervisor

1. High Point (recreation center director) — $40,335

2.
Winston-Salem (recreation center supervisor) — $36,492

3. Greensboro (recreation center supervisor) — $35,580

Grillroom attendant

1. High Point — $20,372

Planner

1. Greensboro — $41,117

2. Winston-Salem — $40,620

3. High Point — $40,335

Code enforcement officer

1. High Point — $36,585

2.
Winston-Salem (zoning code enforcement supervisor) — $36,099

3. Greensboro — $35,580

Zamboni driver

1. Winston-Salem — $21,008 (equivalent)

Groundskeeper

1. High Point — $23,583

Library

1. Greensboro (library associate) — $27,144

2. High Point (library assistant) — $24,762

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