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Study concludes Wilmington isn’t paying employees enough

Ken MammarellaGovernment, Headlines

A new study recommends raises for Wilmington's employees. (Karolina Grabowski photo from Pexels)

A new study recommends raises for Wilmington’s employees. (Karolina Grabowski photo from Pexels)

Wilmington has released a citywide classification and salary compensation study that recommends increasing pay across the board.

The $85,000 project resulted in four reports, for executives and managers, nonunion staff, AFSCME Local 320 and AFSCME Local 1102.

Mayor Mike Purzycki is asking City Council to amend the fiscal 2024 general operating budget to include new salary ranges from the study for managerial and nonunion positions. The recommended changes for Locals 320 and 1102 are already part of the contracts for those unions, the city said.

“In the aggregate, [managerial] employees are paid 16% below market,” wrote Peter R. Johnson and Co.  “We recommend bringing all employees to the range minimum.”

The aggregate for nonunion workers is 11% below market, and they also are recommended to get raises.

The aggregate for Local 320 is 14% below market.

The aggregate for Local 1102 is 12% below market.

The 500-word release announcing the study does not explicitly say that workers will get raises, and it also doesn’t mention the specific below-market percentages. Instead, it refers to “adjustments,” “an insufficient city government salary structure” and “improving the compensation structure of city government.”

It does quote Purzycki this way: “None of our current employees will make less in salary as a result of this study.”

The salaries for various positions are given as ranges, and all four reports say no Wilmington employee is over the range maximum for their job classification. But many are under the range minimum: 15 managers, seven nonunion workers, 54 in Local 320 and 33 in Local 1102.

The study also recommends reclassifying multiple positions.

Wilmington has about 1,100 employees (and up to 600 limited service employees).

The consultants, who are based in West Chester, Pennsylvania, compared salary figures from Wilmington to governments and all industries of roughly the same size, within 100 miles, in the Philadelphia region and in the mid-Atlantic.

Wilmington’s woes

Purzycki said the city has been losing employees and have difficulty filling jobs because of lower pay and the city’s five-year residency requirement. “It’s a constant battle to operate at 100% efficiency if you can’t build the proper workforce,” he said. “There are currently 612 non-uniformed positions in city government, and 85 are vacant, which is a 14% vacancy rate.”

Wilmington in 2019 released a similar study comparing managerial pay in Wilmington, Newark, Dover, New Castle County and Philadelphia. Pay was on the low side then, too.

DelawareOnline has frequently written about government salaries, and a listing from 2021 shows 58 Wilmington employees earning more than Purzycki’s $123,190 salary then as mayor.

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