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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Wilmington City Council is taking a look at employee pay. Leaders say salaries in the Port City are behind the market average.

Research shows in 2012 Wilmington was nine percent behind the state average for worker pay.

Leaders say they have not been able to make pay increases because of tough economic times, but they recognize the employees’ hard work.

“We definitely want them to be well paid,” Mayor Bill Saffo said. “They deserve to be well paid.”

Although city employees saw a two-percent increase in pay and as much as a 1.5-percent merit pay raise this fiscal year, workers are still paid less than market.

Wilmington firefighters are paid 21 percent less than the state average and police are eight percent behind.

“All they want they want is to be treated fairly. They want fair compensation compared to their peers, and I don’t think that is unreasonable,” Police Chief Ralph Evangelous said.

To make that happen, City Council introduced a policy to pay city employees a living wage that is 90 percent of the market pay for the southeast region of the state this fiscal year. They say over the next three- to five-year period, pay will increase between three and five percent annually.

“It is my intention as the mayor, for the next two years, is to make those pay adjustments so we can be competitive,” Saffo said.

The city is losing workers to places like Greensboro, Greenville, Asheville, Durham, Winston-Salem and even in our own backyard to New Hanover County and CFPUA.

“If CFPUA is paying a higher wage for the same job they are doing here in the city, I mean, God bless,” Saffo said. “That is what America is about: finding the best opportunity for you and your family.”

Just this week City Council approved a plan that would give the city’s elected leaders a pay raise whenever city workers get an across-the-board increase.

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10 Comments on "Wilmington leaders want to increase pay for city workers"

2015 years 10 months ago

What we really meant to say is, we would have liked to pay all of you more money, but we just spent 4 million on a park and don’t have it, mmmkay?

2015 years 10 months ago

Let’s not forget the 50k City Council authorized spending on a study about what to do with the Water Street parking deck…and God knows how much on study after study related to Saffo Stadium, and now over 100k on a lighting plan for the Kenan fountain.

And now…City Council wants their pay raised when City employees get a raise. All Laura Padgett needs to do is sell one additional annuity, and there’s her raise.

Guest Reply Redux
2015 years 10 months ago

And Nov. 5th help them out…didn’t it?
Nothing personal at you…but all the complaints about Saffo & Co. is way too late now. These Forums sound just like they did 2 years ago…and there were 2 years to boot these people out…but leaving them in office was like refusing a medical cure for cancer!!

2015 years 10 months ago

“If CFPUA is paying a higher wage for the same job they are doing here in the city, I mean, God bless,” Saffo said. “That is what America is about: finding the best opportunity for you and your family.”

In other words… Yeah, we’ll SAY you matter to us and you deserve more money, but what we really mean is Shut up and go somewhere else because you mean NOTHING to us.

2015 years 10 months ago

Gee! They vote for council members to get raises when the city employees get raises. Then they vote for city employees to get raises. Go figure!!

2015 years 10 months ago

What I would have liked to have seen is for Council NOT to approve their own plan of giving themselves raises whenever city workers get raises. Lord knows, they don’t need it; they have lucrative businesses of their own. Why not “sacrifice” their own raises to make sure city employees are paid as well as other cities pay their employees? Some city employees are working full time and still making low enough salaries to qualify for food stamps. That’s crazy! Step up to the plate, city council, and put your money where your mouth is!

2015 years 10 months ago

should understand there is only so much revenue and only so many dollars in the savings account.

So first, take care of Schoninger and the land on which he would have had the city build a ballpark with bond funds. CHECK — paying $4,000,000 for a park. Plus unannounced costs to make the park something more than a piece of dirt overgrown with weeds.

Second, be certain the City takes care of Schoninger and his proposed cold storage facility. Costs? To be determined.

Third — the Civic Center is over 5 years old. Must be time to lay a few million out for upgrades so it remains an underutilized, state of the art facility.

Fourth — raises for city employees which includes the Council Members and Mayor. BUT, read closely; the policy adopted calls for employee salaries to be within 90% of the statewide average. The study showed they were 9.1% below average. Thus, there may be no need for salary adjustments. Firefighters would be an exception. Does the city take this policy seriously? Stay tuned to see if firefighter pay adjustments are a topic at the next meeting or workshop.

Voters of Wilmington; the last election turnout showed the incumbents they really have nothing to fear; and they wasted no time in showing they understand. They floated the plan to bail out Schoninger 3 days after the election.

If the county turnout is this dismal, look for Brian Berger to celebrate his re-election in 2 years.

2015 years 10 months ago

“Just this week City Council approved a plan that would give the city’s elected leaders a pay raise whenever city workers get an across-the-board increase.”

Isn’t it interesting that now that the council gets a raise every time the workers get a raise, the council is all fired up to get those poor underpaid workers the money they deserve.
I am sure the workers actually deserve their raises but I definitely see a conflict of interest here.
Bottom line: no raise for the council, no raise for the workers.

Don’t you just love public spirited politicians????

2015 years 10 months ago

Instead of only paying the officers 90% of what they are worth in the area, combined with high insurance premiums and other not-so-good-benefits, why don’t you pay them 10% ABOVE what the other agencies pay, so we can get the best officers out there AND KEEP THE ONES WE HAVE? How many tens of thousands of dollars does it take to hire, train, and regain the years of training and experience some of these veteran officers leaving have? It takes a good 3 or 4 years from date of hire before an officer is good and solid.

If other places are still paying 10% more than WPD, why would an officer pick WPD instead, if they are given a choice? Why would officers stay if, AT BEST, they will make 10% less. Not counting insurance premiums, which have gone up 300% in the last few years and continue to increase…NHCSO pays a fraction in family coverage for medical insurance compared to WPD, that’s a few hundred a month difference. And when a patrol officer for WPD gets a holiday day they don’t even get paid a full day’s worth of hours (get paid 8.4 hours for a 12 hour day), where NHCSO does.

Also, at the NHCSO positions like detectives and other specialized positions are considered a promotion in kind, giving the employees raises of several thousand dollars a year for being selected for these positions where they have much more responsibility. At WPD detectives, etc., are not given raises and are paid as much (or little) as the laziest person on patrol. Not much motivation for the best people available to work harder than anyone else.

Guest Reply Redux
2015 years 10 months ago

By only giving city employees a raise when Council gets a raise (it works both ways)…Council will be generous and refuse an upcoming raise…and in turn, nobody gets a raise!
“God bless you Saffo”…twas the results on November 5th…as well as the words of his Council buddies.
I heard somewhere that even though Saffo had no one run against him, he still feared a “Recount”… (TWICE) ;~€


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