Study points to uncompetitive pay for some key Wilmington city positions

The City of Wilmington today released aSalary Benchmarking Studyfor managers and executives and found evidence that many key positions do not come with competitive pay.

Click here for the report

While the study reviewed 100 of the city’s management positions, it found comparable salary information for 76 slots

Mayor Mike Purzycki said the city leadership positions that were evaluated are critical to the effective and efficient delivery of programs and services to the public and require talented professionals to fulfill these roles.

To no one’s surprise, social media posts took issue with the report, claiming that pay inequities exist with non-managers and should be addressed first.

The city Department of Human Resources engaged PFM Group Consulting, LLC to perform the study which was completed last week.

“We have known anecdotally that there are disparities regarding the salaries that Wilmington’s governmentpaysto executive and management employees versus what other governments pay, but now we’ve quantified the differences so we have a good basis for policy discussions,” said Purzycki. “City government must operate more efficiently and be in a position to advance itself through technology and innovation. We have significant recruitment challenges while trying to fill some of these positions because we don’t offer high enough salaries. Moving forward, this study will help us improve our approach to ensuring pay competitiveness.”

PFM benchmarked actual incumbent base pay and pay ranges where applicable for over 75 executive, managerial, and selected elected positions in relation to five local public employers including the State of Delaware, New Castle County, the City of Newark, the City of Dover and Philadelphia. I

In addition, PFM evaluated overall regional pay levels across the broader labor market as reported in the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data for those occupations such as law, accounting, and engineering where there was some relationship to the city’s positions.

It found that in a number of cases, current salaries for Wilmington employees are at the lower end of the established pay range – and often somewhat below the regional norms.

The PFM study said further review of the following positions may be beneficial because of benchmarks indicating a comparatively low salary position for the City:

o Mayor’s Chief of Staff
o Deputy Chiefs of Staff
o Deputy City Clerk
o Budget Director
o Accounting Manager
o Human Resources Director
o Risk Manager
o Director of Integrated Technology
o Webmaster
o City Solicitor
o Deputy City Solicitor
o Public Works Commissioner
o Deputy Commissioner, Public Works
o Commissioner of Licenses and Inspections
o Deputy Commissioner for Licenses and Inspections
o Director of Transportation
o Administrative Services Director, Public Works
o Water Division Director, Public Works
o Assistant Water Division Director, Public Works
o Water Quality Manager, Public Works
o Director of Planning and Development
o Planning Manager
o Parks Maintenance Supervisor

In evaluating the findings from the benchmarking study, PFM noted several important limitations. The company said the focus of the study is on base salary levels, an important determinant of overall compensation competitiveness. In some cases, however, differences in fringe benefits, pay premiums, and other forms of compensation (e.g., car allowances and/or take-home municipal vehicles that may be available in some communities) can also be important factors.

Differences in benefits can also be particularly important for contextualizing comparisons to pay in the overall labor market, particularly given that most private-sector employers offer 401(k) defined contribution retirement benefits, rather than the traditionally defined benefit pensions more prevalent in the public sector. This initial benchmarking review does not encompass all of these elements of total compensation.

The study noted the limitations of comparisons, given varying duties of top officials in various governmental units and varied populations of other areas.

The City of Wilmington is small but has a large police department and the state’s only full-time fire department. It also has a large percentage of the state’s population that lives below the poverty line.

Still, the report indicated that comparisons are useful in efforts to attract management needed to continue efforts at improving the quality of services.

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