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ONLY ON 3: City manager addresses low morale at WPD

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — A Wilmington Police survey shows many employees are not happy with their job.

So today we took those concerns to the city’s top administrator.

Nearly 85 percent of those who took the survey said morale was low or very low. The reasons: pay and benefits, fairness and communication.

“I don’t call them problems, I call them opportunities of areas we need to focus on,” City Manager Sterling Cheatham said.

Among the biggest complaints from WPD staff were issues with the command staff. Cheatham says Chief Ralph Evangelous is doing a great job despite the negative survey results, but he did have one suggestion for the leader of the police department

“I think one of the things that I wish he would be is a little bit more patient with me and with others,” Cheatham says.

An area Cheatham says is number one as work starts on next year’s budget is pay.

“As a citizen of the community and as an employee I understand how sensitive and important pay is,” he said.

But Cheatham says better pay means cuts have to be made somewhere.

“We’re looking at every program and every service we offer to evaluate their relative importance going into the budget this year,” Cheatham said. “We’re going to have to make some tough choices. It’s a matter of decision making. You have to make tough choices.”

We asked Cheatham if he would be willing to make some sacrifices of his own to improve pay, like giving up some of his own salary.

“If we could fix the problem by the waving of a wand that magical, I certainly would be interested in doing it,” he said. “But the problem is a lot more involved than that.”

Cheatham says he also hopes to increase pay to keep up with other cities. It’s something he says he will recommend when he presents next year’s budget.

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