YORK – York City Council approved five-figure salary raises for three city leaders at Tuesday evening’s meeting, but not everyone was on board.
The council approved the salary hikes with a 3-2 vote inside a packed City Hall.
“That’s significant. That’s a bigger raise than I’ve ever gotten,” York City Council President Michael Helfrich said during the meeting.
Helfrich is also the mayor-elect and will take the reins from outgoing Mayor Kim Bracey in less than a month. The raises are a part of Bracey’s 2018 budget. Helfrich proposed a motion to table the vote for two weeks so the council could study it more in depth, in addition to an amendment lowering the raises, but the council shot all of those down with a three-to-two vote.
“I was voted in to be the watchdog for our taxes and for the funds of the city, so if raises are going to be given, I would like to have the oversight to do that,” Helfrich said.
The top raises are around 20 percent for three city executives and range from $11,000 to almost $16,000. They include the business administrator, the acting director of economic and community development, and the director of community affairs.
“You could care less what we have to say,” Stacey Boyer said. “There are three people that are going ‘this is what we’re saying, and I don’t care what you say, what you say, what the people out here say, what all of the citizens want’ or the questions we have on our money.”
“I’ve got a pretty loud mouth, and I’ve gotten pretty involved in the community lately. I will make it my mission to not let you get re-elected,” James Roundtree said.
Council members voting against the hike were Helfrich and Renee Nelson. The members giving it the green light were Sandie Walker, Judy Ritter-Dickson and Vice President Henry Nixon. Nixon believes it will help keep good people in the positions.
“I’m hopeful since we’re going to be having a new mayor that we have retention and if we don’t have retention in those particular instances, that it’ll be easier to attract the right kinds of people,” Nixon said.
Mayor Kim Bracey sent ABC27 News the following statement:
“Our administration has worked hard and tirelessly to right the city’s financial conditions and outlook. We are sitting strong in large part because of their willingness to hold the line on expenses, including our own requests for raises. Our credit rating has improved, our deficits have been reduced, our MMO payments are current, all things our Administration turned around, and we are still able to propose a budget with a 4 percent property tax decrease for 2018. We have a great team of leaders in city government deserving of these pay increases.”
Helfrich says the situation puts him in a pinch.
“This is the hardest thing because I campaigned on being fiscally responsible, so if I vote for these large raises, then the voters see me as not following through on what I said I would do,” Helfrich said. “If I vote against the raises, then all my new directors may feel a certain way about me.”
Helfrich says taxpayers won’t have to worry about raises like this while he’s in office because they’d never end up in his budget.
“I had to make a very tough choice tonight, and that was either side with the taxpayers that put me in or side with directors that I know I’m going to have to work with. I just had to make the tough choice and side with the taxpayers,” Helfrich said.
Bracey has served two terms. She beat Helfrich in the Democratic primary, but Helfrich had enough Republican write-in votes to appear on the ticket in the general election. Helfrich won and will be sworn in January 2018.