York to mull mayor, council salaries

jbecknell@enquirerherald.comJuly 10, 2014 

— City Council members in York haven’t received a pay increase in about a dozen years, and one council member says it’s time to look at changing that.

Council member Denise Lowry told the council last week that the last ordinance setting pay for the council and mayor was approved in 2002.

York council members earn $5,000 a year, while the mayor pro tem earns $6,000 and the mayor earns $9,000, City Manager Charles Helms said.

The measure setting pay for the council states that at the beginning of each budget year after a general election, council members should receive a cost-of-living adjustment.

Lowry said the Rock Hill City Council recently approved a pay raise for itself, and said York should evaluate whether its council pay should be increased.

The Rock Hill City Council last month approved an increase, to bring the 2016 annual salary for that city’s six council members to $16,838 – a $490 raise. With a $770 raise, the mayor will make $26,437 starting in two years.

“I’m pretty sure since I’ve been on here four years, there has not been an increase,” Lowry said about the York council. She added: “Rock Hill has given themselves substantial increases.”

Lowry said she wasn’t suggesting increases the size of those approved in Rock Hill. However, she said she is open to considering a raise.

“This job is pretty serious,” said Lowry, who noted that the council will be approving a new budget beginning Oct. 1. “It can stress you out a little bit. I don’t think we need to neglect ourselves.”

Council members asked Helms to gather information about elected officials’ salaries for other cities in South Carolina with a similar population and similar size budget.

Mayor Eddie Lee said the council could consider the information collected by Helms’ staff and discuss the matter at its Aug. 5 meeting.

York has a $10 million budget and a population of about 7,700.

Following is salary information for the mayor and council members in several similar area cities, according to an online database maintained by the South Carolina Municipal Association:

• Lancaster , with a $10.5 million budget and a population of 8,500, pays council members $9,000 and the mayor $11,000 a year.

• Clover, with a $7.4 million budget and a population of about 5,000, pays council members $3,000 a year and the mayor $4,000.

• Chester, with a $4.7 million budget and a population of about 5,600, pays council members $5,570 and the mayor $8,689.

Several other York council members said they’d be open to considering a salary change. Mayor pro tem Charles Johnson said Lowry made “some very fine points.”

Johnson said the council needs to get all the information. “We’ll know more what to do when they get back with us,” he said, referring to the city staff.

Council member John Shiftlet said it’s reasonable to consider where York’s pay for council members stands in comparison to other comparable cities.

Shiflet said: “I would never be in favor of us receiving something that’s out of line, but I think it’s appropriate for York to be compared favorably to other places of similar size and budget.”

“You always want to attract individuals to run who are busy people, and who have knowledge and opportunities to contribute,” Shiflet said. “I would want it to be researched before any recommendation is made.”

Lee said he believes the current compensation for himself and the council members is adequate. He said he is not lobbying for a raise.

Lee also said he plans to initiate a discussion of all city salaries, especially those for top managers, as the city works on its 2014-15 budget. “I think it’s a good time to do that,” he said.

Jennifer Becknell •  803-329-4077

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