Michael O'Rourke and Jim Gross will make more money this year, but the two York City department directors did not get a raise.

Several members of the York City Council sought to make that distinction clear Tuesday in discussion about the retroactive cost-of-living increases that will soon be reflected in the directors' paychecks.

The council voted 4-1 Tuesday to bestow the increases, a reversal of an earlier decision to reject a similar proposal from Mayor Kim Bracey.

"It is not a raise. It is a cost-of-living adjustment so they are not behind the eight ball," Councilman Henry Nixon said.

O'Rourke's salary will increase from $104,090 to $110,250, and Gross' salary will increase from $82,111 to $87,000.

The higher salaries reflect what the two directors would have been making had they gotten a cost-of-living increase in 2002, 2005 and 2006 — years when the city withheld such increases from department directors.

O'Rourke, the city's business administrator, and Gross, the public works director, are the only two directors from those earlier years who remain in their positions today.

The approved salary hikes are more modest than Bracey's original proposal, which the council rejected Dec. 17 in a 3-2 vote before approving the city's 2014 budget.

At that meeting, O'Rourke scolded council members for their "hypocritical" decision to increase the salary of one employee while denying a raise for himself and Gross.

The mayor's proposal would have restored the cost-of-living increases to the directors' salaries and given them a pay raise on top of it.

Councilman Michael Helfrich, who developed the latest proposal, said he aimed to achieve a compromise.

"I try to watch our pennies, but I also know when certain things are deserved," he said.

Council President Carol Hill-Evans, who cast the dissenting votes, said she believes directors' raises should be tied to performance evaluations.

And, Hill-Evans said, she wasn't swayed by the argument that the increases are not raises.

"The bottom line is it is more money," she said.

Neither Gross nor O'Rourke attended Tuesday's meeting.

— Reach Erin James at ejames@yorkdispatch.com.