York City Mayor Kim Bracey said it was "a slap in the face" Wednesday that members of the York City Council wouldn't consider a merit raise for the city's police chief.

Bracey made the comment after proposing a $2,300 salary increase for Chief Wes Kahley, who's headed the department for four years.

During that time, York has made "significant progress" toward reducing crime, the mayor said.

Kahley has also reined in the department's budget in tough financial times, Bracey said, adding the chief regularly goes beyond the call of duty.

The four council members who attended Wednesday's meeting were unmoved by the mayor's proposal, however.

Council President Carol Hill-Evans asked if now "is really the appropriate time" to increase an employee's salary — considering the recent hiring of an economic development director at an annual salary of $95,500 and the resignation last week of business administrator Michael O'Rourke.

"I would ask, 'Why not?'" Bracey replied.

Calling the city "a business that's losing money," Councilman Michael Helfrich said he's uncomfortable increasing spending.

Mayor's stance: Kahley currently receives about $94,000 annually, a figure that's low compared to chiefs of departments in other third-class cities, Bracey said.

The $2,300 is available in the city's 2014 contingency fund, she said.

The mayor presented the proposal at a committee meeting, where council members decide what to consider at their upcoming voting meetings.

But when Hill-Evans asked if anyone desired to move the proposal forward to the May agenda, the other three council members shook their heads.

Bracey then left the meeting.

"How do you think I feel?" she said outside council chambers. "It is a slap in the face."

She called it "almost embarrassing" that council won't consider a 2.5-percent raise for the chief.

"They can call him any hour of the night, and he'll answer the phone. But they can't give a $2,300 raise," she said. "It's sad."

It's not the first time the mayor and council members have butted heads over salary increases for city directors.

Late last year, Bracey proposed significant raises for O'Rourke and public works director Jim Gross.

The council rejected the mayor's proposal initially but later approved more modest raises for the two directors.

On Wednesday, Bracey said she's not planning to bring any more salary increases to the council in the near future.

— Reach Erin James at ejames@yorkdispatch.com.