More than 100 York City employees will get a 2.3 percent raise next year if the York City Council approves the 2013 budget proposed by Mayor Kim Bracey.

The pay hike for non-union employees, which is tied to cost-of-living inflation, was a sticking point during the 2012 budget debate. Whether it will return to the negotiating table this year remains to be seen.

In her 2012 budget proposal, Bracey had originally included a 2 percent raise for those 114 non-union employees. But, in the end, non-union employees -- a group that includes department directors -- got a 1 percent cost-of-living salary hike as part of a last-minute compromise reached by Bracey and the council.

City property owners, on the other hand, saw a 17 percent increase in their municipal property-tax bill this year.

Bracey is not proposing a tax hike in 2013, but city officials are still holding meetings to vet the mayor's proposal.

Salaries were a hot topic at last week's budget hearing, the first of two scheduled by the council before tentative approval of the mayor's proposal on Dec. 18. A balanced budget must pass before Jan. 1.

A second hearing is scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday at City Hall, 101 S. George St.

Salaries: Council members raised numerous questions Nov. 27 about what appeared to be significant salary increases for some individual employees. For example, Councilman Michael Helfrich questioned a nearly 20 percent raise for Edquina Washington, the city's di-


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rector of community relations, since she was hired in 2011.

Most likely, according to business administrator Michael O'Rourke, that pay bump was contractually scheduled when Washington was hired. Such increases are common for new hires but usually expire after one or two years, O'Rourke said.

Then, he said, the employee is typically subject to cost-of-living increases like other non-union employees.

In some cases, O'Rourke said, salaries are increased at the mayor's discretion in order to retain an employee. That's why assistant city solicitor Mark Elion got a $22,000 raise between 2011 and 2012, he said.

"We have to keep our pay and benefits competitive," O'Rourke said.

Non-union, union: Non-union employees, who make up the largest group of city employees, have gotten an average cost-of-living raise of 2.24 percent for the past seven years, O'Rourke said. Non-union salaries account for more than $5.1 million in the mayor's proposed budget.

The Fraternal Order of Police has fewer members -- 106 -- but its members make more money on average.

The city employs 371 full-time workers and 45 part-time workers, according to the mayor's budget proposal.

Many of the full-time employees are represented by one of five unions. So, their salary increases are typically set years ahead of time as a result of contract negotiations.

According to Bracey's 2013 proposal, all salaries would account for about 41 percent of general-fund expenses in 2013. Fringe benefits would consume another 14 percent of expenses in the general fund.

Nearly 55 percent of revenue in the general fund comes from taxes, including the property tax, which the mayor expects will leverage about $18 million next year. Bracey is not proposing a tax-rate increase.

-- Erin James may also be reached at ejame s@yorkdispatch.com.