York City's business administrator admonished members of the York City Council for their "hypocritical" decision Tuesday to increase the salary of one employee while simultaneously denying Mayor Kim Bracey's recommendation to increase the salaries of two department directors -- including himself.
"We can't afford to live in York anymore," Michael O'Rourke, the city's chief financial officer, said of his family.
Since taking the business-administrator job in 2000, "My real-estate taxes have doubled," O'Rourke said.
Moments later, the council voted to approve the 2014 budget without discussion of O'Rourke's comments. O'Rourke immediately left council chambers, and Bracey -- who had joined the council on the dais for the meeting -- also left abruptly, refusing twice to answer a reporter's questions.
"I have no comment," she said.
Earlier in the meeting, in two 3-2 votes, the council rejected Bracey's proposal to hike the directors' salaries. Councilman Michael Helfrich twice made motions to reduce the amount of the increases, but those motions also failed 3-2. Council President Carol Hill-Evans, Councilman Henry Nixon and Councilwoman Renee Nelson voted against the increases.
Nixon said he found it "unwise" to increase salaries while the city's finances remain "fragile."
That's not a reflection on the directors' dedication to the city, he said.
According to law, directors cannot receive pay raises without the council's approval.
During the meeting, Bracey said Public Works Director Jim Gross and O'Rourke deserve a raise. Rejecting the pay increases sends "a poor message," she told the council.
"We have been able to hold the line because of our directors," Bracey said, referencing the city's finances.
According to the 2013 budget, O'Rourke's base salary this year was $101,750. The mayor's proposal would have increased his salary to $114,500.
Gross made $80,265 this year, according to the city's online 2013 budget. Bracey recommended increasing his salary to $90,500 next year.
The city's 2014 budget includes a 2 percent cost-of-living raise for all non-union employees, which includes O'Rourke and Gross, who did not attend Tuesday's meeting.
In her pitch for the raises, Bracey said both men had never received a pay increase. Gross has served as the public works director since 1999.
The two directors have received periodic cost-of-living increases, however.
In 2006, for example, O'Rourke's salary was $86,908, according to online budget documents.
In a last-minute plea for fairness, O'Rourke urged the council to reconsider a nearly $5,000 increase in 2014 for city clerk Dianna Thompson-Mitchell, who made $50,128 this year.
"I think, if you want to have integrity, then you ought to remove the city clerk's pay increase," O'Rourke said.
Nixon seemed to agree with that line of thinking, saying he was "disappointed" the city clerk's pay raise remained in the budget.
"Either we give raises to everyone, or we don't give raises to anyone," Nixon said. "I think this is almost a travesty and not well thought out, and I am disappointed."
Nixon did not, however, offer an amendment to the budget, and Thompson-Mitchell's raise was approved as proposed.
-- Reach Erin James at firstname.lastname@example.org.