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York County Council members will continue to receive automatic pay raises when they vote to give county employees a salary increase, thanks to several councilmen changing their stance on the issue Monday night.
The salary increase totals about $1,700 for all seven council members.
Council Chairman Britt Blackwell has championed for months the idea of eliminating the automatic raises. He used it as a talking point on his re-election campaign last year, saying he would give his pay increase to charity and lobby the council to strike down the pay raise provision.
The council should ask for a raise and be “transparent” if it wants more money, not automatically receive a pay increase by virtue of giving county staff a raise, Blackwell said Monday.
At the council’s meeting earlier this month, Blackwell gave a check to a Rock Hill nonprofit organization called Renew Our Community for the amount equal to his recent pay raise, which is less than $300.
The majority of the council supported Blackwell’s idea during two previous meetings, voting in support of getting rid of the 1.5 percent automatic salary increase for council members.
Councilmen Chad Williams and Bump Roddey had previously voted against Blackwell’s idea, saying the annual increases are needed for York County to attract qualified council members and keep “politics” from dictating whether elected officials see a pay raise.
On Monday, three other councilmen aligned their votes with Williams and Roddey – enough to keep the 1996 pay raise law on the books.
Michael Johnson – the representative for Tega Cay and Fort Mill, serving his first term on the council – voted with Blackwell on Monday night against the raises.
During previous meetings, Councilman Bruce Henderson said the automatic pay raises weren’t appropriate given current economic troubles. The provision originated when the “good times were rolling,” he said.
On Monday, Henderson said he works “extraordinary hours” to be an effective councilman.
“We’re only talking, basically pocket change,” he said.
In previous meetings, Henderson supported eliminating the pay increases, saying council members should be “man enough or woman enough” to ask for a raise every time.
Changing his mind Monday night, he supported keeping the automatic raise in place, saying “I’m making it transparent right now.”
For the amount of time spent doing their council jobs, the small pay increase isn’t all that much, said Councilman Joe Cox. Cox also changed his stance on Monday after voting with Blackwell twice earlier this year.
“There’s a lot to this job,” Cox said. “And I don’t want to see us 10 years down the road, in a sense, the lowest paid in the state.”
The York County Council’s pay, Roddey has said, is already below average when compared to other South Carolina counties.
Councilman Curwood Chappell weighed in on the issue, saying the United States is already headed for financial doom and giving council members about a $200 raise would not make a difference. Chappell also voted previously to leave in the automatic pay raise provision, adding that he hadn’t voted for staff salary increases in the past.
The council gets the automatic 1.5 percent raise only if it approves giving county employees a 3 percent pay increase.
Texas firm to help find next county manager
In other action Monday, the council voted unanimously to tap a Texas search firm to help find York County’s next manager.
The county will pay $24,000 to Strategic Government Resources out of Keller, Texas, to recruit candidates interested in replacing former County Manager Jim Baker.
Assistant County Manager Anna Moore has been serving as interim county manager since January when Baker left for a government job in Chesapeake, Va.
Representatives from the firm will meet with the council within the next month.
It’s expected that the search process will take up to four months.