When Rock Hill’s Mayor and City Council are sworn into office early next year, the city’s chief officeholders will be awarded their first raise in more than 25 years.
Council Monday voted to approve the raises in a 5-1 vote. The raises, which will go into effect January 14, 2014, bump council members’ salaries from $8,000 per year to $16,348. The Mayor’s salary bumps from $12,542 to $25,667.
Councilwoman Kathy Pender was the lone dissenting vote Monday. After voting in favor of the measure at first reading September 23, Pender said she didn’t feel right about the decision.
“I think every one on council…has had a certain level of discomfort with this whole situation,” Pender said. “And for me, instead of that lessening, it just grew to the point where, for me, the right decision was to say, ‘no.’”
The idea was first brought forward in September after Mayor Doug Echols indicated he had assembled an independent study commission to review council members’ and the mayor’s pay and compare it with municipalities across the country.
But that commission, though completely separate from council and city government, raised the ire of at least one constituent Monday. Paul Anderko addressed council, questioning the legality of the study committee and its work behind the scenes.
“Having a committee meeting with a lack of openness to the public, I believe, was wrong,” Anderko told council. ”
Anderko suggested the city’s formation of the study committee was a violation of South Carolina’s Freedom of Information laws, citing a court case in Myrtle Beach between the city and a towing company. In that case, the City of Myrtle beach was sued by a wrecker service for illegally meeting in committee and delivering a recommendation to council on awarding a contract for wrecker services. The S.C. Supreme Court has since sided with the plaintiff, ruling that the committee’s business was illegally conducted behind closed doors.
Anderko alleges the same with the salary study in Rock Hill, to the objection of Mayor Doug Echols.
Echols said the presentation made by Dr. Roger Weikle, chair of the committee, were the culmination of minutes taken during the committee’s meetings.
Also Monday, council approved a $4.8 million contract with Leitner Construction to build Fountain Park on what is now the site of the city’s municipal parking lot. Construction should get underway; the project timeline calls for its completion within one year.