(ERIE, P.A. - WICU/WSEE/CW) –With a tap of the mallet, the decision was done.

 In a 5-2 vote, Erie County Council approved their latest salary increase, though this one, was a bit different.

Instead of an annual raise of 3 percent, four- soon-to-be open council spots will receive a one-time salary bump of 10 percent, which is locked in for the next four years.

Those open spots belong to Councilmen Kathy Fatica, Fiore Leone, Kyle Faust and Carol Loll, who represent the 1st. 3rd, 5th and 7th districts respectively.

Loll and Fatica will not seek reelection.

The percents will equal out to a $988 increase for each district, totaling $10,868. The role of Chairman, which is currently held by Leone, will see an additional pay increase from $500 to $750.

Council had a deadline to make adjustments before Feb 19.

"We by law have to set the salaries before candidates take out their petitions." Councilman Carl Anderson said

Anderson was part of a three-person committee made up of councilmembers whose terms do not expire at the end of the year.  It includes Anderson, Scott Rastetter and Andre Horton, this committee recommended the rate change.

Their salaries were adjusted in 2017 and 2018.

"I commend my committee members for the work that we did." Anderson said

Anderson says the move was made so salaries could be more transparent for future candidates and follows a model already in place for non-bargaining and unionized employees. They receive the three-percent pay bump, which had been proposed by Councilmen Foust for council salaries.

But on the other hand, an argument was made that council members’ work load has increased, and their salaries should reflect it.

Councilmen Horton says councilmembers make just over $4 an hour.

“It’s criminal in today's day and age.” said Horton
But the increase had its opposition, both from Chairman Leone and Councilmen Foust.

While both would benefit from the increase if re-elected, they say the council’s current home-rule charter recognizes the position as part-time.

Leone acknowledged the work load has increased significantly in the past few years, and says changes may be made to charter down the road.

But regardless of pay, Anderson and Leone say councilmembers will stay dedicated.

"We take our job seriously, we do our homework, we do our research." said Anderson

"The individuals here have done a great job and will continue to do a great job." Leone said

Also receiving a bump are County Coroner Lyell Cook and County Controller Mary Schaaf, both of whom will seek another term. 

Both salaries will increase by $3,626, bringing their salaries to $76,137 each. The total number of added salaries will cost the county $11,454. Leone says the pay increases will be covered by the county’s 2019 budget.

These pay increases will not go into effect until January 1. of 2020.