Oxford Borough Mayor Geoff Henry is taking his salary for 2014 and donating it back to the borough as a way to limit expenditures this year.
While Henry’s salary as mayor may be small—he receives approximately $1,500 annually--the statement behind Henry’s action is pretty big.
Henry said that he decided to turn back his salary because he continues to be concerned about the borough’s high taxes. In the final days of 2013, Henry vetoed the tax ordinance that increased taxes by .50 mills and set the 2014 tax rate at 12 mills because of those concerns. Borough council subsequently overrode that veto and the tax increase was approved. When Henry vetoed the tax ordinance, he knew that the override was likely, but he did what he felt was right anyway.
There are plenty of elected officials who are still interested in doing what’s right, especially at the local level. But not many mayors in Pennsylvania are willing to stand up in opposition to an action by borough council. The mayors of small Pennsylvania boroughs have very little real authority--beyond overseeing the police department, mayoral duties are limited. It would have been easier for Mayor Henry to sit back, accept the council’s decision on the tax ordinance, and sign off on the resolution. But he didn’t take the easy way out, and for that he should be applauded.
Last year, Henry organized a public forum on gun violence and encouraged borough council to support a resolution that advocated for gun control legislation. It was not the most popular course of action that he could have taken, especially considering that Henry was facing reelection. He knew that organizing the public forum had a chance to anger some people who don’t want gun rights to be restricted—and it did. But for Henry, concerns about public safety outweighed any concerns he may have had about his own election. Eventually, borough council approved a negotiated resolution regarding gun control that was agreeable to everyone.
Henry knew that a big-picture solution to the problem of gun violence in the U.S. wasn’t going to come from a discussion that started in Oxford. But he thought that the discussion at the local level would be beneficial and would raise awareness locally about public safety.
It’s refreshing to see a public servant working to keep the public involved and engaged. It’s also good to see someone standing up for taxpayers in the Oxford area.