A proposed ordinance to cut the pay of Chester City's mayor and council is on life-support after failing to garner enough votes at its first reading to move forward.

The vote by council members Wednesday night split 2-2 down party lines. Mayor Wendell Butler, a Republican, was absent and thus not able to cast the tie-breaker.

Democrats, who believe they will hold a council majority after the fall election, saw the move to cut salaries as political. Republicans said it was to address escalating labor and benefits costs in tough economic times.

Republican councilman Shepard Garner, who introduced the bill, said it is possible he would reintroduce the ordinance later in June.

Councilman John Linder said he was opposed to passing an ordinance that would imply further cuts for labor unions were coming. He wanted to look at all options.

Contact staff writer Mari A. Schaefer at 610-892-9149, mschaefer@phillynews.com, or @MariSchaefer on Twitter.