Department directors quiet with York city budget in limbo

Written by Mark Walters/York Daily Record | Dec 17, 2015 9:27 AM

From left to right, York City Councilman David Satterlee, council vice president Henry Nixon, council president Carol Hill-Evans and council members Michael Helfrich and Renee Nelson discuss the city's proposed 2016 budget with city business administrator Michael Doweary at Tuesday night's council meeting. In between Hill-Evans and Helfrich is Dianna Thompson-Mitchell, council clerk.(Photo: Mark Walters, York Daily Record)

York officials said they aren't sure how to balance the 2016 budget after council removed $450,000.

(York) -- York's department directors didn't have much to say the day after council removed $450,000 in revenue from the city's proposed 2016 budget, but some council members were willing to talk about next year's financial plan.

York City Council declined to accept $150,000 in realty transfer tax money from the York City School District and voted down a proposed 6-percent sewer rate hike slated to garner $300,000.

Council members said they are still unsure of where they will find nearly half a million dollars to balance the city's 2016 budget. The newly established deficit is about 1 percent of the city's proposed $43.4 million general fund.

Councilman Michael Helfrich said he opposed the sewer rate hike when he first heard of it and has opposed the city accepting its half of the realty transfer tax since it was proposed to council in 2012.

However, the city is the only municipality in York County that does not get any of its realty transfer tax revenue, said Randi Reisinger, recorder of deeds for York County. It's been that way since a resolution on the matter was signed in 1947 and renewed in 1987, Reisinger said.

The city would get $150,000 next year and $300,000 in subsequent years from the realty transfer tax, which is generated from property sales in the city. Property buyers and sellers pay a tax equal to 1 percent of the property value, which goes entirely to the school district.

There is only one other municipality among Adams, Cumberland, Dauphin, Lancaster and Lebanon counties -- Cold Spring Township in Lebanon County -- that does not accept any of its realty transfer tax, according to Gary Miller, spokesman for the state's Department of Revenue. There are 74 municipalities in Pennsylvania that don't receive their realty transfer tax.

With the 6-percent sewer rate hike, city water customers would pay $9.25 per 1,000 gallons of water service, according to the budget summary. Residents are now paying $8.75.

Like other council members, Helfrich said he is against eliminating the proposed 1 percent property tax reduction to help balance the city's budget. Making next year's spending plan a tax-neutral budget would garner the city around $200,000 in revenue.

"I said I want a real tax cut and I mean it," Helfrich said.

The tax decrease was the "no-brainer" part of the budget and is the way council wants to go, council president Carol Hill-Evans said.

"The dilemma is figuring out how we do that without raising fees to accomplish that goal," she said.

Council members David Satterlee and Renee Nelson both said they hope to retain the tax cut in their budget plan. Council will reconvene its budget deliberations at 10 a.m. Dec. 28.

York's realty transfer tax by the numbers

$527,662 collected in 2013

$471,946 collected in 2014

$733,485 collected so far in 2015

York's sewer rate by the numbers

$8.25 per 1,000 gallons of water used in 2013

$8.25 per 1,000 gallons of water used in 2014

$8.75 per 1,000 gallons of water used in 2015


This article comes to us through a partnership between York Daily Record and WITF.



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