Mayor: $450K doesn't exist in York's budget

Written by Mark Walters/York Daily Record | Dec 18, 2015 11:59 AM

Mayor Kim Bracey said the $450,000 needed to balance the city's budget does not exist. Her proposed 2016 spending plan contains a 1 percent tax cut.(Photo: York Daily Record, File)

Council members will reconvene at 10:00 a.m. Dec. 28 to further deliberate on the city's budget that is unbalanced by nearly half a million dollars.

(York) -- York's proposed 2016 budget is not a good place to look for $450,000, Mayor Kim Bracey said Thursday morning.

It doesn't exist there, Bracey said.

That's exactly what city council tasked itself to do when members removed revenue from the city's 2016 spending plan Tuesday. Now council members must pick up the pieces of the dismantled budget that was changed on the night it was slated for final approval.

Bracey and city business administrator Michael Doweary say they aren't scrambling to adjust the budget, but they are evaluating the impact of council's suggested cuts.

Commenting on where the city can cut within its budget would be premature, Doweary said.

"Council has given themselves a two-week window to get their thoughts together," he said. "I don't want to be preemptive."

A portion of the cuts, about $150,000, comes from council members refusing to accept the city's realty transfer tax, a funding mandate that would take money from the school district and give it to the city. Another $300,000 is now missing from the spending plan because members decided to nix a six percent sewer rate hike.

Councilman Michael Helfrich's qualm with the sewer rate hike is that he believes owners of lesser-valued properties with more water users would be paying more each year, even with the mayor's proposed 1 percent tax cut. That tax break, Helfrich maintains, would only benefit owners of properties assessed at $63,000 or greater with one or two water users.

Other council members agree. The only member who wanted to keep the $450,000 in the budget was Henry Nixon, council vice president, who said the council's vote was bordering on irresponsible.

"We need to look well into the future," Nixon said, adding that without the $150,000 from the realty transfer tax, the city will start its 2017 budget process down $150,000 and "behind the eight ball."

Nixon said Thursday he has heard nothing from council members since Tuesday.

Corresponding with council

In an email to council members Monday, Bracey detailed several budget items, indicating her desire to keep them in the spending plan. The list of items included the proposed director position within the city's Department of Economic and Community Development.

That new director would manage four bureaus with approximately 40 employees and between 10 to 20 interns, Bracey told council members in her email to council members. That workload is being handled entirely by Shilvosky Buffaloe, the interim director of the Department of Economic and Community Development.

Helfrich has suggested not hiring a new director for the department, saying the city has gotten along without one for the last year.

Bracey disagrees. Not hiring an additional director in the department would create a managerial void for the city's housing and health bureaus as well as its economic and community development and permits, planning and zoning departments, she said.

In her email, Bracey also stated her desire to give the firefighters a cost of living adjustment, provide space in city hall for an entity to offer services to York's Latino population and keep a position within the city's Human Relations Commission.

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

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