Smart Talk

Smart Talk is a daily, live, interactive program featuring conversations with newsmakers and experts in a variety of fields and exploring a wide range of issues and ideas, including the economy, politics, health care, education, culture, and the environment.  Smart Talk airs live every week day at 9 a.m. on WITF’s 89.5 and 93.3.

Listen to Smart Talk live online from 9-10 a.m. weekdays and at 7 p.m. (Repeat of 9 a.m. program)

Host: Scott LaMar

Radio Smart Talk: York Mayor Kim Bracey

Written by Scott LaMar, Smart Talk Host/Executive Producer | Feb 7, 2013 8:31 AM

Radio Smart Talk for Thursday, February 7:

Kim Bracey.jpg

The city of York is known as the White Rose City.  York has a place in American history as the nation's first capital and where the name "United States of America" was first used.  In 1950, York had almost 60,000 residents.  Today, the population is closer to 44,000.  Like many other American cities, York lost people to the suburbs as manufacturing jobs moved or were eliminated.  

Also like other cities, York has its share of challenges and a lot of them are related to money and the city's limited options to generate revenue.

While York struggles with finances, so far it has avoided being designated as distressed like 21 other Pennsylvania cities.

York Mayor Kim Bracey often says "Pennsylvania's local tax, pension, and arbitration systems as well as urban boundaries are outdated, broken, and unfair."  She is one of almost every big city mayor in the state that has called on the legislature to change laws to provide options to cities.

Like other cities, York is sometimes perceived as having a crime problem.  A recent report ranked York 18th in the country in crime per capita -- something the city disputes, saying the methodology was flawed and that York actually has its lowest crime rate in seven years.    

The city's schools have also been graded poorly.

Mayor Bracey will appear on Thursday's program to discuss how she has tackled these issues and others.

Listen to the program:


York Mayor Kim Bracey discusses some of the challenges facing the city on Radio Smart Talk.


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  • Anne Druck img 2013-02-07 08:26

    Mayor Bracey has been a strong advocate of tourism as cost effective economic development for York. In this challenging economy we appreciate her support of our community's tourism industry.
    The cover of the 2013 Official York County Visitors Guide features, by customer vote, Sunrise Soap in Downtown York. Your listeners can go to to see our online guide
    thank you,
    Anne Druck, President York County CVB

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-02-07 09:16

    E-mail from Lee:

    "As a small way to help our State's cities, I would suggest a law that requires Counties to make payments in lieu of taxes to all municipalities in which they own property. In this manner, specific municipalities would not bear the brunt of non-taxable properties."

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-02-07 09:24

    E-mail from Anna:

    "One of the first things that Mayor Bracey mentioned as a major challenge to cities' budgets is "Act 111." What exactly is Act 111? (Other than a law that relates to uniformed officers, as she mentioned) When was it created? She mentioned that it's never been amended, but didn't say how long it's been around and what's changed since then.

    Most important, what is the cost of the law to the city, and what reforms do the cities seek? Can she identify what is standing in the way of legislative action on the issue?"

  • Joel Sears img 2013-02-07 09:41

    Cities like York typically have total property tax rates 2 to 3 times those of their adjacent suburbs. Property values take a beating and homes become increasingly harder to sell without substantial price reductions. Raising taxes of any kind (property, commuter, etc.) to operate the city is a sign of surrender. Mayors of 3rd class cities have tried and failed to find alternatives and, even more to the point, have failed to attract private INVESTMENT that would expand the tax base. They will eventually tax themselves beyond viability for all but non-resident landlords and government entities.

    • Robert D Colgan img 2013-02-07 09:59

      It's a real Catch-22 isn't it?
      They need operating revenue--which continues to increase in costs with standard inflation like fuel prices---yet in a period of economic downturn the tax revenues are not adequate to cover those costs.

      But the whole thing ultimately can be attributed to the horrorstory of the financial crisis perpetrated by the leading financial institutions and foisted on a naive American electorate: the fallout of the reduction in the solvency of the US Treasury after grand scale theft by those financiers is still being passed down to the lower members of the social is literally reverse Robin Hood as the money flows away from the communities and into the pockets of the richest corporations and individuals. Exxon, for one example.

      Small cities like York which lacked any effective monetary cushion were immediately pushed to the brink of insolvency, not unlike the many homeowners who ended up on the street, their vulnerability laid bare.

  • Perry Thompson img 2013-02-07 09:49

    Mayor Bracey, if you have the chance to speak with Reading Mayor Vaughn Spencer & also watch the film "Shift Change: putting democracy to work," please do. One of the films suggestions along the lines of forming and sustaining worker-owned cooperatives is to have a locally owned & operated development bank. Reading, another third-class city in PA, is doing some interesting things right now...

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-02-07 09:55

    E-mail from Tom:

    "I heard the mayor talk of commuter tax...what did they spend the local services tax on?"

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-02-07 09:59

    E-mail from Philista:

    "It is my understanding from anecdotal information that there are over 100 recovery houses in York. Whether that is true or not I don't know. What I do know is that I have met many folks who have been brought here to York to live in these recovery homes. Why has York become the place to go for rehab? It seems to me that these recovery houses are a magnet for drug dealers who prey on the weaknesses of others who often turn to crime to support their addiction.
    Would you address this issue in the near future?"