YORK – The conversation about the city’s finances continue as the council, administration and department heads bring forward options for generating more revenue while bringing down expenses as much as possible, in order to have a balanced budget for the 2019-20 fiscal year.
One proposal is to raise the city property tax levy by .0875, taking the current property tax levy from .27 per $100 of valuation to .3575.
It was noted that many municipalities in the state are already at the .45 tax levy limit.
“Many hit the wall a long time ago and right now, we still have 18 cents of levy room,” said Mayor Barry Redfern. “I’m not proposing we raise it to that, but it is important to note this, as we didn’t want to hit people too much too fast. Everyone knew we would have to look at the levy as part of the solution.”
It was also mentioned that the average municipal levy in the state is .30.
Another option being presented for the next fiscal year’s budget is the creation of a debt service levy – an independent, stand-alone levy that would represent the amount of taxation from which the revenue would be directed to pay off debt. Some feel it would more properly designate – for the taxpayer – what they are paying for the city’s debt and what they are paying for operations and other purposes. In other words, it would be “labeling.”
Many municipalities have separate levies for debt service.
A debt service levy was considered at .145 – debt services levies do not pertain to the .45 levy cap.
There was conversation about taxation regarding gross receipts for water and wastewater – but that was met with a lukewarm response.
“This is what this session is for, to talk about all these possible options – looking at everything and the kitchen sink, we have a lot to talk about,” Redfern said.
Thomas noted that the valuation for the city has not yet been received from the assessor’s office – that will come in late August. She said estimates are that there will be some growth in the city of York, due to new houses and business construction.
“We do have reserves in case something would happen, so I don’t think we have to add to the levy just to add to the reserve,” Redfern said . . . and the council members seemed to agree.
“The idea tonight is to be able to analyze what you will be forced to look at for the budget,” Redfern said to the council. “We will have plenty of meetings with plenty more questions . . . and we will be looking at all the proposed capital expenditures and all the individual departments. We have a lot more work to do, I just wanted to be able to get a preliminary budget in your hands so you can consider what you like and don’t like, and how we will move forward.”
Regarding expenses, York City Administrator Joe Frei said everything on the proposed lists from department heads “are justifiable, the city just doesn’t have the means to fund it all. The department heads don’t necessarily like the cuts, but they’ve come to the point where they have accepted them.”
“We will take all the time necessary to go through it all,” Redfern said. “We need to have lots of talks about this, have good conversations about the community wants, regarding moving forward in the future. If these conversations get redundant, I apologize. But I don’t want this to come down like last year where you have to just pass this without time for a good look and deep consideration.”
"We will take all the time necessary to go through it all. We need to have lots of talks about this, have good conversations about the community wants, regarding moving forward in the future. If these conversations get redundant, I apologize. But I don’t want this to come down like last year where you have to just pass this without time for a good look and deep consideration.”
— From Mayor Barry Redfern about this year’s budget process