More than five months after officials settled their long-winded debate over the city's 2012 budget, the stewards of York's parking system remain without a spending plan of their own.
Without a budget, the General Authority is unable to reimburse the city for the day-to-day cost of managing the city's system of parking garages and meters, which the authority owns but the city operates.
However, officials say the authority's lack of a 2012 budget hasn't caused a financial hardship -- yet.
"The city's cash flow is always fat in the beginning of the year," said city business administrator Michael O'Rourke. "As soon as they approve their budget, they're going to reimburse us for everything we've spent so far on the operation of the garages."
The delay: The authority's no-budget status, O'Rourke said, is essentially a remnant of last year's extended budget season.
In her initial 2012 proposal, Mayor Kim Bracey included a plan for the city to resume ownership of the parking system. But the controversial idea was rejected by the York City Council, whose members balked at the nearly $5 million in parking-related debt that would transfer to city books. The rejection was cemented with a Dec. 31 approval of an amended budget.
That left the General Authority -- whose seven-member board is appointed by the mayor -- to start over, O'Rourke said.
"You can't make a budget if you don't know what you're making a budget for," he said. "We couldn't do their budget because we didn't know what City Council was going to do. It kind of got hung up in limbo."
Also, recent retirements in the city's finance office left the task to O'Rourke, who said he's struggled to navigate the spreadsheets left behind. A lack of a quorum at the authority's May meeting further delayed approval.
"They have been wanting a budget, and I have been trying to get it done for them," O'Rourke said.
This isn't the first time the General Authority has started the year without a budget, O'Rourke said. The same thing has happened the past few years.
The Rev. Patrick Rooney, who serves as the authority's chairman, said he is hopeful the board will pass a budget in June. The lack of a budget does not affect the authority's debt-service payments, Rooney said.
Possibilities: Looking ahead to 2013, O'Rourke said he and Community and Economic Development Director Kevin Schreiber are working on an analysis of the city's three parking-system options.
Those options are to transfer ownership of the system from the General Authority to the city, transfer management and administration of the system to the General Authority or keep the arrangement as it is.
That decision is left exclusively with city officials, Rooney said.
"We're waiting for their move," he said. "If the mayor says to us, we want to take all the parking back, that's her call. We're waiting for them to tell us what they'd like to do."
Rooney said he anticipates last year's debate over the parking system to resume this summer. He and the other board members are waiting for the city's analysis and the mayor's subsequent proposal.
No matter what, there's work to do, he said.
If the status quo persists, Rooney said, the management agreements between the authority and the city need an overhaul.
Handing everything over to the city would, in theory, be simpler than the other way around, he said.
"Whatever we do, we want to try to wrap it up as quickly as possible," Rooney said.
-- Reach Erin James at 505-5439 or email@example.com or on Twitter @ydcity.