When Jim Norman tells friends about his monthly tax bill, they assume he lives in a ritzy gated community.

That's not the case, of course.

Norman is a York City resident, one of five who took advantage of an opportunity Friday morning for the public to address Mayor Kim Bracey about next year's city budget.

Norman said he's happy to hear the mayor is aiming to avoid a tax hike in 2013. But the retired IRS agent also said he was "expecting a tax decrease."

"I'd like to see some cutbacks - some doing more with less," he said.

Franklin Williams, a city resident since 1997, urged the administration to spend money on what the city needs, not just what would be nice to have.

For example, he said, the city does not need "enough police officers to handle a riot" when mutual-aid agreements with surrounding municipalities would manage that situation.

"I hate to think we may come to the time we can't pay for the things we need," he said.

People who own homes and businesses in York City pay far more in property taxes than anywhere else in York County. Those rates have skyrocketed in recent years, with a 17 percent tax hike in 2012 following an 11 percent increase in 2011.

It's still early in the budgeting process, but officials seem to think they can hold the line in 2013.

The city's business administrator, Michael O'Rourke, has been especially optimistic. He said last week he's "100 percent" sure the city can avoid a tax increase in 2013.

But what about Norman's expectation of a tax decrease?

"Not this year," Bracey said after the hearing Friday.

She also addressed Norman's call for multi-year plans, rather than just the annual tax-cut-spend discussions.

Bracey, now in the third year of a four-year term, said she is always working on long-term ways to save taxpayer dollars. She cited ongoing discussions with York Area United Fire and Rescue about a potential merger of fire services.

"We're working on a number of things," she said.

- Erin James may also be reached at ejames@yorkdispatch.com.