York City officials said Monday they intend to balance a 2014 budget without increasing property taxes or sewer rates.
If Mayor Kim Bracey accomplishes that goal, it'll be the second consecutive year of tax relief for property owners in a city where the property-tax rate is significantly higher than anywhere else in York County.
"We are committed to working to that end," Bracey said.
Bracey said she has again asked department directors to hold the city's budget at 2010 levels.
But, after just the first of four planned hearings on the 2014 budget this week, it's clear Bracey and her finance team have a challenge ahead of them.
The mayor and her budget team are hosting the public hearings, a first-round opportunity for department directors to present their proposals for next year. For example, on Monday, public works director Jim Gross said his department needs to replace five aging vehicles in its fleet.
Those potential expenses are tiny, however, compared to the wish list proposed by Andrew Jantzer, the city's new general manager of wastewater facilities.
Jantzer proposed a list of what he called "mini projects," engineering studies and upgrades at the city's wastewater treatment plant that would cost the city hundreds of thousands of dollars next year if approved.
For example, Jantzer said the city's wastewater treatment plant needs a new fence around its perimeter - a project that would cost about $27,000.
Jantzer is also responsible for managing the city's sewer system. In that budget, he proposed a
There are pipes in the city that are leaking, he said.
According to business administrator Michael O'Rourke, Jantzer's proposal amounts to a 150 percent increase in the city's sewer budget - something, O'Rourke said, that is just "not possible."
The city cannot increase sewer customers' rates this year, he said.
O'Rourke said he understands the need to incrementally replace sewer pipes.
"But not a million dollars a year," he said.- Reach Erin James at email@example.com.