York City officials are continuing to weave their way through a 2014 budgeting process that, so far, has made Mayor Kim Bracey wince more than once.
Earlier this week, Bracey expressed serious concern over a proposal from the supervisor of the city's wastewater treatment plant and sewer system to set aside $1 million next year for the replacement of sewer pipes and tens of thousands of dollars more for smaller projects.
On Wednesday, Bracey said a $600,000 expense proposed by the city's director of information systems also gave her pause.
According to Tom King, about a dozen of the city's software systems are grossly outdated. Some date to 1998, he said.
He is proposing that the city purchase Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012, which would replace the city's existing financial-management system. It would be faster, more reliable and capable of communicating with other software applications, King said.
Bracey said she understands the need to upgrade the city's infrastructure. But, "this is a lot of money," she said.
Michael O'Rourke, the city's business administrator, said the new system would make accounting easier. For example, he said, the current system was not capable of coherently recording the amount of money the city collected through an amnesty program for overdue sewer and trash bills.
"We don't want it to die and not have any support either," O'Rourke said.
Bracey said she'd consider the purchase if grant money is available to offset some of it.
Also Wednesday, York City clerk Dianna Thompson-Mitchell proposed increasing the city council's "other professional services" line item from $2,000 to $20,000 next year.
The additional money, she said, would pay for about 56 hours of consultation with an attorney - separate from the city's solicitor's office, which is staffed by one full-time and one part-time attorney.
That idea was proposed and supported by several council members last year. At the time, Councilman Michael Helfrich said the council's solicitor would be useful in matters when the council and the mayor's office don't agree.
"They may need it. They may not," Thompson-Mitchell said.
Bracey presented the proposed budget for the city's Human Relations Commission, which is overseen by a volunteer board that's almost completely turned over in the past year. That board also fired its executive director earlier this year.
The mayor is proposing to keep the commission's funding flat at about $160,000.
Bracey said she intends to financially support the commission, including the hiring of two full-time staff members, "or whatever the commission decides to put in place."
Bracey said she'll give a more formal presentation to the council later this year about her goals for HRC.
"We think this will at least get the commission started in a positive way," Bracey said.
The mayor's budget hearings continue Thursday with proposals from the city's fire and police departments. The hearing is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. in council chambers at City Hall, 101 S. George St.
A chance for the public to comment is scheduled for 10 a.m. Friday.- Reach Erin James at firstname.lastname@example.org.