State lawmakers who represent York County might soon see a spike in emails from their constituents.
York City officials have posted a form letter to the city's website that asks the county's delegation of state legislators to get on board with reforms that could lift York's urban core out of a stubbornly complicated financial hole.
In an "attempt to empower our constituents," city officials are asking anyone and everyone to log on to www.yorkcity.org, review the letter and click send, said Kevin Schreiber, the city's economic and community development director.
"The mayor, the administration, we can write editorials. We can do the testimonies before the House or the Senate and their various committees. We use the bully pulpit in public forums," Schreiber said.
"The message just doesn't seem to be getting across. We need some more legitimate attempts to reform municipal government in the state of Pennsylvania."
Three requests: The letter asks lawmakers to consider doing three things: Develop a menu of local revenue options beyond the property tax; Reform Act 111 to provide for "a more sensible and open collective bargaining process" that considers a municipality's financial situation; and support the Coalition for Sustainable Communities in its advocacy for "meaningful pension reform."
Mayor Kim Bracey has, for example, advocated in the past for optional sales taxes that could buoy property-tax revenue.
The letter points out that York City is in "financial distress," dependent on the property tax to support a "land-locked geographic area that has the highest concentration of blight, poverty and tax-exempt real estate."
"Maybe, if we have thousands of our residents requesting this type of reform, that finally the message will get across," Schreiber said.
Less than a week after the site went live, nearly 250 people had sent letters, he said.
Recommended recipients include state Reps. Keith Gillespie, Scott Perry, Seth Grove, Stan Saylor, Will Tallman, Ron Miller and Eugene DePasquale, and Sens. Michael Waugh, Lloyd Smucker and Jeffrey Piccola.
Web page: The letter is one part of a new page on the city's website dedicated to what's been dubbed the Fiscal Freedom Campaign.
The web page also highlights ways that Bracey's administration has worked to cut costs and increase revenue.
For example, the city is working to collect millions of dollars in unpaid sewer and refuse fees and recently unveiled a fundraising campaign directed at tax-exempt property owners.
There's also a section dedicated to helping city residents cut down on their property-tax bill. The first suggestion is to petition the York County Tax Assessment Board for a reassessment appeal.
With budget season around the corner, city residents shouldn't perceive the campaign as a surrender to a tax increase in 2013, Schreiber said.
But, he said, it is a call for help.
"It's become more and more clear that our options are running fewer," he said. "We need the General Assembly to be more concerned with this."
-- Erin James may also be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.