There's one complaint Henry Nixon hears all the time from York City residents.
Frustrated property owners wonder why their neighbors aren't all forced to obey the same rules, the type that require lawns to be mowed and rain spouts maintained. Sometimes, Nixon said, residents also say it's tough to get a response from city workers charged with fielding complaints and enforcing those rules.
The York City councilman said it's got him wondering if the city needs a fifth inspector to keep up with the demand of property complaints and code violations. Four people to do the job might not be adequate, Nixon said.
"Enforcement is clearly the issue," he said. "That's what everybody is worried about."
Nixon made his comments Tuesday at a budget hearing, the second of five this week for city administrators to present their budget requests for 2013. Before December, Mayor Kim Bracey will propose an official budget to the York City Council, which then has until the end of the year to approve a balanced budget.
Last year, that process ended in a 17 percent property-tax hike in a city where property owners already pay far more in school and municipal taxes than anywhere else in the county.
Nixon said he is committed to finding room in the 2013 budget for a fifth inspector - but not at the expense of a laid-off police officer or a tax increase. Trimming the budget in other areas might free up some money, he said.
"I think it's really important," he said. "Those four people are doing everything they can do, and they still can't get it done. It's not their fault."
The current inspectors make between $35,464 and $38,834 per year, not including benefits.
Kevin Schreiber, the economic and community development director, agreed that the city's property-maintenance inspectors are spread too thin. Schreiber said he is not proposing to add a fifth position but would be open to considering that idea.
On Monday, business administrator Michael O'Rourke said he is positive a tax increase can be avoided this year.
With that goal in mind, department leaders have been instructed to keep expenses at current levels.
So far this week, two departments - public works and economic and community development - have proposed budgets with little or no impact on the city's taxpayer-supported general fund. The business administration, police and fire departments will present before Friday.
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