Some members of the York City Council think they'd be better off with a solicitor of their own.
No one's made a formal proposal yet, but the idea of retaining a lawyer separate from the city's solicitor's office -- which is staffed by one full-time and one part-time attorney -- has come up at recent council meetings.
As Councilman Michael Helfrich sees it, the city's legislative and executive branches don't always agree.
"If the mayor and the council don't agree on something, who is the solicitor representing?" Helfrich said.
Council President Carol Hill-Evans said she "definitely" wants to pursue the idea, though it would require the council to add some expense to its 2013 budget. Hill-Evans said she is not interested in hiring a full-time solicitor for the council.
"I don't think we could afford that," she said.
But, Hill-Evans said, a few thousand dollars might be enough to retain a lawyer for consultation when needed.
"There can always come a time when the council is not at the same place as the mayor," Hill-Evans said. "We would just like to have somebody who's not working for both of us."
Balanced budget: The council must approve a balanced budget before Jan. 1. Mayor Kim Bracey has proposed a budget that includes no property-tax increase. The council has scheduled two hearings to ask questions and take public comments about the proposal.
At the first hearing Tuesday, the city's business administrator advised the council that a modest increase in the council's budget would not throw the mayor's 2013 budget proposal out of whack.
As required by state law, the city has budgeted revenue in excess of expenses, Michael O'Rourke said.
"You can just increase that line item and you'll still be within the requirements of the ordinance," he said.
But O'Rourke disagreed with council members' rationale for considering hiring its own lawyer.
The solicitor's office represents "the city of York" -- not the mayor, council or individual departments, O'Rourke said.
"The city cannot have a conflict with itself," he said.
A second budget hearing is scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday at City Hall, 101 S. George St.
-- Erin James may also be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.