York City Mayor Kim Bracey has long called on Pennstylvania legislators to overhaul an "antiquated" local government system she says unfairly burdens third-class cities' taxpayers.
Now forced to rely almost solely on their already overburdened property owners, cities like York, Lancaster and Bethlehem need a new menu of taxing options, she says.
We happen to agree.
Third-class cities often are county seats, home to a disproportionate number of tax-exempt state, county and federal properties, as well as nonprofit social services.
In York City, 37 percent of all property is tax-exempt. Although the owners and their employees, clients or members all benefit from city services, they aren't required to pay for them.
That falls to the people who live in York, by far the county's highest-taxed municipality.
It's just not right.
Everyone who, for instance, uses York City's roads or receives services from its police and fire departments should pay his or her fair share.
While we believe Bracey and her fellow mayors should continue lobbying the General Assembley for relief, they should not hold their breath.
Lawmakers so far have shown no inclination to make the changes necessary to revitalize Pennsylvania's third-class cities.
It's up to them, therefore, to use every option currently available to accomplish the same goal - fairly spreading the tax burden.
Enter the admissions tax, a levy available to York City for years - and, in fact, included in recent budgets - but never collected.
That's going to change some time next year, when ice skaters, concertgoers and anyone else who pays to attend an event in York City will be required to pay a tax on their tickets.
The proposed 2014 budget she presented to city council this week was a tough one, Bracey said.
York City's costs continue to rise, and revenue hasn't kept pace, she said. Short of a property tax hike, the admission tax was one of few options.
And, Bracey said, she wasn't about to leave any revenue on the table.
No, city residents will not see a tax increase next year, but after recent double-digit hikes - on top of skyrocketing school district taxes - they could hardly afford one anyway.
In fact, weighed down by those taxes, York's real estate market has tanked in recent years. It's now possible to buy a city house, if anyone wanted it, for about the price of a decent car.
The admissions tax, expected to be 5 percent of a ticket price, is expected to generate $75,000 for the city, according to the proposed budget.
While the tax might be a nuisance for those who visit the York for fun, the alternative could have been yet another crushing blow to the people who actually live there.