I  t seems like the three years she's been in office have just flown by, though York City Mayor Kim Bracey probably thinks otherwise.

I'm sure it hasn't been the easiest three years she's ever had.

Or the most pleasant.

And I'm sure she's taken my name in vain more than once these last three years.

But I did notice a published mention the other day that Bracey apparently has decided to run for another term in office as mayor once this one expires next year.

And in my mind that's good news.

To be honest, I'd sort of been waiting for an announcement that Bracey was going to throw her hat into the ring as a replacement for outgoing state Rep. Eugene DePasquale, D-West Manchester Township, who was elected as the state's auditor general starting next month.

But I guess she's taking a pass on that. Maybe she never even considered it.

Either way, it's a good deal for York City residents.

Yes, it's true I haven't always agreed with her philosophically, fiscally or politically. I've said so occasionally.

But I've agreed often enough.

It's also true she's been the mayor in what might have been the most difficult three-year period in the city over the last 50 years or so -- the one exception being 1968 through 1971, the years leading up to, including and immediately after the race riots in York City.

Not that the eight years' service of former Mayor John Brenner were a walk in the park -- they weren't -- but most of his time was spent cleaning up the mess left by the guy who held the office before him. It wasn't easy, but it was doable. And yes, he pretty much accomplished the task.

But Bracey came into the office of mayor at the worst possible time, the middle of an economic downturn, a fiscal crisis that has pretty much brought most American cities to their knees.

That includes York City, of course.

Yes, York City's financial woes go back a long way -- 30 years, at least. Yes, it's always been a struggle to match spending with revenue. Yes, it's always been difficult to hold the line on property taxes, when city taxpayers already were paying three or four times higher taxes than anyone else in York County.

But when Bracey came into office, it seemed to get worse.

Not due to anything she did or didn't do, either. The ball was tossed into her court on Day 1 in office, and she played it.

Two weeks ago, she announced a $96 million budget for next year that calls for no tax increase and no significant cuts in services or personnel.

The most cynical among us might be quick to respond to that news by saying, "Of course, she's balancing the budget in the year she's running for re-election. What did you expect?"

That's one way of looking at it, I guess.

But I'm taking the high road on this one, except for noting that I disagree almost totally with the employee raises built into this budget.

Nevertheless, given the debate that went along with the budget approval process, and the angst generated by it, in the last three budgets -- they totaled a 30 percent-plus increase in taxes -- avoiding a tax hike in 2013 is a big deal.

Can you say "balanced budget?" Finally, Mayor Bracey can do just that.

As long as the city council passes it, that is.

I'm not her public relations agent, but I've watched somewhat from afar, and I've been pleased at the way she's grown into her job.

I liked, for instance, her involvement in the statewide initiative calling for new restrictions related to the sale and ownership of handguns and straw purchases.

She took a stand. And she was on the right side of the discussion, too.

Yes, there have been a couple of times when I thought she was a little too political for her own good -- her involvement in the Toni Smith and Michael Helfrich debacle being perhaps the best example of that.

But there is no whine in this woman.

There's no denying her commitment to York City.

And there's no denying her willingness to put in long hours on the job, whether it has to do with relocating the city's administrative offices to South George Street, expanding the space available to the York City Police Department or promoting businesses in downtown York.

You turn on the TV, and there she is. You walk downtown, and there she is. You drive through the city on a Saturday morning, and there she is sweeping up trash along the street to promote a cleaner inner-city.

She's done her duty and then some.

But there's a lot more work to be done.

And I'm thinking she just might be the person to get it done.

Columns by Larry A. Hicks, Dispatch columnist, run Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. E-mail: lhicks@yorkdispatch.com.