Staring at a tax increase after three consecutive years of holding the line, York County Commissioners cut slightly the amount in special allocations provided to organizations in the county's proposed 2013 budget.
Special allocations are paid from the county's general fund and earmark more than $6 million for numerous organizations.
Most of those groups are quasi-governmental groups such as Rabbit Transit and the York County Planning Commission, but commissioners set aside $1.4 million for nonprofits such as the YWCA of York County and York County Community Foundation.
While most of the quasi-governmental allocations were unchanged, many of the other organizations were reduced by about 10 percent for the coming year's budget. Some organizations took a steeper cut, and some new programs were added.
The county is eyeing an 8.9 percent tax increase, from 4.15 to 4.52 mills. That means the owner of a home assessed at $150,000 would pay $678 in county real estate taxes, $55 more than the $623 paid in 2012.
County officials trimmed the overall special allocations fund by only about 1 percent, from $6.67 million last year to $6.59 million in 2012. The current board has trimmed special allocations by 7.8 percent over the past four years, but President Commissioner Steve Chronister said the special funding is a priority because some organizations "wouldn't have a program without the help of somebody."
"If there's a lift we can give them for a year or two, I'm willing to do it," he said.
But how much of a lift depended on the organization, and whether commissioners considered it a priority this year.
A nuisance abatement program, through which the county helps York City pay for four police officers who deal with noise and other nuisance complaints, was cut by 50 percent, from $200,000 in 2012 to $100,000 proposed for 2013.
"I think the conventional knowledge on that was that the city didn't have to raise taxes this year; we did," said Commissioner Chris Reilly. "We had to prioritize, and basically that's what it comes down to. That type of funding is a luxury item. We were helping the city because we were in a position to do so, and this year we just can't do it."
New organizations: Three new organizations were added to the list for 2013. Downtown Inc is set to receive $22,500 to promote York City. Performing Arts for Children, a literacy and arts initiative, is allocated $3,600. And the York County Truancy Prevention Initiative, a school program through which students with patterns of unexcused absences are referred by school administrators or district magistrates, is in line to get $36,000.
Commissioner Doug Hoke said every organization provides something important to the people of York County, but the commissioners have to prioritize.
"Each (nonprofit) has a segment that I think is important to the community," he said.
Downtown Inc had never formally requested funding before, but he feels the county should support it because the county seat is downtown and county government, which has three buildings downtown, "is part of the community," he said.
Meanwhile the county's Quick Response Team, a tactical team that navigates standoffs and other police situations, received a 60 percent cut for the coming year, from $50,000 to $20,000.
Reilly said that's because last year's amount included extra money because the group needed new equipment such as bulletproof vests, "and now they're going back to the level they were before."
"The general consensus was that we had to reduce (special allocations), and we tried to think it through and prioritize," he said. "The different entities all have different needs, but it should be a year-to-year decision process, and I don't feel any of the recipients feel entitled to it year after year. We have to consider the impact on the taxpayers."
Organizations that receive less than they had hoped should not interpret that as commissioner dissatisfaction with their programs, he said.
Commissioners are expected to vote on the budget at their regularly scheduled meeting, 10 a.m. Dec. 19 at the York County Administrative Center, 28 E. Market St.
-- Reach Christina Kauffman at firstname.lastname@example.org.