The plight of cities across Pennsylvania has been well documented by the media. We've heard the horror stories of cities like Harrisburg, Scranton, Reading and dozens of other cities similar in size and circumstances to York. Harrisburg is bankrupt and liquidating every asset it can peddle. Reading was given the dubious distinction of being named by the New York Times as the poorest city in America. Scranton is in such dire straits that it has reverted to paying every city employee, from mayor to trash collector, the minimum wage. Scranton has also proposed a budget that would lay off 29 employees and increase taxes by 29 percent.
Closer to home, we know that York, too, faces very serious fiscal challenges. Dollars are being stretched to the limit to meet all the mandated and ethical obligations of the city and to provide us, the citizens, the services we expect.
In my position running a nonprofit organization here in York, I have come to appreciate the protection we receive from the York City Police and Fire Departments. City streets and parks are maintained for our benefit. I also recognize the infrastructure amenities provided by the city as well as its beautification initiatives. I know all of this comes at a cost of real dollars.
By definition nonprofits like mine are tax-exempt. This increases the burden on residents and businesses to cover the full cost of city services. But there is a limit to how much York can levy in taxes without driving out taxpayers and businesses to bedroom communities outside the city limits. Most would agree that we've reached the limit of what taxpayers can afford. Over the decade from 2001 to 2011 city real estate taxes increased from 9.73 mills to 17.38. With every resident and business that leaves, the problem is compounded.
In the City of York, 38 percent of all properties, measured in dollar value, are exempt and pay no real estate taxes. These properties include government, utilities, churches, social service agencies, hospitals, education and post-secondary schools. While I am confident each of these nonprofits is an asset to our community and does good work, I also know that all of us in the nonprofit world have an expectation that the city will provide critical services. A few of these organizations are making voluntary payments in lieu of taxes. These organizations should be applauded; they are doing the right thing. Unfortunately, it is a very small minority who make such contributions.
The value of tax-exempt properties in York is over $600 million. If these properties were taxed it would amount to revenue of approximately $10 million. By contrast, the city receives just $314,000 in payments from the nonprofit community. If the city were to receive even one-fifth of the $10 million, it would collect nearly $2 million of new revenue. This would go a long way toward curing the annual deficits in the city budget. And this is not an unrealistic goal -- neighboring Lancaster currently collects $1.50 million in voluntary payments from its tax-exempt organizations each year.
For nonprofits like ours it is a time of great stress. I relate to the fact that public support has dwindled, and it is increasingly difficult to generate donations. However, it is critical that we recognize our obligation to the community in which we reside. MANTEC currently faces financial challenges unprecedented in our 25-year history, but with full knowledge of this our board of directors recently approved a voluntary payment to York of $11,000. This represents 100 percent of what our tax would be if we were a for-profit business, and our board made the commitment to pay this amount every year going forward.
Mayor Kim Bracey and the York City Council have launched PILOT -- Payment In Lieu Of Taxes -- as an initiative to raise awareness throughout the nonprofit community of York and collect much-needed revenue. As just one of hundreds of nonprofits based in York, MANTEC is in full support of the PILOT Program.
I am proud to call York home and my hope is that all citizens will pull together and do our fair share to ensure that York's best days lie ahead. I strongly encourage my nonprofit colleagues in this community to give just consideration to a voluntary PILOT contribution to the City of York. It is the fair and right thing to do.
-- John W. Lloyd is presi dent and CEO of MANTEC, the Industrial Resource Center of South Central Pennsylvania.