The West York borough council approved a $2.96 million 2017 budget Monday that includes a small reduction in real estate property taxes.
The borough’s property-tax rate will drop a quarter-mill to 8.25 mills, with owners of homes valued at $50,000 saving $12.50 in 2017.
The council presented Mayor Shawn Mauck with a budget that contains only minor changes in several line items from the previous fiscal year, aside from the tax cut. Mauck had promised to veto the budget if it did not contain the tax reduction.
Mauck said he was proud of the tax cut despite the borough’s reputation for being “financially strapped.” The mayor said he worked with council members to make some difficult cost-reduction choices and smart investments that enable the borough to “have a better financial picture” in 2017.
“You have to put a plan in place and execute it,” Mauck said. “We were able to do that effectively, and we’re going to have a continuation of that for 2017 and 2018.”
Mauck said he was hopeful the borough would maintain its current trajectory and further reduce taxes in the next budget.
Investments: West York borough now operates out of the former Grace Loucks Elementary School after purchasing the West Poplar Street property at the end of May instead of renovating its old office at 1700 W. Philadelphia St.
The borough was able to pay for the building in cash and incurred no debts in the process, Mauck said, calling the new building “a huge benefit” to taxpayers.
“We’re able to provide services out of this building that we’ve never provided before in West York’s history,” Mauck said. “It’s a great setup for 2017.”
The move allows the borough to save money on off-site storage fees, as the West York Police had been forced to rent storage space for evidence because of a lack of space in the old location, Mauck said.
Day-to-day borough operations are running more smoothly in the new building, Mauck said, with code enforcement officers, emergency management officials, borough council and police all under one roof.
Families can rent out the building’s cafeteria for events, while the extra space also allows borough officials to do more community outreach, including Mauck’s “Coffee with the Mayor” initiative and his reading program.
The borough has started leasing office space in the former school, a move that is projected to earn the borough $16,000 in 2017, covering the cost of utilities and opening opportunities for new programs, Mauck said.
Police chief: A motion to approve West York’s acting Police Chief Matt Millsaps as the permanent replacement for former Chief Justin Siebel was on the agenda for Monday's meeting, but Millsaps requested a session for further contract discussions after Monday’s meeting.
Mauck said the council came to a tentative agreement with Millsaps after the session, and he expects the contract to be ratified at the council’s next meeting, Jan. 3.
Turning the corner: Mauck credited the council for much of the “tremendous amount of progress” that has been made in recent months and said he is happy to be spearheading the new administration.
Mauck took over as mayor in the wake of Charles Wasko’s resignation from the position in October.
“You can’t change decades’ worth of inactivity overnight, but we’ve made a hell of a lot of progress,” Mauck said.
In the new year, Mauck said, he will look to increase and improve community outreach efforts to better understand the problems West York residents face. Mauck also will look to coordinate efforts with surrounding municipalities to reduce costs and provide new programs, such as a parks-and-recreation program.
Other issues: The council worked through a number of logistical issues at Monday night’s meeting.
Borough employee Ruth Landis will serve as the acting Right-to-Know officer and acting secretary for the borough as it seeks to fill those positions as well as vacancies in the borough manager, treasurer and zoning offices.
The York Water Co. is close to completing the process of acquiring West York’s wastewater collection, with state approval expected in the next few days, according to a company representative.
If approved, York Water will begin serving West York residents about Feb. 1, according to tentative plans between the company and the borough.
The borough also accepted a bid from Paychex Inc. for payroll services and a bid from Haller Enterprises for a construction/renovation project.