It was exciting to hear 21 people were interested in serving on York City Council, filling the very large vacancy left by neighborhood champion Joanne Borders. Twenty-one citizens felt concerned and passionate enough about our beautiful and historic city that they were willing to represent our residents.
While not fortunate enough to be interviewed for the position on council, I have already had the wonderful opportunity to serve our neighborhoods and residents in York. Having served as Bring On Play's (BOP) founding chairperson and chair for the 2009 Lincoln Park revitalization, as well as the current co-chair for the 2011 and 2012 Plaza Palooza event series, it is exciting to help bring play to York City. Bring On Play supports the mayor's Let's Move initiative by supporting York City's park and recreation department.
It is inspiring for me to see the collective spirit of residents, neighborhoods, churches, schools, nonprofits, businesses, parents and families who have all rallied together in support of our mission to promote play. Our 100 percent volunteer committee has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to help renovate playgrounds. We have organized four playground builds, five free annual day of play programs, six family friendly First Fridays, two BOPstacle races, two National Night Out events, and 20 Plaza Palooza events.
We have engaged hundreds of volunteers of all ages, races, ethnicities, religions who all care about our children and our city. This movement has proven that anything can be accomplished with a little elbow grease and a lot of passion to make things better.
York City's financial challenges are not the result of big government or wasteful spending.
Thirty-seven percent of York City's properties are tax-exempt. These entities serve our entire York County community. In 2012, 69.9 cents of every city tax dollar spent went exclusively toward public safety. It is projected to go up to 80 cents by 2020. This leaves a mere 20 cents of every tax dollar to cover street repair, snow removal, fight blight, spur economic development, maintain parks and offer recreation and youth programs, improve lighting, and more.
York's financial issues, much like Reading, Altoona, Scranton, Bethlehem and Harrisburg, are the direct result of pension liabilities, health care costs and a state government that has consistently shown an inability to reform our local tax structure.
Now is the time for York City Council -- all five members -- to find new ways to engage our residents, business, churches, nonprofits and partners in civic involvement. Who will be the next BOP? What would a 100 percent volunteer initiative look like to decrease crime? Who will lead to help turn lights on; walk at night; pick up trash; report abandoned cars; call, text or report crime in our neighborhoods? Who will become real partners for the city's future? Who will follow Public Works Director Jim Gross' lead to engage citizens and organizations just like our Bring On Play committee?
What would a 100 percent volunteer initiative look like to assist with economic development? Who will help promote our small businesses, shops, markets, art galleries and eateries? What will Yorkers do to spend more nights out supporting our own homegrown businesses?
What can citizens and council members do together to encourage our state representatives in Harrisburg to begin a real fight for our cities? Who will lead in the General Assembly to step up and make a lasting difference for our communities? Who will fight for commonsense public employee binding arbitration and pension reform? Visit http://yorkcity.org/fiscal-freedom-campaign to lend your voice to York City.
There were 21 who applied for city council. Who will serve our community?
Ask not what York City will do for you but what will you do for York City.