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York County commissioners mull special allocations

Greg Gross
505-5433/@ggrossyd
  • Organizations cross York County requested $1.6 million in special allocation funding
  • That's about $500,000 more than what was budgeted for

The York Revolution wants $15,000 for its annual Fourth of July fireworks. The York County Children's Advocacy Center wants $105,000 to fight child abuse. York City Police wants $200,000 for its nuisance abatement program. Prospect Hill Cemetery wants $5,000 for a memorial dedicated to first responders.

The letters from nonprofit agencies, businesses and local governments requesting special allocation funds from York County read like a Christmas wish list.

And somewhat like a trio of Santas, the county commissioners must decide which ones will receive funds before they pass the 2016 budget later this month.

"It's very difficult. I don't particularly like the process," said Steve Chronister, the president commissioner. "It's very subjective."

Funding: Called special allocations, the fund that includes farmland preservation, marks contributions the county will make to quasi-governmental organizations and nonprofits.

Organizations across the county requested nearly $7.2 million in funding for 2016, about $500,000 more than what was requested last year, according to budget documents obtained by the York Dispatch through a Right-to-Know request.

But with the county staring down a $15 million budget gap and commissioner poised to raise taxes by 12 percent, county officials said special allocations will remain flat to 2015.

"The best case scenario is holding the line," said Commissioner Chris Reilly.

The county slashed special allocations by 10 percent to meet the budget in the 2000s. But Reilly said he doesn't see that happening now.

Even if the county drastically cut special allocations, or cut them completely, it wouldn't balance the budget, he said.

2016 Preliminary Budget Unveiled

Decisions: With so many organizations asking for funding, the commissioners have to decide which gets a portion of the pie and how large a slice.

"Some asked for more money, but we felt this wasn't the year with the budget gap and everything," said Doug Hoke, vice president commissioner.

With the state budget impasse now in its sixth month, Chronister said he expected to see additional nonprofits, many of which have had to open credit lines to keep afloat without state funding, asking for money but that hasn't been the case.

"I think they know the position we are in, too," he said.

But YWCA York, which has been hit hard by the impasse, did request an additional $50,000 for 2016, over the $75,000 it received this year, documents show.

Chronister said he typically focuses on organizations that provided human services to residents.

"It's all to help people who are helping York Countians," he said.

OtherorganizationsAlso included under the special allocation portion of the budget are agencies affiliated with the county.

The planning commission is slated to receive $1.5 million and the tenth of a mill library tax, expected to generate $2.7 million to fund the county's library system, is included under special allocations. The York Adams Transportation Authority would get $442,808 and requested an additional $35,551, and the York County Economic Alliance would receive $847,000.

Commissioners have a few weeks to sort out the details before they vote on a final budget on Dec. 23.

"We're still tweaking things," Hoke said.

The proposed budget can be viewed at the commissioners' office, 28 E. Market St. in York City, during normal business hours. It also will be posted online at yorkcountypa.gov under the commissioners' tab.

— Reach Greg Gross at ggross@yorkdispatch.com.

Here's a look at which organizations made special allocation requests and for how much:

  • York County Fire School: $300,000
  • Springettsbury Township Volunteer Fire Co,: Not specified in request, county budgeted $4,275
  • York County Emergency Medical Services Training Institute: $16,000
  • Spanish Council of York:$14,000
  • YWCA York:$125,000
  • White Rose Community Television: $65,000
  • Cultural Alliance of York County:$29,134
  • York County Advanced Technical Rescue Team: $10,000
  • York County Children's Advocacy Center: $105,000
  • Truancy Prevention Center (United Way of York County): $40,000
  • York County Honors Choir: $4,275
  • York City Police Nuisance Abatement Program: $200,000
  • Byrnes Health Education Center: $10,000
  • MidPenn Legal Services:$16,000
  • York Revolution: $15,000
  • York County Quick Response Team: $58,000
  • York County Literacy County Council: $10,000
  • York County Bar Foundation: $50,000
  • Penn State York: $4,000
  • Prospect Hill Cemetery: $5,000
  • Penn-Mar Human Services: $100,000
  • York County Agricultural Land Preservation Board: $250,000
  • Salvation Army: $25,000
  • Black Fly Suppression Program: $42,500
  • York County Rail Trail Authority: $75,000
  • York County Planning Commission: $1.5 million
  • York County Economic Alliance:$847,000
  • York Adams Transportation Authority: $478,359