State of the City focuses on raising quality of life

Sean Philip Cotter

York City Mayor Kim Bracey gave her annual State of the City address Wednesday night, touted the economic progress her city has made over the past few years, and promised new initiatives geared at improving the quality of life for her constituents.

She said the city needed to continue to push forward; it needs to keep putting itself out there and trying new ways of improving. To bring home the point, she quoted York High grad Bruce Arians, who's now the head coach of the Arizona Cardinals.

"No risk it, no biscuit," she said a couple of times throughout the night.

She announced two main new initiatives. One was what she dubbed the "corner store cornerstone" program, in which the city's bureau of health will administer grants from the state to about eight convenience stores in the city.

The stores will use the grants to maintain offerings of fresh, healthful food, such as fruits and vegetables.

"All of our citizens deserve access to fresh food," she said.

Also over the next few months, she plans on "bringing city hall to the communities." She plans on holding events around town that bring services to the various areas. Talking to the media after the address, she hesitated to call the events town halls — while people wouldn't be discouraged from coming to address the government about whatever they want, this would be more an opportunity for people to come and get tangible assistance from a codes officer, or the public works department, or another government service.

Bracey stressed her administration had moved to "do more with less." She said the number of city hall workers had shrank by a third, and the goal is to lower municipal property taxes by 15 percent over the course of five years. The city cut taxes by a small amount this year, the first year of that plan, which she said they're on track to meet.

"I'm sticking to it," she said.

She said the city will continue to encourage investment into the area. She used the erection of the York Revolution's baseball stadium a decade ago as a reference point for when she said reinvestment began in earnest in York City. She said $200 million in investment has come into the city since then.

In her address, she gave pats on the back to United Fiber & Data, which has plans to run fiber lines from New York City through York, as well as Royal Square, which continues to develop various parts of downtown.

She also talked about the York City Police Department's body-camera program, which is entering its third month of a 14-officer pilot program. She said the department is on track to have all of its uniformed officers equipped with the cameras by the time that three-month program ends as scheduled.

"That's the plan," she said.

She talked about the department's efforts to connect with the people they serve, and then added that community policing is a "two-way street."

"Responsibility starts at the kitchen table," she said.

She acknowledged the recent spate of crime in York, and said the city and its police department will begin to roll out a plan over the next couple of months to combat gang activity. In the address, she appealed to the people perpetrating the violence to stop and find a better way.

"Your lives have purpose," she said. "Your lives have meaning."

— Reach Sean Cotter or on Twitter at@SPCotterYD.