Next mayor: West York ready to move on
The outgoing mayor of West York continues to complain on Facebook about his removal, but his soon-to-be replacement says the issue is a done deal and that the borough is moving forward.
"He tendered his resignation, and we accepted it," borough council president and, as of Friday, mayor Shawn Mauck reiterated on Tuesday, after the council voted to do that the night before. "He put it in writing."
Charles Wasko, who was elected mayor in 2013, has made several posts on Facebook this year that council members and community members took issue with. Two compared President Barack Obama and his family to apes, and one suggested Obama should be hanged with a noose. Another post featured a fictional black person saying that socialism is "when the white folks work every day so we can get all our governmental entitlement stuff for free." The post with the noose appears to have been removed, but the others remain up on his public Facebook page.
On Monday night, the council voted to accept an email from Wasko as a formal resignation, which the members of the board and the public had sought since The York Dispatch brought Wasko's posts to light in September.
As has been the case in the weeks since his posts made national news, Wasko on Tuesday continued not to respond to messages and knocks on his door by Dispatch staff seeking comment. He also didn't answer an email asking if he planned to challenge the reasoning behind the council voting on his resignation.
On his Facebook page, though, Wasko posted on Monday that, "This is not what the letter states as turned around by Mauck to meet his agenda and posted in the press."
Condition: In the post, which Wasko sent out about 7:30 p.m. Monday as the meeting he didn't attend was wrapping up, he wrote that the condition in question was that the borough "entertain the thought of looking for an outside person, male or female, of any ethnicity, with a bachelor's degree from an accredited university in a related field of study, such as criminal justice or police science, that has at 'LEAST' 4 years of experience OF AT LEAST a Sergeant, that is looking to become a Chief of Police for the Borough of West York."
When Mauck offered up the motion to accept Wasko's resignation, the council president did state that request verbatim, except for adding in the words "in rank" after "sergeant." According to Mauck, the letter said that if that condition or another of three others specified in the email were met, Wasko wrote that "(his) resignation takes effect in 10 days." The council got the letter Oct. 11, so 10 days from that is this Friday, at which point Mauck will become mayor, serving out the year left in Wasko's term, as the council unanimously voted on Monday night.
About 24 hours after the council voted Wasko out, Mauck said the borough hadn't heard from him. Mauck focused on the word "entertain" — the council did entertain that idea almost immediately after it got the letter, so the board fulfilled what Wasko wanted, the council president said.
"We clearly met the language in his resignation," he said.
What's next? Now the borough is seeking a new council member to fill the vacancy created by Mauck's departure.
"It would be great for us to have some continued diversity," he said. Almost all of the borough's officials are white, though minorities compose about a quarter of West York residents.
Any West York resident interested in the position can call the borough at 717-846-8889.
Mauck also said that he expects the borough will be able to lower taxes for next year's budget.
Right now, West York levies 8.5 mills in property taxes on its residents, among the highest in York County outside of York City, according to county records. Mauck said Tuesday that he believes the council will be able to drop that by "at least a quarter-mill," which would mean owners of houses assessed at $100,000 would have $25 or more extra in their pockets every year.
Mauck has said this has come from administrative cost-saving measures and more aggressive collections on delinquent sewer bills.
In Monday's meeting, the borough leased its old office to the Borough Animal Rescue Krew — BARk — which will pay $100 a month for it, as well as utilities, making sure that the building doesn't remain vacant.
The borough administration and police department moved out of that building on West Philadelphia Street earlier this year and into the former Grace Loucks Elementary School at 1381 W. Poplar St., which Mauck was proud to say the borough bought without taking on debt. He said the borough is in the process of leasing out some of the rooms in an effort to make the building cost neutral.
Maybe more than anything, though, Mauck stressed that his new job is to promote the interests of the borough and to be a rallying point for its residents.
"We need to have more community outreach," he said. "West York needs a true cheerleader."