West York borough proposes 2021 budget without tax hike — for now

Lindsey O'Laughlin
York Dispatch

The West York Borough Council approved a preliminary 2021 budget Monday that cut spending by about $86,000 while keeping taxes flat. 

The West York Borough Police had two officer vacancies this year that were never filled, borough manager Shawn Mauck said, and the preliminary 2021 proposal would remove those two positions from the budget. Those cuts to the police department would account for the majority of reductions in the proposed budget. 

No officers would lose their jobs.

The draft budget also includes a proposed $10 increase in quarterly trash pick-up fees.

"We did a study in the office as to what we’ve been paying since 2006 in quarterly payments and how they really have not adjusted with the times," Mauck said.

Borough residents pay $75 per quarter now for their trash services. The fee per household would increase to $85 per quarter under the draft spending plan.

The total proposed preliminary 2021 budget includes $3.88 million in spending, down from $3.97 million in 2020. 

The borough's tax rate is 11 mills, and the preliminary budget the council approved doesn't have a tax hike.

But Mauck also included revenue calculations for council members to see how the budget would change if they were to decide, in their budget deliberations, that a millage hike was warranted.

A 0.5-mill increase would give the borough an extra $92,778 in property tax revenue, and a 1-mill increase would be an extra $166,373.

After the preliminary budget has been advertised for 30 days, the council will vote on a proposed final budget.

Mauck said residents are encouraged to attend a town hall meeting at 1 p.m. Saturday at the borough's public works complex, 1321 W. King St., to share their questions and concerns about the budget.

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West York Borough Office, 1381 W Poplar Street.

Budget pains: Late payments on property taxes and trash pick-up fees have put the borough in a difficult spot financially in recent months due to the economic downturn and COVID-19.

By September, borough residents owed $284,000 in overall unpaid refuse fees, including $68,000 from this year alone.

Since then, collections have started to pick up again, Mauck said.

But borough Mayor Bruce Vick still owes $6,527 in refuse fees dating back to 2012, according to York County court records, a fact that didn't sit well with at least one borough resident at Monday's meeting.

During public comment, Jennifer Burk told the borough council there's litter and trash all along the street in her neighborhood and said it's one reason she's preparing to sell her house on West King Street.

Burk mentioned the mayor's trash bill and asked why she should have to pay her bill since the mayor hasn't paid his.

Council President Mary Wagner asked Burk not to get personal about the trash bills and the mayor.

“Well, what are we supposed to do about that situation?" Burk asked, and said she wouldn't pay her bill if the mayor wasn't going to pay his.

"We have a lot of people that owe money for refuse," Wagner said, adding that she understood where Burk was coming from with her frustration about the mayor.

Mauck said the borough has a system to collect past-due fees, including putting a lien on the property of residents who owe money so that if they sell their house and move away, the borough can collect what it's owed.

The borough filed a lien against Vick Oct. 8, 2019.

Mauck told Burk that he and the council have made progress over the past couple of years to address longstanding problems in the borough, including collections of past-due payments, but it will take time to fix the issues.

"We’re trying to reinvent everything here and build a brand new image of what the borough’s going to be," he said.

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