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York City lowers 2017 sewer-rate increase
The planned sewer-rate increase in the 2017 York City budget will not be as large as expected.
After reviewing the approved 2017 budget, Mayor Kim Bracey’s administration identified several items that required adjustments, including the city’s sewer rate, according to York City Business Administrator Michael Doweary.
The city was awarded several grants that were larger than the city budgeted for, he said, opening up some breathing room in the budget. Officials also eliminated a budgeting error in which one city position was budgeted for by two departments, Doweary said.
The adjustments resulted in about $50,000 in extra revenue for the city. Instead of finding somewhere else to spend that money, the administration thought it best to pass the savings on to residents, Doweary said.
As a result, city residents will save a nickel on every 1,000 gallons of water they use, relative to the previously budgeted increase.
“The adjustments worked out in the favor of the residents, of the rate-payers,” Doweary said.
Instead of the 4.6 percent increase approved by the York City Council on Dec. 6, which set the rate at $9.15 per 1,000 gallons, residents will see their 2017 sewer fees rise by 4.1 percent, or $9.10 for every 1,000 gallons of water used.
The 2016 York City sewer rate was $8.65 per 1,000 gallons of water.
The budget review was part of the administration’s push to ensure the city’s Vision 2020 plan remains on track, according to a news release from the mayor’s office.
“As we work toward the future, we’re gaining certain efficiencies with a clear direction, and this adjustment is a reflection of how we’re ensuring ongoing internal quality controls,” Bracey said in the release.
Budget debates between the council and the administration centered on two issues: property taxes and sewer rates. The administration’s original budget proposal included a 2 percent property tax reduction to be offset by a 10.3 percent sewer-rate increase.
After much discussion and alternative proposals, the council approved the 2017 budget with a 2 percent property tax reduction and the 4.6 percent sewer-rate increase.
York City Councilman Henry Nixon, who proposed the approved budget compromise, said the latest reduction shows that leadership can produce results for city residents.
“This is government leadership at its best,” Nixon said. “Together, the mayor and I worked out a compromise — which was passed 4-1 by council — that reduced the sewer fee increase ... Now, through the administration’s diligence, there is an even further reduction. This is what happens when we have real leadership working together.”
York City Council President Michael Helfrich voted against the 4.6 percent sewer-rate increase, after proposing a budget that included a 1 percent property tax reduction with a 2.9 percent sewer-rate increase.
When contacted Thursday, Helfrich said the slight reduction was “great news” and thanked the administration “for the diligent work in finding the extra savings.”
To make the adjusted sewer rate official, the York City Council must introduce an ordinance Jan. 3 defining the adjustment, before ratifying the adjusted rate at its meeting Jan. 20 in York City Hall.