York City draft 2019 budget $4 million higher than 2018

Rebecca Klar
York Dispatch

York City's total estimated 2019 draft budget is about $108 million, about $4 million more than 2018's adjusted budget, according to a copy of the draft.

York City Mayor Michael Helfrich began his first budget hearing process in mayoral control during a public hearing on Tuesday, Nov. 13. A second public hearing will be held at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 14, in City Hall, 101 S. George St. 

Mayor Michael Helfrich and members of the budget team discuss a draft 2019 city budget at the first of two public hearings on Tuesday, Nov. 13.  (Photo by Rebecca Klar)

The estimated total will likely change and will be further discussed at Wednesday's hearing, Helfrich said. 

On Tuesday, Helfrich and the budget team heard from the City Council as well as other elected officials and city department heads.

On Wednesday, Helfrich and the budget team will hear from the Fire and Rescue Department, Police Department and business administration. 

More:Two public hearings to be held ahead of York City budget adoption

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During Tuesday's meeting, Helfrich said the budget copy provided did not accurately reflect the most recent draft in regards to the Economic and Community Development Department. Shilvosky Buffaloe, the department's acting director, will return on Wednesday to review the department's budget. 

Many department heads on Tuesday noted their budget requests were much the same as the previous year. 

The City Council budget is about $15,000 more than last year's budget. The bulk of the increase comes from increased insurance costs. 

Rising health care costs are an issue throughout the budget and will be further discussed on Wednesday, Helfrich said. 

City Treasurer Joe Jefcoat noted that the 2018 projected year-end real estate tax revenue was more than $15 million, although the 2019 budget request is about the same as 2018 adjusted budget of more than $13 million. 

Jefcoat said the discrepancy is due to budget calculations that the city will receive 89 percent of the tax revenue it is owed, but the city has regularly been collecting closer to 95 percent of the real estate tax revenue. 

Councilman Michael Buckingham asked why 92 percent is not used for the calculations.

Helfrich said that is being reviewed and will be looked at as the budget process continues.

Helfrich also said that in order for the city to not increase refuse fees for residents, the public has to be more aware and apt to separate out recyclable materials. 

"The cost of getting rid of your trash has gone up dramatically, and the only way to offset any of that cost is to recycle properly," Helfrich said. "Just think about it, if you had to weight your trash and pay by the pound, would you pull out that glass bottle? Would you pull out that newspaper?"

He said there is no logical reason to keep refuse prices down, but hopefully by the end of the 2019 budget process those prices will not increase for residents. 

The budget team will also go back over the Human Relations Commission budget to allocate funds for renting office space. 

Commission chair Karen Rollins-Fitch pointed out that in the already "below bare bones budget," the commission did not receive any funds for rent. 

Rollins-Fitch said she's in talks with the York Jewish Community Center to rent space in a building the JCC will jointly operate on Cherry Lane. While there will likely be no rent, the agreement would include the commission paying funds toward utilities. 

Helfrich said the plan is to create a community resource center on Cherry Lane involving the JCC, the Human Relations Commission and other entities to create a "one stop shop" to help people that are facing discrimination." 

Acting business administrator Tommy Williams said Rollins-Fitch should keep the budget team updated when she finds out how much will be needed for the JCC agreement. 

The commission moved to a building owned by West York borough in March 2017 after being asked to leave an office it borrowed for seven years from York County. 

There is currently no space in City Hall to accommodate the Human Relations Commission, said city spokesman Philip Given.