York City will have a new police commissioner and another strained budget

Logan Hullinger
York Dispatch
Osborne Robinson III gives York City Council a bit of his background before the council unanimously voted to confirm Robinson as police commissioner, Tuesday, December 17, 2019. Robinson will take over the police department January 11 when current Chief Troy Bankert retires. 
John A. Pavoncello photo

The York City Council on Tuesday unanimously voted to name a new police commissioner as well as approve its 2020 budget.

The City Council approved both resolutions during its Tuesday, Dec. 17, legislative meeting. Osborne "Moe" Robinson III will replace York City Police Chief Troy Bankert on Jan 11. Bankert is retiring the day before to be with his family in Florida.

"(I'm looking forward to) building a team and, more importantly, a team that serves the city well in terms of its efficiency and meeting the objectives the city's residents and businesses really want, which is public spaces that are safe," Robinson said.

More:Reading deputy chief to succeed Bankert in York City

More:'To the bone': York City's 2020 draft budget calls for plenty of cuts

The police commissioner position pays $115,000 annually. It was never advertised. The city instead relied on a recommendation from Bankert, which he pulled from an existing candidate pool.

Robinson, the former deputy chief of the Reading Police Department, has been shadowing Bankert since October as a police administrative adviser. The experience has made for a smooth transition, he said.

The incoming commissioner said he intends to implement an organizational management system known as "Comp Stat" once he takes over, something the department doesn't currently have.

Comp Stat, created by the New York Police Department, uses a data-driven approach to identify spikes in crime and create targeted enforcement. 

City Council members enthusiastically welcomed Robinson on board before praising Bankert's leadership of the department.

But Robinson's appointment ran headlong into York City's financial struggles.

Also on Tuesday, the City Council approved a $110.5 million budget amid a struggle to grapple with rising pension costs.

In 2020 alone, police pension costs are expected to rise by nearly $420,000, bringing the city's annual obligation to just over $6 million. 

"We keep pulling a rabbit out of the hat," said City Council President Henry Nixon. "Every year, we're worried where's the money coming from not to raise taxes."

The 2020 budget pulls $6 million from reserves to cover pension and health care costs without raising taxes. The city also cut roughly $3.8 million in spending across 14 of its 29 departments.

Nixon couldn't say how much longer the city could afford to continue buying down its tax rate with reserve funds.

— Logan Hullinger can be reached at lhullinger@yorkdispatch.com or via Twitter at @LoganHullYD.