York City Council agenda: ice arena deal, county human relations commission

Logan Hullinger
York Dispatch
York City Council members, from left, President Henry Nixon, Judy Ritter-Dixon and Edquina Washington participate in a York City Council town hall meeting at Logos Academy in York City, Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2018. Dawn J. Sagert photo

The York City Council has a busy agenda Tuesday, which includes potentially inking a deal with a new manager for the struggling ice arena and supporting the formation of a countywide human relations commission.

While details about the potential county human relations commission were scarce Monday, city solicitor Jason Sabol said the 10-year management contract at the ice arena with Maryland-based Black Bear Sports Group could provide relief to the city, which has watched the facility hemorrhage funds for years.

"It’s going to save the city a ton of money," Sabol said. "All of (the other bidders) wanted to be paid to manage the facility. It's significantly better than anything we’ve ever had in place or anything any of the bidders put in."

More:York City nears deal with firm to run troubled ice arena

More:Coronavirus pandemic: Here's what York County's data looks like

Ice arena: Unlike the current manager, the York Revolution, Black Bear would pay the city monthly to manage the facility and cover all utility costs and capital improvement costs under the proposed deal, Sabol said.

For the first year, the company, which specializes in bringing struggling rinks back to life, would pay the city $60,000. It would then pay $70,000 for the second year and $75,000 for the third year.

For each year thereafter, Black Bear increase its annual payments to the city by 3%. 

That 3% annual increase would continue annually if Black Bear and the city decided to renew the 10-year contract, which can be extended two times — meaning the company could potentially manage the facility for three decades.

The contract states the management firm "shall undertake reasonable efforts" to allow the public to use the arena for skating sessions.

Historically, the city has struggled to turn any profit at all. In fact, under York Revolution management, the ice arena was in the hole $114,000 as of Oct. 31, 2019, according to the latest financial information available.

York Ice Arena in York City, Friday, June 26, 2020. Dawn J. Sagert photo

Human relations commission: Also on the City Council's agenda is a resolution to support working along with York County to create a countywide human relations commission.

While the city already has its own commission, council member Lou Rivera said that given ongoing racial unrest, a county-level commission would complement the county's creation of a new position within its human relations department, chief opportunity officer.

In conjunction with the county administration's new position, the York County Planning Commission also intends to establish a community planner position dedicated to diversity, equity and inclusion, officials have said.

"As we move our community forward with everything that's happening in the country and world right now, if we're intentional about diversity, equity and inclusion, this is the next step in moving our country that way," Rivera said.

However, this early in the process, it's unclear how much power a new commission would have.

The state Human Relations Commission, for example, lacks much in the way of significant regulatory authority.

County spokesperson Mark Walters said more information would be needed before county commissioners would back the idea.

"We need more information to inform any decision, such as the success and challenges of HRC’s, budget, legal authority, and how to ensure it is sustainable," Walters said.

Emergency declaration: In addition, the York City Council on Tuesday is expected to vote to extend the city's COVID-19 emergency declaration through Aug. 31.

Although the move is mostly symbolic, officials have said the declaration puts the city in a better position to receive state and federal aid as it navigates the pandemic.

The pandemic has already taken a toll on the community, as the city has estimated millions of dollars in lost tax revenue.

As of noon Monday, there were 2,006 COVID-19 cases in York County and 72 deaths linked to the disease.

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