What will 2022 have in store for York City? Officials weigh in
As the calendar turns to 2022, York City Council is going through some changes.
With President Henry Nixon and Judy Ritter-Dickson leaving, a new president will need to be sworn in at Tuesday's meeting. The turnover follows the second year of turmoil over the city's budget.
For now, the most likely candidate appears to be current Vice President Sandie Walker, who was elected to the body in 2015 and has a background in retail and community service.
"As long as council will have me be president, I'm looking forward to filling that position," Walker said Monday.
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Going forward into 2022, Walker said one of her major priorities is the decision on what to do with the American Rescue Plan Act funding. The council deferred a longer discussion on the subject when it overrode Mayor Michael Helfrich's veto of the 2022 budget last week, stripping much of the use of federal dollars from his proposal.
"We have to get a strategic plan for ARPA. Council will need to present that to the mayor and the administration," Walker said. "The hope is that we all can work together toward accomplishing the goals to make sure that this funding is spent effectively and efficiently, and so that is the priority right now."
Walker said the city should look at projects that need assistance, like renovating Penn Market and other buildings the city owns.
"If we don't have to burden taxpayers in the future and we can use some ARPA funding towards those projects, then we definitely need to look at that," she said.
Incoming council member Betsy Buckingham said Monday that she's looking forward to getting to know her fellow council members and working to strategically prioritize their goals.
"I have a lot of respect for their experience and the value that they bring to the table," she said of the three veteran council members: Walker, Edquina Washington and Lou Rivera.
Buckingham said she wants to support the work of Police Commissioner Michael Muldrow, to improve neighborhood safety and to increase access to affordable housing.
"I think that we need to be strategic and focus on projects that would have direct taxpayer implication in the future and programs that would benefit York City residents that are impactful and evidenced as sustainable," she said.
Buckingham declined to say if she would support Walker for council president, but said she had a lot of respect for her and her work.
Helfrich said Monday his priorities include completing the wastewater treatment plant sale and addressing social issues that are the root of much of the city's problems.
"We'll continue to apply to grants through the federal government to make sure the city gets its fair share of this unprecedented influx of resources that's coming from the administration and Congress in Washington, D.C.," he said.
Helfrich praised Buckingham and Dennis, saying they were great individuals who have a passion for the city of York.
Washington and Rivera and incoming council member Felicia Dennis did not respond to requests for comment.
Tuesday's meeting will reorganize the City Council. It is available through Zoom as City Hall is currently closed to the public.
To watch the meeting through Zoom, follow this link: https://zoom.us/j/91462846649?pwd=bWR4R0lVM2Fpd3NoQVhUc3ZvSTRxZz09. The password for the meeting is 54321. Another way to participate is by calling 312-626-6799 and giving the passcode, which is also 54321.
To provide a comment to the council, email the city clerk at firstname.lastname@example.org. Those comments must be received by 4 p.m. Tuesday.
Matt Enright can be reached via email at email@example.com or via Twitter at @Matthew_Enright.