York City still has no plan for federal COVID aid

Matt Enright
York Dispatch

York City still doesn't have a plan for $6.4 million in federal COVID aid that was hotly debated between City Council and Mayor Michael Helfrich last year.

But they're working on it — at least according to Council President Sandie Walker.

"We are working individually to try to work with the administration to make sure that we have a plan to present to the public over the next couple of weeks," Walker said, at a council meeting late Tuesday night.

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York City Council members, from left, H. Michael Buckingham and Vice President Sandie Walker during a York City Council Town Hall Meeting at Logos Academy in York City, Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2018. Dawn J. Sagert photo

Initially, Mayor Michael Helfrich's 2022 budget would've allocated funding to a variety of programs and non-profits designed to address violence, homelessness and economic development. The ARPA money, which totaled $35 million spread across several years, must be spent by Dec. 31, 2024.

That included funding for so-called "credible messengers," individuals who have been in the criminal justice system and are looking to intervene with young people to help them avoid making the same mistakes.

More:Government shutdown averted as York City Council approves budget

City Council rejected Helfrich's plan for the money, prompting a mayoral veto that they ultimately overrode with a super-majority. It marked the second year in a row that the budget came down to the wire. Since then, Helfrich — who's been on vacation — hasn't attended the relatively brief council meetings. He did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday.

York City Mayor Michael Helfrich speaks during a Community Violence Awareness Event at Lincoln Charter School Monday, Dec. 6, 2021. The event was sponsored by York City Police, the City of York, and The Movement. Bill Kalina photo

On Tuesday, Walker said that council doesn't want to serve as administrator for the ARPA funding. Nonetheless, she has sought more input on how it's being spent.

"The ARPA funds are a once-in-a-generation injection of capital into all levels of government to respond to the COVID-19 emergency and its impacts," she said.

More:York City approves 2022 budget — without disputed federal funding

Reach Matt Enright via email at menright@yorkdispatch.com or via Twitter at @Matthew_Enright.