York City Council releases plan for disputed COVID-19 recovery money

Matt Enright
York Dispatch

York City Council released a plan Tuesday for the use of American Rescue Plan Act funding in the wake of last year's public dispute with Mayor Michael Helfrich.

Last year, the former council voted to strip more than $6 million in ARPA funding from Helfrich's budget, setting off a chain of events in which the mayor vetoed the budget only to have the council override that veto.

The council's plan — released in advance of Tuesday night's council meeting — prioritizes infrastructure needs, public safety and revenue replacement.

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"ARPA funding will help families get back on their feet, repair infrastructure, improve public safety, support local businesses, and so much more — the possibilities are enormous," Council President Sandie Walker said in a written statement.

Walker said in the release the recommendations were based on input from other council members, city staff and the public.

York City Council President Henry Nixon, right, looks on as Vice President Sandie Walker speaks during a York City Council town hall meeting at Logos Academy in York City, Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2018. Dawn J. Sagert photo

Earlier on Tuesday, the council publicly raised questions about whether Helfrich took his oath of office too late to qualify as mayor, an indication of ongoing tension between the officials.

The city has $35.3 million in ARPA funding over two years. That money must be allocated by Dec. 31, 2024 and spent by Dec. 31, 2026.

Some highlights from the plan:

  • Approximately $9 million to city services and infrastructure, including $2,750,000 towards renovating the City Hall roof, $750,000 towards renovating the Laurel-Rex Fire House and $750,000 towards renovating Penn Market.
  • $3,500,000 towards the Codorus Creek Improvement Project, which includes the Codorus Greenway.
  • $200,000 towards healthcare, including the purchase of COVID-19 testing and vaccinations and substance abuse services.
  • $4 million towards real estate tax reduction and a homeowner relief initiative. That includes assisting homeowners in preventing mortgage delinquencies, defaults or foreclosures and loss of utility and home energy services.
  • $250,000 towards an ARPA Grant Manager/Administrator and Mediation Services. "This is a professional position working independently and with an interdepartmental team to perform community engagement, planning, design, contract/grant administration, reporting, and other project management tasks," the plan reads.

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

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