York County begins budget process, with an old hand on deck

Matt Enright
York Dispatch

There's still a lot of questions to be answered about the upcoming York County fiscal budget.

That includes salaries, wages and, of course, any potential tax hikes. Last year, York County officials handed down homeowners' first countywide tax hike since 2017 amid increasing staffing costs.

The county is preparing to submit its budget to the Board of Commissioners before the end of the year.

Tyler Chronister, the county's chief financial officer, said all of the county's departments have submitted budget proposals to the county. The budget team is now reviewing what was submitted in preparation for submitting a budget to the commissioners.

"We're going through line by line looking at each item they entered," he said. "I expect that to wrap up closer to the end of October."

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At that time, a general budget will be introduced to the commissioners before a public presentation at the Nov. 16 meeting. It then must sit for 30 days before its possible approval in December. Of the two meetings scheduled for December, the only one that would qualify is the Dec. 21 meeting.

Chronister said that he did not anticipate another tax increase from the upcoming budget. The 2022 fiscal year budget of $668 million introduced a 1-mill increase — for a millage rate of 6.9 — meaning that the average York County homeowner with a property assessment of $135,105 would pay a $932.23 tax bill.

The fact that the salaries, wages and benefits aren't loaded into the budget could mean a higher-than-expected budget. Chronister said the current outlook is still a bit hazy.

"Ask that again in two weeks, we'll be able to give a better answer," he said.

In front, from left, PA State Rep. Mike Jones, York County President Commissioner Julie Wheeler and Vice President Commissioner Doug Hoke join community members during a Flag Day Celebration at Veterans Memorial Gold Star Healing and Peace Garden in York City, Tuesday, June 14, 2022. Dawn J. Sagert photo

In addition to Chronister, the county retained former chief clerk and county administrator Mark Derr on a contract to provide consulting services to the county. According to the contract approved by the commissioners, that includes review of departmental budgets, various operating and capital fund budgets, the projection and allocation of budget costs and other budget related work as requested from Sept. 19 to Dec. 31.

The contract, obtained by a Right to Know request, is for $180 an hour not to exceed 400 hours. That would be a total of $72,000, though Chronister said it was unlikely that Derr will be required for the full length of the contract.

"He's been our resident expert for a long time," Chronister said, explaining Derr's hiring. This is the first budget he's overseen as chief financial officer after previously being employed by the county as deputy controller.

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Chief Clerk Gregory Monskie, who took over after Derr retired in July, said the county is a large organization with a lot of moving parts.

"It takes a while to get a sense of how everything works together, how all the pieces come together," Monskie said. "It's certainly interesting, a lot to take in."

The York County Board of Commissioners meets on the first, third and fifth Wednesdays of each month. Their next meeting is scheduled for Oct. 19 at the Commissioners Meeting Room on the 2nd floor of the York County Administrative Center, 28 E. Market St., York.

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