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OPINION

Letter: Feds should pay for mandated upgrades

Pennsylvania

The York County commissioners have requested a property tax increase for 2016 and are already putting their “feelers” out for yet another larger increase in 2017.

They cite increased health care costs, increased county control costs, increased prison costs, increased yada, yada, yada. It never ends.

These charges related to the increased county control costs, I say, are not payable by the county’s citizens. These are funds that the federal government promised to pay as a result of completing upgrades to the county control system. The failure by the federal government to reimburse the county makes it impossible for the county to pay the associated bills. The county fully intended to meet their commitment based on our understanding of the federal government’s promise to pay. It is unfortunate for the bond holders but I think they should have to sue the federal government for breach of contract and failure to pay. The citizens of York County through their proxies only agreed to the project because we were expecting reimbursement by the federal government the last thing we should have to deal with is an accelerated payback.

In the future, citizens of York County would be stupid to get in involved in any more of these 3-party contracts where we appear liable for some other entity’s payments. The only time in the future that the county would begin any project funded by another entity would be when the appropriate funds are deposited into the county treasury.

Our county commissioners should create the following legislation:

  • Prevent approval for any projects sponsored by an entity other than the county until payment has been received by the county treasury. No 3 party contracts exposing the county to any other entity’s commitment to pay shall be binding nor shall the county be held liable for the failure of any non-county entity to pay.
  • For better transparency all bonded debt should be placed on the ballot for voter approval prior to any project approval(s).
  • If any bonded debt is approved by the taxpayers and has an associated property tax increase, that increase must be reversed in it’s entirety on the initial bonded debt repayment completion date regardless of any remaining associated debt.
  • The budget year will run from March to February with the budget being completed prior to the last day of February so voters can hold their elected servants accountable prior to the primaries. Any newly elected official(s) would have the ability to re-open the budget if they campaigned on a controversial expenditure.

If our county commissioners aren’t willing to agree to what has been outlined above then we, the residents of York County, need to stop the upgrades to county control, by peaceful protest if necessary, until the money has been placed in the county treasury for any outstanding or future debt.

In the future we should avoid doing any project(s) on the county government’s credit card unless the project is deemed mission critical by some methodology not just political say-so. If we don’t have the money then it shouldn’t be done. It’s that simple.

Todd Clay

York City