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City Council Meeting Minutes

December 21, 2010

 

CALL TO ORDER:City Council convened in a General Committee meeting on December 21, 2010 at 6:30 p.m. in Council Chambers, 1 Marketway West, 3rd Floor, York, PA, to receive general public comment, with the following Council members present: Renee S. Nelson, Henry Hay Nixon, Toni Smith, and Carol Hill-Evans, Vice President, with Vice President Hill-Evans presiding.

 
GENERAL PUBLIC COMMENT:

 
Joe Jackson spoke in support of White Rose Community Television (WRCT). He said he has hosted his show for 21 years and his audience has grown. Since Steve Busch, Regional Director, took over, popularity has increased. He said York City is the only municipality in York County to have a public access television station. If this facility is shut down, we'll never get the channels back. He said WRCT helps the community by providing a forum to listen to community concerns, helping the sheriff's department capture fugitives, and so much more.

 
James Wigga asked if the proposed tax increase is related to improvements being made at the Waste Water Treatment Plant. It was noted that a response given indicated it was not.

 
Frank DeBeukelaer stated that WRCT is under mandate to move out of its current office. He asked what will happen with all of the equipment? Mr. DeBeukelaer suggested funding for at least one more year to allow WRCT time to move to another location / facility. He also suggested a community effort to takeover the station to relieve the city of this burden. He said if the station is closed, it would deny citizens the opportunity to have a public access station.

 
George Shenberger said he walked to tonight's meeting and noticed there are many empty buildings, which appeared uninhabited. He questioned whether this was a result of high taxes. The said throughout the entire County of York, York City is dubbed the place to not own a business. He stated that in the long run, raising taxes will do more harm than good. He opined that people are moving out of Pennsylvania because of high taxes and even higher taxes in the city. He said any decision made tonight will probably be wrong. He asked that city officials rethink which way to go.

 
There being no further public comment, Vice President Hill-Evans adjourned the General Committee meeting and reconvened in Legislative Session at 7:00 p.m., in Council Chambers, 1 Marketway West, 3rd Floor, York, PA, with the following members present: Renee S. Nelson, Henry Hay Nixon, Toni Smith, Carol Hill-Evans, Vice President, and Genevieve H. Ray, President, with President Ray presiding.

 
Members of the Administration in attendance included: Jim Gross, Director of Public Works, Kevin Schreiber, Director of Economic Development/Interim Director of Community Development, Steve Buffington, Fire Chief, and Michael O’Rourke, Business Administrator. Also present was Assistant Solicitor Don Hoyt and Cherie Alwine, Finance Director.

 
Members of York City Council staff in attendance included: Dianna L. Thompson, City Clerk.

 
Pledge of Allegiance: The Pledge of Allegiance was recited.

 
Approval of Minutes: Council dispensed with the reading of the Minutes of December 7, 2010 and unanimously approved them as written.

 
Correspondence and Announcements: None

 
PRESENTATIONS

 
Scott Wagner, President and owner of Penn Waste, said he realizes the important role public television has played in our community and as such, he offered to pledge up to $50,000 for WRCT funding. He plans to put together a fundraising plan to raise that amount, if not more, to guarantee sustainability of public access television.

 
Council and Mayor Bracey thanked Mr. Wagner for his very generous offer.

 
COMMITTEE MEETINGS SCHEDULED

 
General Committee: Meeting held at 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday, December 21, 2010 in Council Chambers, 1 Marketway West, 3rd Floor, to discuss the 2011 proposed York City budget.

 
STATUS OF PRIOR COMMITTEE REFERRALS:No reports.

 
SUBDIVISION / LAND DEVELOPMENT / HARB

 
Resolution No. 159, Session 2010, (View) A Resolution approving the final subdivision plan submitted by Y Development Corporation to subdivide six lots into five at 130-140 S. West St., was introduced by Hill-Evans, read at length, and on motion of Hill-Evans, seconded by Nixon, Resolution No. 159 passed by the following vote: Yeas – Nelson, Hill-Evans, Nixon, Smith, Ray – 5; Nays – 0.

 
Resolution No. 160, Session 2010, (View) A Resolution accepting the recommendations of HARB in issuing a certificate of appropriateness to Hammel Associates Architects for work to be done at 381 W. Market St., was introduced by Ray, read at length, and on motion of Ray, seconded by Hill-Evans, Resolution No. 160 passed by the following vote: Yeas – Nelson, Hill-Evans, Nixon, Smith, Ray – 5; Nays – 0.

 
FINAL PASSAGE OF BILLS / RESOLUTIONS

 
Final Passage of Bill No. 34, Ordinance No. 33, Session 2010, (View) A Bill amending Article 933 “Sewer Rentals” of the Codified Ordinances to increase fees effective January 2011, which was introduced by Nixon at the November 16 meeting of Council, and read by short title, came up for final passage. On motion of Nixon, seconded by Smith, Bill No. 34 came up for discussion.

 
Business Administrator O'Rourke explained that the York City Sewer Authority has borrowed money for various sewer projects, which he briefly discussed. As a result of these required projects, the debt service has increased, therefore fees are being increased to help pay this debt as bills come due next year.

 
Steve Young, resident, asked why the gallons per month is being reduced. Administrator O'Rourke said though the gallons per month is being changed, the minimum charge remains the same. He said the reduction is only 400 gallons per month and should not tremendously affect the average consumer.

 
Ethel Ransom, resident, asked if the city treats its water with fluoride. Administrator O'Rourke said the York Water Company supplies water for the city and they do not treat the water with fluoride.

 
There being no further discussion, Bill No. 34, Ordinance No. 33, passed by the following vote: Yeas – Nelson, Hill-Evans, Nixon, Smith, Ray – 5; Nays – 0.

 
Final Passage of Bill No. 35, Ordinance No. 36, Session 2010,(View) A Bill approving the 2011 York City Budget ($40,684,793.00), which was introduced by Nixon at the November 16 meeting of Council and read by short title, came up for final passage. On motion of Nixon, seconded by Smith, Bill No. 35 came up for discussion.

 
Motion to amend. A motion was made by Ray, seconded by Hill-Evans, to introduce a Resolution amending the 2011 proposed Budget to increase various line items for the Human Relations Commission. The motion to introduce said Resolution passed unanimously. Therefore, Resolution No. 161 was introduced as follows:

 
Resolution No. 161, Session 2010, (View)(View Final Amendment)(Summary) A Resolution amending Bill No. 35 of Session 2010 amending the 2011 Proposed York City Budget to increase various line items, was introduced by Ray, read at length, and on motion of Ray, seconded by Hill-Evans, Resolution No. 161 came up for discussion.

 
President Ray outlined the proposed increases for the Human Relations Commission totaling $11,000. She said the HRC is unusual in that specific language in the law stipulates that although the HRC is a public entity, they are able to seek private donations. She encouraged Director Seaton and members of the Commission to pursue additional funding.

 
Director Seaton thanked Council in their effort to increase the HRC's General Fund contribution by $11,000. She said although it was a valiant effort, the current funds will not allow them to be operational. Director Seaton stated that she is grateful the County Commissioners have offered an office space to the HRC but they need at least five offices to be compliant. She also said there is little to no money allocated for telephone use, general offices supplies, internet services, or other basic office functions they need to be operational. So at this point, she said she doesn't feel the $11,000 is adequate to allow the office to function properly. Director Seaton stated that the HRC will continue to seek additional funding to support the mission and goals of the commission.

 
Vice President Hill-Evans encouraged the HRC to seek additional funding. She said it was shown this evening that generous contributors are out there and we just have to find them. She said if the HRC failed to exist and residents need this service, it creates a hole.

 
Councilwoman Smith said it may be time to consider a countywide Human Relations Commission. She said Lancaster has totally done away with the HRC and she doesn't want to see that happen to our residents.

 
Ken Worthwein, York County Against Racism, said they have already presented a detailed proposal to the County Commissioners regarding a countywide Human Relations Commission so the wheels are already in motion.

 
Mayor Bracey thanked Council and the York County Commissioners for their support of the Human Relations Commission. She said it was a very difficult position the Administration had to take in an effort to reduce the tax burden. She said it is incumbent upon the Human Relations Commissioners to raise funds for the commission and that the Administration will continue to work with them in this effort.

 
There being no further discussion, Resolution No. 161 passed by the following vote: Yeas – Nelson, Hill-Evans, Nixon, Smith, Ray – 5; Nays – 0.

 
Motion to amend. A motion was made by Ray, seconded by Hill-Evans, to introduce a Resolution amending the 2011 proposed Budget to decrease various line items. The motion to introduce said Resolution passed unanimously. Therefore, Resolution No. 162 was introduced as follows:

 
Resolution No. 162, Session 2010, (View)(View Final Amendment)(Summary) A Resolution amending Bill No. 35 of Session 2010 amending the 2011 Proposed York City Budget to decrease various line items, was introduced by Ray, read at length, and on motion of Ray, seconded by Hill-Evans, Resolution No. 162 came up for discussion.

 
President Ray stated this Resolution is being offered in an effort to support the Mayor's proposed reductions to reduce the current 12.8% tax burden to our residents. Based on the additional recommendations made by Council, the cuts now total $245,514.

 
President Ray then detailed each line item recommended for reduction. After a lengthy discussion on each line item, Council and Mayor Bracey made further amendments to retain certain funding within the departments of Economic Development, Fire/Rescue, and White Rose Community Television (WRCT). After recalculating the totals, the reductions now total $225,514.

 
Administrator O'Rourke provided new math on the General Fund figures presented if the Budget is reduced by $224,514. With this reduction, he said the savings for homeowners owning homes between $50,000 - $150,000 would result in approximately a $5 - $13 savings in taxes.

 
Vice President Hill-Evans apologized if it appeared she wasn't addressing the budget as thoroughly as in previous years, however, she said she and other members of Council made a good faith effort to lessen the tax burden. She stated that we are doing our best given the circumstances and she thanked all who participated in this endeavor.

 
Councilwoman Smith said she received many phone calls from residents pleading to keep police officers and WRCT in the budget. She said of those phone calls, no one complained about the tax increase though she's sure concerns exist. She thanked President Ray for working so hard to put together a reduction plan but feels the effort fell short as the recommendations being made didn't result in a significant difference.

 
There being no further discussion, Resolution No. 162 passed by the following vote: Nelson, Hill-Evans, Nixon, Smith, Ray – 5; Nays – 0.

 
A motion was made by Nixon, seconded by Nelson, to approve Bill No. 35 as amended by Resolution No. 161 and 162. The motion came up for discussion.

 
Motion to amend. Administrator O'Rourke stated that as a result of the recommendations made in Resolution No. 162, Bill No. 35 will need an additional amendment to the Treasurer's budget. He provided recommended language. Therefore, a motion was made by Nelson, seconded by Ray, to further amend Bill No. 35 to add the following language:

 
Section 19.1: Adopting Resolution No. 162 of Session 2010 reducing line item 10-130-30010-00000 by $225,514, as more fully detailed in the Exhibit titled “Potential 2011 Budget Cuts,” as attached hereto and made a part hereof.

 
The motion to amend passed by the following vote: Yeas – Nelson, Hill-Evans, Nixon, Smith, Ray – 5; Nays – 0.

 
There being no further discussion, Bill No. 35, as amended, passed by the following vote: Yeas – Nelson, Hill-Evans, Nixon, Smith, Ray – 5; Nays – 0.

 
Request for Special Session. Administrator O'Rourke then noted that an appropriations ordinance to reflect the amended figures must be considered. After discussion, Council scheduled two special meetings. One meeting will be to introduce the appropriations bill and the second will be to consider final passage. Therefore, Council will introduce the appropriations legislation in Special Session on Monday, December 27, 2010 at 9:00 a.m. and will consider final passage in Special Session on Thursday, December 30, 2010 at 9:00 a.m. Both meetings to be held in Council Chambers, 1 Marketway West, 3rd Floor, York, PA.

 
Final Passage of Bill No. 36, Ordinance No. 35, Session 2010, (View) A Bill fixing the tax rate for 2011, which was introduced by Nixon at the November 16 meeting of Council and read by short title, came up for final passage. On motion of Nixon, seconded by Smith, Bill No. 35 came up for discussion.

 
Administrator O'Rourke urged Council to accept the surplus but not reduce the tax rate. He explained that in order to have a balanced budget, our tax burden should actually be doubled to cover the RACP grant. He said if we reduce the tax rate, then we'll actually be taking in less money than we actually need to keep the future deficit down.

 
Councilwoman Nelson said her interest was to lower the tax burden so she supports lowering the tax rate.

 
Councilman Nixon stated that he has concerns about lowering the tax rate as this places us on a fast train to financial collapse. We will have to make these cuts up next year and will end up with an even higher tax increase. He said we discussed line-by-line the recommended reductions and only came up with $225,514. Councilman Nixon stated that we need to go after the big money because it has been proven by this small amount that we've already cut down to the bone. Therefore, he said he is against lowering the tax rate.

 
Councilwoman Smith said the big money is in the Police and Fire budgets, however, residents want to retain these valuable services. She said the savings to homeowners with these recommended cuts are so insignificant, she doesn't feel it's worth the risk of higher taxes next year. Councilwoman Smith said she too is against lowering the tax rate.

 
President Ray stated that she has done most of the line-by-line work and feels she owes no apologies for doing her due diligence. She said every year we are on the brink of disaster and this budget is a direct result of irresponsible budgeting by prior Council's and Administration.

 
Administrator O'Rourke provided new figures on the tax rate, which will reduce the millage rate from 14.115 mils to 13.864 mils resulting in a decrease for all purposes being reduced from $17.64 on each one thousand dollars of assessed valuation to $17.39.

 
Motion to amend. After a brief discussion by Council, the majority opted to reduce the tax burden. Therefore, a motion was made by Ray, seconded by Hill-Evans to amend Bill No. 36 to reduce the millage rate from 14.115 mils to 13.864 mils resulting in a decrease for all purposes being reduced from $17.64 on each one thousand dollars of assessed valuation to $17.39. The motion to amend passed by the following vote: Yeas – Nelson, Hill-Evans, Ray – 3; Nays – Nixon, Smith – 2.

 
There being no further discussion, Bill No. 36, Ordinance No. 35, as amended, passed by the following vote: Yeas – Nelson, Hill-Evans, Ray – 3; Nays – Nixon, Smith – 2.

 
Final Passage of Bill No. 38, Ordinance No. 36, Session 2010, (View) A Resolution approving the 2011-2015 York Business Improvement District Authority Plan, which was introduced by Ray at the December 7 meeting of Council and read by short title, came up for final passage. On motion of Ray, seconded by Nelson, Bill No. 38 came up for discussion.

 
Sonia Huntzinger, Director, Downtown Inc (YBIDA), thanked Council and the Administration for supporting the mission and goals of Downtown Inc.

 
Steve Young, resident, asked that the letters of opposition be read into the record. He said he doesn't feel Downtown Inc. is effective as businesses are relocating outside of the city limits.

 
President Ray announced that of all property owners in the BID area, only two letters were received in opposition of the BID plan.

 
There being no further discussion, Bill No. 38, Ordinance No. 36, passed by the following vote: Yeas – Nelson, Hill-Evans, Nixon, Smith, Ray – 5; Nays – 0.

 
Final Passage of Resolution No. 154, Session 2010,(View) A Resolution amending fees for the Dept. of Fire/Rescue Services for Fire Alarm Connection, False Alarm, & Standby fees, which was introduced by Nelson at the December 7 meeting of Council and read at length, came up for final passage. On motion of Nelson, seconded by Nixon, Resolution No. 154 passed by the following vote: Yeas – Nelson, Hill-Evans, Nixon, Smith, Ray – 5; Nays – 0.

 
Final Passage of Resolution No. 155, Session 2010, (View) A Resolution amending fees associated with Article 1501 "Standard Adopted" of the Fire Prevention Code, which was introduced by Nelson at the December 7 meeting of Council and read at length, came up for final passage. On motion of Nelson, seconded by Nixon, Resolution No. 155 passed by the following vote: Yeas – Nelson, Hill-Evans, Nixon, Smith, Ray – 5; Nays – 0.

 
NEW BUSINESS

 
Resolution No. 163, Session 2010, (View) A Resolution establishing the first Regular Meeting date of City Council for 2011 to be held January 4, 2011 at 7:00 p.m. (public comment commences at 6:30 p.m.) in Council Chambers, 1 Marketway West, 3rd Floor, York, PA, was introduced by Ray, read at length, and on motion of Ray, seconded by Smith, Resolution No. 163 passed by the following vote: Yeas – Nelson, Hill-Evans, Nixon, Smith, Ray – 5; Nays – 0.

 
Resolution No. 164, Session 2010, (View) A Resolution reappointing Dave Redshaw as a regular member of HARB, and Craig Zumbrun and John Fox as alternate members of HARB, which terms shall expire the first Monday of January 2016, was introduced by Smith, read at length, and on motion of Smith, seconded by Nixon, Resolution No. 164 passed by the following vote: Yeas – Nelson, Hill-Evans, Nixon, Smith, Ray – 5; Nays – 0.

 
Resolution No. 165, Session 2010, (View) A Resolution appointing Jessica Fieldhouse to the Board of Health, which term shall expire the first Monday of April 2012, and Patricia Kehr to the Fire Civil Service Commission, which term shall expire November 5, 2014, was introduced by Smith, read at length, and on motion of Smith, seconded by Nelson, Resolution No. 165 came up for discussion.

 
Mayor Bracey said she has not had an opportunity to review or discuss Mrs. Fieldhouse's appointment to the Board of Health and therefore asked that her appointment be removed at this time.

 
Motion to amend. A motion was made by Hill-Evans, seconded by Nixon, to amend Resolution No. 165 to remove the appointment of Jessica Fieldhouse. The motion to amend passed by the following vote: Yeas – Nelson, Hill-Evans, Nixon, Smith, Ray – 5; Nays – 0.

 
There being no further discussion, Resolution No. 165, as amended, passed by the following vote: Yeas – Nelson, Hill-Evans, Nixon, Smith, Ray – 5; Nays – 0.

 
REQUESTS FOR FUTURE MEETINGS

 
Special Session. Council will convene in Special Session on Monday, December 27, 2010 at 9:00 a.m. to introduce an appropriations bill related to the amended 2011 York City Budget. Council will also meet in Special Session on Thursday, December 30, 2010 at 9:00 a.m. to consider final passage of said bill. Both meetings to be held in City Council Chambers, 1 Marketway West, 3rd Floor, York, PA.

 
COUNCIL COMMENT: None
 
ADMINISTRATION COMMENT: None

 
NEXT MEETING: The next regular meeting of City Council is scheduled for January 4, 2011 at
7:00 p.m. (Public Comment commences at 6:30 p.m.) in City Council Chambers, 1 Marketway West, 3rd Floor, York, PA.

 
ADJOURNMENT:There being no further business, the December 21, 2010 meeting of Council adjourned at 10:25 p.m.