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City Council Meeting Minutes

December 31, 2011

 

CALL TO ORDER: City Council continued its Thursday, December 29, 2011 meeting on Saturday, December 31, 2011 at 10:19 a.m. in Council Chambers, 1 Marketway West, 3rd Floor, York, PA, with the following Council 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: No members present.
 
Members of York City Council Staff in attendance included: Dianna L. Thompson, City Clerk
 
President Ray said is surprised and disappointed that no one from the Administration is here to share in this budget presentation. In any case, she stated that Council is up to the task of considering this budget today.
 
Vice President Hill-Evans said for the past several days Council and members of the Mayor's budget team were visiting each line item of the 2012 budget including cost of living allowances, library funding, part-time employees, economic development costs, and loss of public safety positions through attrition. She said in some line items funding was cut, while other line items funding was reduced. Vice President Hill-Evans explained that when it was all said and done, we were able to come up with enough cuts to take our $1.8 million original gap down to about $1.1 million, which would result in a 17% tax increase. She said she is pleased there were some negotiations but is saddened that we couldn't offer more relief to our residents.
 
Mark Werner, Colony Park Homeowners Association, said we want to maintain yet cut services but we can't have it both ways. He said this 17% tax increase is killing the residents and we are moving out of the city in droves and by not making more cuts in fire and police departments and putting this burden on homeowners is a terrible mistake. Mr. Werner stated that you may have a full compliment of fire and police but you won't have a city because residents won't be here.
 
Franklin Williams, city resident, said he believes we are here because there is a shortage of understanding. He said you can't ask for services and then not expect fees or taxes to increase.  
 
Candace Robinson, non-city resident, said she has family that resides in York and although the tax increase is a hard pill to swallow, she thanked Council and the Mayor for their hard work on the budget and asked Council to support it.
 
Dan Hevner, city resident, thanked Council for working hard on the budget and said it is disturbing that the Administration has no problem raising our tax burden yet they don't even have the patience and decency to come to present it themselves. Mr. Hevner stated that they have no problem asking us for more money but they can't bother to be here on a Saturday morning to present their recommendations.
 
Michael Helfrich, city resident, read a prepared statement written by Jay L. Andrzejczyk who was unable to attend today's meeting. The statement, in part, was as follows:


“...Know right now, that the 2013 budget will begin with a $500M deficit from the debt service alone on that which you will be paying interest only on in 2012. Call on the business community, we can and will do everything in our power to help you reinvent York City Government in a way that benefits our community, the tax payers, and the government – it can be done.”
 
“Do not go into the process blinded by fanciful tales of mysterious savings that will solve all of your problems. The same office of Business Administration, who budgeted $800M from acquiring the assets of the General Authority, is the same office that runs the General Authority budget today, and on December 28th gave them the numbers that allowed them to see they couldn’t afford to give this council a penny towards deficit reduction. Had this council made the grave mistake of acquiring the assets of the Authority – you would have saddled the people of York with an additional $600M per anum in debt service over the next 30 years, and the system would have gone into decay for lack of prudent reserve for capital improvements. That office that offered the refinance of the Skate Rink that would have cost the taxpayers an additional $3.6MM. There can be no confidence put in that office or what they offer as solutions to budget problems. If the administration is unwilling to look at actual facts in the budget process then it is incumbent upon the incoming council to do so. Get your own water – now.”
 
                                                                                    Submitted by:  Jay L. Andrzejczyk
                                                                                                            York City Resident
                                                                                                            (Read full satement)
 
Rebecca Moore, city resident, asked Council to support this budget but felt there could have been deeper cuts. She said decisions are being made by the administration that they feel will be for the greater good of the city and that this increase will hurt a lot of people but we need to look deeper and correct these problems.
 
Melanie Greer, city resident, said not one person in the entire administration offered to take one penny less in their salaries to help the city, except for the Council.
 
Manuel Gomez, city resident, stated that he is disappointed in this budget. He asked Council to vote against this budget. Mr. Gomez said he heard that if the budget isn't passed, the city would shut down and that it appears that fear was placed in residents' hearts in order to move discussions along. He said we have to believe in change and take the time to make those changes. Mr. Gomez stated that the Administration didn't even have the common courtesy to be here today. He urged Council to make deeper cuts, including fire and police.
 
Joanne Borders, city resident, defended the Mayor and the Administration because she said it is Council's responsibility to present the budget. She said the Administration has worked with Council to balance this budget and Council is suppose to work more diligently to make our finances better.
 
Dave Moser, city resident, urged Council to not pass this budget. He said he doesn't see Mayor Bracey or anyone from the Administration here today, which is disturbing. Mr. Moser said it makes him feel they don't have a vested interest in its residents. He stated that Council has been fighting to give its residents a little breathing room and he commended Council for doing that.
 
Councilwoman Smith said it's the Council President's job to request the Administration be here so she opined that if they were not invited, then what do you expect.
 
Vice President Hill-Evans reiterated that she is disturbed that we have to ask our residents for more money. She said she feels we definitely need to start this budget process earlier in the year and get the public more involved. She asked the public to continue to share their thoughts, suggestions and ideas but to be aware that things are not always what they appear to be. Although she said she does not feel this is a responsible budget, she said she feels passing it would be the responsible thing to do. If we don't pass the budget, she said our city would shut down and that would create an even bigger burden to our residents.
 
Councilwoman Nelson said she was hoping this budget would not come late like it did last year but unfortunately it did. She thanked President Ray and Vice President Hill-Evans for hammering hard at line items and she also thanked Vice President Hill-Evans and Councilman Nixon for meeting with the Administration. She said although layoffs are horrible, without laying off positions, our residents will now suffer with a 17% tax increase.
 
President Ray said we were told by a bank that they would not float bonds for us because of the city's unwillingness to deal with its financial crisis. We don't want Act 47, she said, but if this is an example of how finances are going to be handled, we are going to find ourselves in Act 47 status. She said her last vote on Council will be made with conscience.
 
President Ray then moved to act on agenda items.
 
Final Passage of Bill No. 41, Ordinance No. 44, Session 2011, (View) A Bill amending Article 933 “Sewer Rentals” of the Codified Ordinances to increase fees, which was introduced by Nixon at the November 15 meeting of Council and read by short title, came up for final passage. On motion of Nixon, seconded by Nelson, Bill No. 41, Ordinance No. 44, passed by the following vote: Yeas – Nelson, Hill-Evans, Nixon, Smith – 4; Nays – Ray – 1.
 
 
Final Passage of Bill No. 42, Ordinance No. 45, Session 2011, (View) A Bill amending Article 951.12 “Annual Collection Fee Schedule” of the Codified Ordinances to increase refuse fees, which was introduced by Nixon at the November 15 meeting of Council and read by short title, came up for final passage. On motion of Nixon, seconded by Nelson, Bill No. 42, Ordinance No. 45, passed by the following vote: Yeas – Nelson, Hill-Evans, Nixon, Smith – 4; Nays – Ray – 1.
 
Resolution No. 159, Session 2011, (View) A Resolution amending Bill No. 44 (2012 Budget) to reduce expenses in the General Fund and Internal Services Fund, was introduced by Nixon, read at length, and on motion of Nixon, seconded by Smith, Resolution No. 159 passed by the following vote: Yeas – Nelson, Hill-Evans, Nixon, Smith – 4; Nays – Ray – 1.
 
Resolution No. 160, Session 2011, (View) A Resolution amending Bill No. 44 (2012 Budget) to increase real estate tax and payment in lieu of taxes revenue line items in the General Fund, was introduced by Nixon, read at length, and on motion of Nixon, seconded by Smith, Resolution No. 160 passed by the following vote: Yeas – Nelson, Hill-Evans, Nixon, Smith, Ray – 5; Nays – 0.
 
Final Passage of Bill No. 43, Ordinance No. 46, (View) A Bill adopting the 2012 York City Budget ($41,722,514.00), which was introduced by Nixon at the November 15 meeting of Council and read by short title, came up for final passage. On motion of Nixon, seconded by Smith, Bill No. 44, Ordinance No. 46, as amended by Resolution No.'s 159 & 160, passed by the following vote: Yeas – Hill-Evans, Nixon, Smith – 3; Nays – Nelson, Ray – 2.
 
Final Passage of Bill No. 44, Ordinance No. 47, (View) A Bill adopting the 2012 tax rate ($20.37 on each $1,000 of assessed valuation), which was introduced by Nixon at the November 15 meeting of Council and read by short title, came up for final passage. On motion of Nixon, seconded by Smith, Bill No. 44, Ordinance No. 47, as amended by Resolution No. 160, passed by the following vote: Yeas – Hill-Evans, Nixon, Smith – 3; Nays – Nelson, Ray – 2.
 
ADJOURNMENT: There being no further business, the December 31, 2011 meeting (continued from December 29, 2011) adjourned at 11:02 a.m.