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No Tax Increase in 2015 York County Budget

Property owners would not see a tax increase under the preliminary 2015 budget unveiled Nov. 26 during the York County Commissioners’ regular Wednesday meeting.

If approved, the budget would hold the line on taxes from County government for the fifth time in the last six years. Taxes were last raised in 2013 to help make up for more than $7 million in state and federal budget cuts to mandated services.

Under the 2015 proposal, the millage rate would remain 4.52. A taxpayer whose property is assessed at $150,000 would continue to pay $678 in County real estate taxes.

“We’re proud to present to the community another balanced budget that will maintain the highest possible level of service at the lowest possible cost,” said President Commissioner Steve Chronister. “We continue to look throughout our organization for ways to cut expenses and improve efficiency.”

The proposed $487 million budget includes general fund expenses of $196.7 million, an increase of 3.2 percent compared to 2014. The higher costs will be offset with proceeds created through the refinancing of existing debt to obtain lower interest rates.

Major pressures on the 2015 budget include:

  • Higher prison costs: The FCC is proposing to eliminate the Prison’s ability to collect commissions on intrastate calls placed by inmates. These commissions are used to offset certain inmate expenses, such as medical and dental expenses, that now must be absorbed into the cost of prison operations. The change is expected to cost taxpayers $900,000 in 2015.
  • Debt service: The federally mandated 911 radio replacement project, coupled with the build-out of the Judicial Center’s 5th Floor, will help drive a $2.5 million increase in debt payments.
  • Employee healthcare: Like many employers, the County continues to experience high healthcare cost growth. The County’s growth rate (7 percent) is below the national average but is nonetheless responsible for a projected $2 million cost increase in 2015. The County is combatting this trend with plan changes meant to increase employee contributions and encourage more cost-conscious healthcare choices.

The budget will retain an estimated $9 million fund balance, crucial to preserving the County’s AA Stable financial rating.

“This high credit rating reflects the County’s strong financial health and ensures we will receive favorable interest rates on any future borrowing,” said Commissioner Doug Hoke. “It’s part of our commitment to sound financial management practices.”

The general fund budget also includes an investment of approximately $900,000 in capital expenses. Much of the funding will be dedicated to maintaining county facilities and strategic technology upgrades meant to boost efficiency and reduce costs over the long term.

“We continue to leverage technology to streamline workflows and improve productivity,” said Commissioner Chris Reilly. “These types of forward-thinking investments ultimately reduce taxpayer costs by allowing our staff to accomplish more work in less time.”

The preliminary budget calls for a 2 percent cost-of-living increase for non-bargaining employees. Union employees will receive increases based upon the applicable labor contracts, typically 2 percent to 3 percent. Elected officials will receive 1.4 percent increases in 2015, based on a 2010 ordinance that ties increases for the County’s elected officials to inflation.

The budget is slated for approval on Wednesday, Dec. 24. It will be available on the County’s website (http://yorkcountypa.gov) and at the Commissioners’ Office for public review.

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Note: Click here to view historical millage rate data and an explanation of how individuals can calculate their own property taxes.

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