News

2016 Final Budget Approved

The York County Board of Commissioners on Wednesday unanimously approved a balanced 2016 York County budget that will increase County-levied property taxes for only the second time in seven years.

The approval comes in response to rising costs in a number of core County services including public safety and child abuse prevention. The County’s budget also was impacted by increases in employee pension costs, health care costs and a rising subsidy to support the County nursing home.

Under the approved plan, the millage rate will increase to 5.16 from 4.52. The owners of an average home, with a property assessed at $131,345, would pay $677.74 in real estate taxes, an increase of $84.06 compared to 2015.

President Commissioner Steve Chronister said the County has little choice but to increase revenue given rising costs, many of which are due to factors outside of the County’s control.

For example, the federal government is requiring the County to install a new, $27 million radio system but has not yet provided any funding for the project. The County also is facing a large increase in child abuse investigation cases due to new child-protection laws, forcing the Office Children, Youth & Families to increase staffing to handle the caseload.

The office’s caseload through November increased 80 percent compared to 2014.

“While I do not like raising tax revenue, it’s the responsible choice given the cuts we’d otherwise have to make to balance the budget,” Chronister said. “We have an obligation to ensure proper funding for child abuse investigations and other key services.”

Commissioner Doug Hoke said the budget would ensure the County remains on solid financial footing. He noted the plan fully funds the County’s pension obligation, a decision that will be looked upon favorably by credit agencies.

Standard & Poor’s in 2010 recognized the strength of the County’s finances when it upgraded the county’s credit rating to AA, one of the highest available ratings.

“The decisions we make today ensure the health of the County in the future,” Hoke said. “This plan maintains the County’s strong financial position without undercutting the high quality services our community expects from County government.”

The $533.9 million budget includes general fund expenses of $212.6 million, an increase of 8 percent compared to 2015. The final millage rate increased slightly compared to the preliminary budget due to modest adjustments in revenue and expenses.

Commissioner Chris Reilly said the County is facing a cascade of increased expenses this budget cycle. He is advancing several proposals that should reduce expenses in future years.

“We must look at new strategies to shield our community from future tax increases,” he said. “We cannot continue to ask residents for additional money to support County operations.”

Administrator Mark Derr said the County is facing financial pressure on a variety of fronts, including:

  • Health Care: The County, which is self-insured for health care, is expecting health care costs to rise by $4.6 million compared to the 2015 budget. The growth is fueled by a surge in claims combined with the rising costs of providing care. The increase comes despite plan changes that increased employee contributions and encouraged more cost-conscious health care choices.
  • Pension Contributions: The County’s required contribution to its pension plan is increasing by $2.5 million compared to the 2015 budget.
  • Children, Youth & Families: The County’s portion of the cost to operate the Office of Children, Youth & Families will increase by $1.8 million. The increase is largely due to increased staffing and other costs associated with the series of child protective services laws passed in 2014.
  • Pleasant Acres Nursing & Rehabilitation Center: The County’s subsidy to the nursing home will increase by $1.5 million, to a projected $7.7 million.
  • No opportunities to refinance existing debt, which generated approximately $7 million in revenue in 2015.
  • $840,000 in additional debt costs associated with the new 911 radio system under development. The new system was necessitated by a 2012 federal law requiring the County to change its frequency band.

To help offset some of the negative impacts, the budget does not include about $124,000 in 2016 funding requested by County departments. Special allocations will be held at 2015 levels.

The general fund budget also includes an investment of approximately $808,000 in capital expenses. The vast majority of the funding will be used to replace aging vehicles.

The final budget 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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