Monday, July 15, 2024

York County Unanimously Passes FY 2025 Budget

York County Board of Supervisors (York County)

YORK COUNTY — The York County Board of Supervisors unanimously passed its fiscal year 2025 operating budget at its May 7 meeting.

Highlights include a reduction in real estate tax rate to .74 per $100, a reduction in the personal property tax rate to $3.80 per $100, elimination of the vehicle license fee, and an increase in the solid waste fee schedule.

Changes include a reduction in real estate revenue of $400,000 due to Board of Equalization decisions reducing property assessments, a reduction in the general fund transfer to the capital fund of $750,000, and reductions in transfers to the school division of $160,000, public works expenditures of $140,000, and emergency communications expenditures of $50,000.

Supervisor Sheila Noll took issue with what she saw as a lack of transparency in the budget process.

“I thought at the last meeting we had approved what we were going to do, I joined you with raising the amount that you want to take from the personal property tax, even that was a little bit more than we should be doing,” Noll said. “I’m looking at all these little things you’ve picked from here and there and this has turned out to be more political than it has been in the best interest of the citizens and I just have a problem with it.”

“I will vote for a budget because a budget is the biggest thing we do for this county, but I think at this lower level, we have to think about the process and we have to think about the transparency,” she continued. “There has been so little transparency, and yet when you all ran for office, you all talked about transparency.”

Supervisor Doug Holroyd disagreed.

“We talked at the last meeting with giving Mark (Bellamy) direction about what the staff needed to work on. We came close but I was very clear at the last meeting that we had further work to do. I talked about the CIP, I talked about the $750,000 reduction, I felt that there was room to still go another .5 cents on personal property tax,” Holroyd said.

Supervisor Wayne Drewry added he, too, felt there was no lack of transparency.

“We asked for the meetings and Stephen (Roane) was very gracious to meet with me for almost three hours, talking about things that we felt needed to be reduced more because our constituents were asking us to do that, all of them. Nobody said, ‘hey, great job on that budget,’ but you need to get used to looking at the budget because that’s what we will be doing, going through the budget with a fine tooth comb,” Drewry said.

However, Supervisor Thomas Shepperd disagreed with Drewry and Holroyd.

“The issue of transparency falls on the fact that this seems to be, this process, this budget, was done one phone call at a time. It wasn’t done in a meeting where everyone could sit here and watch what we talked about. There’s a couple of things that I think contributed to that,” Shepperd said, noting that coordination efforts were made but still fell short.

“The two new members of the board did not buy into the CIP. I can understand why because they inherited it. It was not something they helped create and that can be a problem,” Shepperd continued. “In its process, some members asked for large reductions and then some were okay with what the budget had been presented before. I look at the changes that are being proposed as more of an appeasement than an actual change to the budget.”

Chairman Stephen Roane suggested adding additional budget work sessions to the calendar in next year’s budget process to continue to add transparency, but said he ultimately, he was proud of the budget that was presented.

“I think you are going to be hard-pressed to find another municipality, another county, another city, that delivers better value per tax dollar than York County does,” he said. “With what we do here, with the tax dollars we have and the investments we make, we have a professional and accredited sheriffs office, a fire and life safety department, we have top-rated schools in the area that people go out of their way to move to, we have great parks and recreation that thousands of people every week enjoy, the list goes on and on. We do a good job of that and it’s all about doing the best job that we could.”

To watch the meeting in full, visit the Board of Supervisors website. The next Board of Supervisors meeting is scheduled for May 21 at 6 p.m. at York Hall.

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