The following questions were asked recently on the Wonderline:
Q: What has changed for the City of York government or the York community in the past two years, for Mayor Stahr to now support the hiring of a new assistant public works director, creating a new City of York administrative position? Mayor Stahr actively opposed this new position during the mayoral campaign.
When he was a candidate for mayor, Mr. Stahr wrote in a letter to the editor the following:
“I am writing this letter to the editor for two reasons.
“First, I wish to express my opposition to the proposed hiring of two additional full-time administrative staff members by the City of York.
“Secondly, it will be only fair to those persons seeking these positions to be aware that, if I am elected as Mayor of the City of York, I will seek city council approval to amend the budget and eliminate these positions.
“The city is proposing to hire a full-time “Planner” at a salary of $66,365 plus $17,577 in benefit cost and to hire a full-time “Manager of Public Utilities” with a salary of $51,394 plus $16,432 in benefit cost. The city also proposes to spend an additional $17,850 to purchase a pickup truck for use by this utilities manager. This would result in over $150,000 in additional administrative costs to the tax and rate payers of the city annually.
“In past years, the responsibility for planning, seeking grant funding, administering grant programs and implementing various community improvement projects has rightfully been the responsibility of the City Administrator and the management of the water and sewer utilities departments has rightfully been the responsibility of the public works director. My reason for opposition to the hiring for these positions is that the City of York has not grown in population or economically for a number of years and very little has changed. I see little need to hire two full-time people to do the jobs that past city administrators and public works director have successfully done.
“Since the current city administration has done little to inform the citizens of the city of the proposed hirings and the costs associated with these added positions, I want to make certain that the citizens are informed and that they be given an opportunity to express their opinions to the mayor and council before these positions are filled.”
So what has changed?
A: We sat down with Mayor Orval Stahr this week to talk about this issue.
“My position hasn’t changed,” the mayor said. “The council included the utilities manager position in the budget, which I didn’t agree with. And I’ve said, and continue to say, if we are going to hire this position, we need that person to be a civil engineer. We pay out hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in engineering fees and if we had someone in-house, we could do that work in-house and there would be a savings.
“I’ve said, and I continue to say, that this position as it was originally presented, was just another position to reduce the work load on the public works director,” the mayor continued. “So if they are going to spend the money on this position, they need to also save money on the engineering. Those duties need to be include engineering work. So I haven’t changed my position at all.”
Stahr said he would also like to see that person, if hired, also be in charge of the city’s zoning and planning work, as well.
“Again, I haven’t changed my position in the matter, I’m just trying to respond to the council’s reasoning on this position,” Mayor Stahr said. “And it needs to be said that due to the city’s budget issues, this position probably won’t be filled anyway.”
He said he has concerns about the city’s influx of revenue and reserve finances, which will be discussed further next week when he, the administration and council start meeting about the budget for the new fiscal year.
When asked about a major jump in sales tax revenues a month or so ago, Mayor Stahr said that wasn’t actually the case. He said the city’s sales tax receipts that go into the general fund and the ½ percent special sales tax (for specific projects) were inadvertently added together – so the total was misleading. He says the city’s revenue stream, when it comes to sales tax, continues to be lackluster and while he hopes the same amount as last year will come in by the end of this fiscal year, he predicts it will likely be $100,000 less.
It should be noted that the city takes in about $3.2 million in sales tax revenue each year.
Q: I have a pewter tea pot that was dropped and now has a dent in it. Where can I take it to get the dent taken out?
A: We don’t know for sure. If someone does this type of repair work, they are welcome to leave a message on the Wonderline and we will relay the answer.
Q: There is a guy who smokes meat in my neighborhood in York, on a daily business, in a residential area that is not a commercial or industrial location. The smoke is everywhere and none of us neighbors can take it any longer. Does the city have regulations about creating excess smoke like this or bad smells or something?
A: During a recent York City Council meeting, this topic was addressed and York City Attorney Charles Campbell said the city doesn’t currently regulate smoke or odors and if the council wants to address the issue, they can through amending the existing ordinances.