This editorial first appeared online in the York Daily Record on July 27, 2016
In these days of political speeches about fixing government, it is refreshing to hear that York officials are not waiting for legislative change but are proactively pursuing strategies to strengthen the fiscal health of our municipalities. Michael Doweary, York City’s business administrator, and Mark Derr, York County’s administrator, are wisely looking for win/win opportunities to share services and save taxpayers money. When municipal officials reach across boundaries and work together to provide the same services more efficiently, that’s good government.
Mr. Doweary is also right in asking the York City fire department to find common-sense staffing solutions. There is no question that our public safety employees are heroic and should be valued. At the same time, as city employees, we expect them to seek efficiencies so city taxpayers don’t shoulder the burden of wasteful staffing requirements. Such leadership was demonstrated when city police officers accepted a new contract last year that helped the city become more financially stable. The Mayor and City Council then did the right thing by passing along those savings to taxpayers and reducing real estate taxes for the first time in years.
We applaud all of our firefighters for ignoring municipal boundaries when responding to fires. Why not take that philosophy of mutual aid to the next level and proactively develop a regional staffing model for the Greater York area? That’s good government and York City Fire Chief David Michaels deserves credit for his willingness to explore the idea.
York County is a leader in finding collaborative solutions to the common problems facing our community. We were among the first to combine police departments to better serve citizens and streamline redundant expenses. Ambulance services in southeastern York County joined together last year to form Southern York County Emergency Medical Services to ensure consistent, quality services in that rural area. York County is also pursuing the creation of a county-wide stormwater authority so municipalities can work more efficiently to protect our waterways.
Collaboration isn’t just a nice thing to do. Without action on the state level, sharing services is one of the few tools municipalities have to cope with rising personnel costs and a limited tax base. The future of our community rests on our ability to partner across municipal boundaries, political parties, races and income levels to make York great. Our vision is a united York County that offers unsurpassed opportunities for all. Creative acts of good government are exactly what is needed … Yorkers, taking matters into their own hands, working together for a Greater York.