(Photo: Tim Stuhldreher)
(Photo: Tim Stuhldreher)

City Council unanimously approved Lancaster's 2022 budget Tuesday evening, as well as a resolution signing the city onto the National Opioid Settlement.

The budget, introduced last month, leaves the city's property tax rate unchanged at 11.7 mills. One mill equals $1 per $1,000 of assessed property value.

General fund spending is up 4% over 2021, to $67.1 million. Adding in the city's four "enterprise" funds — the water, sewer, stormwater and solid waste & recycling accounts, which are funded by user fees — brings total spending to $131.2 million, up 2.1% over 2021.

The city is budgeting $4.5 million in American Rescue Plan Act "revenue replacement" funds to fill a 2022 structural deficit that would otherwise necessitate a tax hike, Mayor Danene Sorace said.

The exact amount of ARPA revenue replacement the city will be eligible to use in 2022 won't be known until next fall, after the audit of its 2021 budget is completed. The actual amount may be a bit higher or lower than $4.5 million; in either case, the city's reserves can either supply the balance or absorb the excess, Director of Administrative Services Patrick Hopkins said.

The 2022 allocation will mark the city's second use of ARPA for revenue replacement. On Tuesday, Council approved applying $3.16 million to this year's budget, 2021, for that purpose. The allocations come from the city's total ARPA balance of $39.5 million.

While property taxes will remain unchanged, solid waste & recycling fees will rise 4.7%, or about $4 per quarter for residential customers. The increase is needed to cover the city's higher costs for hauling and disposal, Councilwoman Amanda Bakay said.

Water rates will likely rise at some point in 2022, although not right away. That's because the city is seeking permission from the Public Utility Commission to raise rates for its suburban customers. Once the PUC makes a decision, the city expects to adjust its in-city rates to match.

For full details on the budget, visit the city website.

(Source: City of Lancaster)
(Source: City of Lancaster)

Opioid settlement

City Council's decision to join the National Opioid Settlement helps pave the way for the county to receive as much as possible from the agreement — possibly up to $15.7 million, county Solicitor Jackie Pfursich said.

The settlement, negotiated by several states that sued Johnson & Johnson and three major opioid distributors, provides for payments of up to $26 billion, of which up to $1 billion could come to Pennsylvania. The funds are to go toward addiction prevention and treatment initiatives.

The county signed onto the settlement earlier this month. The terms require all 17 Lancaster County municipalities with populations over 10,000 to participate in order for the county to receive maximum funding. Municipalities do not receive the funds directly, but the county could potentially allocate some of it to them, Pfursich said.

The participation deadline is Jan. 2. Pfursich said the county is working hard to get all 17 municipalities on board.

(Source: Lancaster County)
(Source: Lancaster County)
Tim Stuhldreher