Persistence is paying off in York City.

Last year city officials and a band of volunteers launched a concerted, organized and somewhat aggressive campaign to entice tax-exempt property owners to donate 25 percent of what their municipal tax bill would be otherwise.

Not every nonprofit -- the religious, educational, government and social-service institutions that make up about 37 percent of city properties -- heeded the call.

But enough of them did that the campaign can be called a success.

Not only did some organizations increase their donations, about half of the 23 tax-exempt property owners who kicked in were first-time contributors.

Mayor Kim Bracey had set a fundraising goal of $760,000, and the campaign raised $460,000 for the 2012 general fund. While it fell short, the amount was significantly higher than the $310,000 raised in 2011.

The big donors again were WellSpan, which increased its contribution by $100,000, and the York County Industrial Development Authority, which upped its 2012 donation to $75,000, from the $37,500 in gave in 2011.

It's also encouraging to note some nonprofits that weren't able to contribute money tried to help in other ways.

York City Councilman Henry Nixon, who helped with the campaign, said some institutions responded with in-kind services or donations of another kind -- like a church that donated batteries to the fire department.


In addition, several churches that didn't have money available now said they work a payment-in-lieu-of-tax donation into their 2013 budget, Bracey said.

Assuming city officials can continue increasing participation, their ultimate goal of about $2 million in contributions annually -- which they estimate to be 25 percent of what tax-exempt property owners would owe if they were taxed -- doesn't seem so farfetched.

York City property owners -- the 63 percent that pay taxes to cover the cost of services for everyone -- can certainly use the relief.

They already pay far more in school and municipal property taxes than property owners anywhere else in York County -- and they were recently hit with a 17 percent hike last year, in addition to an 8.5 percent increase in school property taxes for the 2012-13 fiscal year.

Those nonprofits that contributed -- or contributed more -- showed the taxpayers they understand they're all in this together.

The city is a natural, central location for tax-exempt properties like religious, educational, government and social services institutions. And if the cash-strapped city can't maintain a level of service to maintain a safe and clean environment, they will suffer along with the taxpayers.

Hopefully more nonprofits will realize this and break out the checkbooks for the soon-to-be launched 2013 fundraising campaign.