York City is sitting on a fiscal powder keg, and officials have known it for years.

A 2011 report commissioned by Philadelphia-based consulting firm Public Financial Management predicted the city will face a $50 million deficit by the end of 2016.

Only drastic measures can avert the financial disaster, the consultant warned.

That was two years ago, and we have yet to see such measures -- or, frankly, even a sense of urgency from some York City officials.

We think it's time for a "drastic" change.

Of the four city council candidates competing for two open seats in next week's election, only Libertarian Manuel Gomez seems to fully grasp the seriousness of York's financial situation -- and what it will take to correct it.

Yes, at 29, he's young.

Gomez's brash style also has visibly rankled officials during the council meetings he regularly attends.

But at least he's asking the tough questions -- and is well-versed enough on the issues to know when he's not getting a straight answer.

Gomez has been a vigilant watchdog for years; it's time to see what he can do when it comes to finding solutions.

Hopefully, he'll find an ally in Councilman Henry Nixon, who's seeking re-election next Tuesday.

Their styles are 180 degrees apart, but, like Gomez, Nixon seems to understand the clock is ticking and business as usual will no longer cut it.


Nixon -- a longtime city resident and former executive director of the York Symphony Orchestra -- took it upon himself to address one of the biggest problems facing the city: its high percentage of tax-exempt, nonprofit properties.

He spearheaded a well-organized effort to contact every single tax-exempt property owner in the city and request they pay a specific amount -- 25 percent of what their municipal tax bill would be otherwise.

The campaign raised $460,000 for the 2012 general fund, significantly higher than the $310,000 raised in 2011.

It's merely a dent, though, given the big picture. But at least Nixon did something.

The challenge for Nixon, Gomez and the rest of the council will be to reach beyond the low-hanging fruit and make it a priority in 2014 to finally make those "drastic" changes that are necessary.

That will require a greater degree of independence from the mayor's office than the council has previously displayed.

Mayor Kim Bracey is seeking her second term, and we think she deserves it.

Her administration didn't create the city's problems, and she's made it her mission to lobby the state Legislature to change a municipal government structure she calls "broken and antiquated."

In her first term, Bracey joined other Pennsylvania mayors in urging lawmakers to create new laws to provide third-class cities a menu of revenue-generating options, such as sales and income taxes, to reduce their dependency on property taxes.

That's important, and we hope she continues those efforts.

But York City can't afford to wait for help from lawmakers who can't even agree on how fix the state's crumbling transportation infrastructure. If a public safety threat can't unite these folks, we doubt the plight of York City is high on their list.

We need, finally, a Plan A -- and that will require the mayor and council, working together, to make the city's financial health their top priority.