York City property owners, who pay the highest property taxes in the county, will get their first look at the city's 2014 budget at a series of public hearings next week.

By law, the York City Council and Mayor Kim Bracey must agree on a balanced budget before midnight Jan. 1, 2014.

The city begins its annual budgeting season with hearings, open to the public, during which department directors present their plans for 2014 to Bracey.

The hearings kick off at 1 p.m. Monday at City Hall, 101 S. George St., with a presentation from the public works department. The community and economic development department will present Tuesday, followed by business administration and elected officials Wednesday and the police and fire departments Thursday.

All of the hearings are scheduled for 1 p.m., except for a 10 a.m. session Friday that offers the public a chance to comment.

Mayor's proposal: Sometime in the next few weeks, Bracey will propose a comprehen-

sive budget to the council, which could hold its own series of yet-to-be-scheduled hearings.

Last year, for the 2013 budget, the city did not hike property taxes -- only the second time that's happened since 2004.

But the year before, property owners swallowed a 17 percent increase in municipal taxes.

Councilman Henry Nixon said he's hopeful the city can hold the line again on taxes.

"I would not only hope that we could do that, I would like to think that we've been able to stabilize the finances sufficiently that we do not need a tax increase," Nixon said.


-- Reach Erin James at ejames@yorkdispatch.com.