Lancaster City Hall 2018

Lancaster City Hall

Lancaster officials have been talking about providing the city a fresh financial and operational checkup, and now they’ve picked the firm that will do it. 

City Hall is contracting with Philadelphia-based PFM Group Consulting to conduct a thorough, top-to-bottom review, looking at ways to cut costs, improve efficiency and enhance revenue, director of administrative services Patrick Hopkins and Mayor Danene Sorace told City Council. Its final report and recommendations are expected in late February.

PFM’s proposal was one of six the city received, and it stood out for its thoroughness, Hopkins said.

The company will be paid $124,975. The city expects half the cost to be covered through a grant from the state’s Strategic Management Planning Program.

Previously named the Early Intervention Program, it was established to help cities struggling to stay afloat but has since broadened its mandate and is open to any municipality or group of municipalities interested in improving operations.

“Lancaster is not in financial distress,” Sorace emphasized. That said, the city has raised property taxes eight times in 14 years “and we cannot continue to do that.”

The city conducted a similar review in 2007. It yielded more than 180 recommendations, almost all of which were implemented. Finding additional ways to achieve significant savings will likely be challenging, but it’s essential to make the effort, Sorace has said.

The mayor has also been pushing for reforms at the state level, contending that cities can’t sustainably continue to cover the cost of the services they’re mandated to provide with the limited revenue options they have.