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From the Desk of Commissioner Candidate Jim Martin

(8/1) After winning the May, 2011, primary nomination for Adams County Commissioner I was extremely honored and truly humbled. Also, I must admit it was very rewarding to know that the hard work and dedicated efforts of our campaign volunteers and supporters had achieved our goal.

Many new residents and recently registered voters have questions about how many commissioners form the commissioners’ board and how many commissioners will be elected November 8th. The commissioners’ board is composed of three commissioners who are elected every four years. On November 8th voters will elect three commissioners from the four candidates that won primary nominations on May 17, 2011. Of these candidates, the three that receive the highest vote totals will win the three commissioner seats. Voters will be allowed to vote for no more than two candidates.

I entered the race for Adams County Commissioner after serious personal examination of my fitness for the position and with a sincere desire to contribute to the well being of Adams County. From my perspective entering the race was a bold move since I had never run for public office but, I had numerous voters encouraging me to run. I was even challenged by JFK’s statement that we were put here to be productive and that we need to be givers (not referring to taxes) and not takers to make our nation and communities strong.

Having the "desire" to be a commissioner is only part of what is needed for this position. Background and work experience are essential components of a successful commissioner. I am confident that my background and experience will serve the county well as I fulfill the duties as an Adams County commissioner. I received a Masters Degree in Agricultural Economics which led to a career as a Farmers Home Administration County Supervisor. In that position I administered credit programs and financial analysis for rural businesses and county economic development. I have had considerable supervisory experience working in the local food processing industry where I learned the value of good budgeting and cost efficiency practices which are valuable experiences to a commissioner. For the past 10 years I have been a real estate agent, allowing me to be in touch with many of the aspects and issues pertaining to Adams County. This familiarity with the county strengthens my capacity to perform as a county commissioner. Another strength that I can bring to the commissioners’ office is my forestry background. My forestry degrees provide me with resource management knowledge and experience that can be useful to a rural county like Adams.

I regard Adams County as very unique in that it contains one of the nation’s most hallowed historical treasures that attracts millions of tourists annually, it contains the center of Pennsylvania’s fruit belt with the state’s best apple and peach production, it has significant forest and woodland tracts, and it provides the stage for highly desirable and diverse settings in which to reside. I acknowledge that the challenge is to blend these characteristics with the need for economic and business growth.

Economic growth is vital to tax relief; it provides for greater revenues that can expand the tax base and lessen the tax burden for property owners. Adams County ranks in the lowest 20% of Pennsylvania counties in retail sales per capita while Hanover area sales per capita rank among the highest in Pennsylvania. Also Franklin County, to the west, well exceeds Adams County in retail sales per capita. This indicates that Adams County residents are traveling outside the county to make many of their purchases. Our goal should be to improve the business environment that we may benefit locally by less time and gas in travel and by an improved tax base.

As we look at the future of Adams County, there will likely be unexpected issues to surface. Even though we cannot predict the future, we can prepare for the future. In addition to improving the business environment, the second step of preparation would be controlling the county debt . The ratio of debt to tax revenues must be at a financially sound level. I feel that we are presently at a critical level and raising tax rates to pay this debt is not an acceptable solution. The third step is to relieve the pressure of rising debt by a serious commitment to operate within our means. This will require a regular detailed accounting report that accurately depicts week by week whether we are behind or ahead of budget. I expect to work closely with the controller to accomplish this task. The fourth step is to put in place the best path method of property reassessment under the advisory of qualified, professional appraisers. In future articles I plan to address other issues related to the welfare of Adams County.

I hope to meet many of you at the South Mt. Fair, August 16th to 20th or at other community events I plan to attend.

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