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From the Desk of County Commissioner
 Jim Martin

(12/2013) The month of November in Adams County was anything but uneventful. The Adams County Board of Commissioners covered much of the county, from monitoring Election Day activities to attending various evening meetings with municipal officials. The one on one discussions with officials were an excellent opportunity to learn what is important in various municipalities. We also made an unplanned but sobering visit to assess the fire damage experienced by Latimore Township. This was an unpleasant reminder of how quickly our circumstances can change and the value of risk management.

The week of November 19, 2013 in Adams County truly memorialized the importance of the actions of those who have gone before us. This reflection began as we had the privilege to be present for the reenactment of Abraham Lincolnís train station arrival. Fittingly, the event began at the original 1863 Carlisle Street Train Station. The arrival included musicians portraying Lincolnís "The Presidentís Own Band" in authentic uniforms playing the popular pieces of the Civil War era on original instruments. President Lincoln warmly greeted the crowd that was present and thanked them for their support during such difficult times in our nationís history. Accompanied by David Wills and the welcoming crowd , President Lincoln was escorted to the Wills house on the Square of Gettysburg.

Although this was a reenactment, it represented an important moment in time that contributed to Lincolnís writing and delivering the famous Gettysburg Address. As Lincoln lodged at the Wills House on the 18th of November, neither he nor those that would hear him speak the following day could have ever imaged the impact of Lincolnís to-be-named Gettysburg Address. This reenactment was even more memorable and authenticated as we were treated to more historic music on the Square by the "Presidentís Own Band". It is wonderful to be able to relish such great historic moments, especially when it is in your own back yard. This was a quality event and we recommend it be repeated in the future preceding Remembrance Day.

As most of us are aware, November 19th has become known as Remembrance Day to honor Lincolnís delivery of his Gettysburg Address. Adams County has thus become the keeper of this occasion and hosts a parade to add to the celebration. These activities put a spotlight on how one personís action can have such a profound effect. Having these reminders of the greatness of Lincoln surrounding us serves as a genuine motivation to carry out the functions of government through difficult times and challenges.

We as the Board of County Commissioners have also taken on a number of difficult and bold challenges, however not to the level that Lincoln faced. Our first county budget for 2013 was one of our difficult challenges, but planning our budget for 2014 presents a greater and even more difficult challenge. There are a number of factors that will make the 2014 budget extremely challenging. The overall property value of the countyís tax base has only increased by .35% over last year. That equates to $118,900 in additional tax revenues for 2014. That amount falls well short of covering the increase in the union contract wages for correctional and probation officers. Many of our operational expenses, for example postage and rent, have been increasing at a rate greater than revenues,. We are facing 2014 with our County Prison at capacity, a situation that we have not previously experienced. Additionally, the Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare") has added in excess of $200,000 to the Countyís health insurance program costs. There is essential computer hardware and equipment that is at or approaching the end of its life expectancy and, based upon professional assessment, they must be replaced before failure to function. Such failure leads to costly data recovery.

To deal with these and other increasing operational costs, each department of the county government has been tasked with finding all means of cutting their departmental expenses. Once this process is completed it will be determined whether or not sufficient cuts have been made to balance the 2014 budget. By the first week in December we plan to present our tentative 2014 county budget. In summary, we anticipate that the 2014 budget will require difficult decisions. These decisions will be based upon practical principles geared toward creating a sustainable budget. Unlike our Federal Government that operates a deficit budget, Adams County will produce a balanced 2014 budget.

On a more cheerful note I would like to thank everyone that contributed non-perishable foods to families facing hardship for Thanksgiving. The Adams County Human Resources department recently received hundreds of pounds of food from County employees and friends. The Countyís Children & Youth Services will then organize this donated food into gift boxes for deserving families they know and serve. May this spirit of care for others extend into the Christmas season.

Best wishes for the Holidays, Jim Martin

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