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From the Desk of County Commissioner
Jim Martin

(2/2016) In 2015 Adams County Government through the leadership of the Board of Commissioners had numerous successes that will serve to set the stage for 2016. Number one was the successful launching of the new digital 911 Emergency Radio System. Our system went into operation smoothly with none of the serious difficulties experienced several years ago by other counties installing new digital systems. The various emergency and law enforcement personnel were and have been extremely pleased with the performance of the system and how it has served them. The thorough planning and system analysis by the various work groups combined with excellent training were key to the near flawless launching of the system. It certainly was the birth of a new era in Adams County Emergency Radio Services plus gaining seamless interoperability with adjacent counties’ emergency services.

Our old radio system was antiquate and unreliable. The new digital system was much needed and became a major improvement in services to the residents of Adams County. For these reasons the project was of the highest priority as we stepped into office as a new board. I personally know the value of efficient, quality emergency services, without it I would not have been here to prepare this article. The emergency service I received was an outstanding response from Emmitsburg’s Dr. Bonita Portier and her staff plus the Emmitsburg Emergency Transport team; they all deserve much praise for their professional services that contributed to saving my life. Please excuse me, but I thought this to be a most appropriate way to high light this recognition. Knowing how emergency services impacts the lives of our residents was good reason for making the successful launching of the emergency radio system the number one success of 2015.

The successes that we accomplished in 2015 were a result of working smarter and with detailed analysis and planning, both financially and logistically. This type of effort is why the County was several millions of dollars under budget at the end of 2015. With this budget surplus there was no need to raise property taxes for 2016. Our goal is to repeat that same scenario through 2016 and avoid a property tax increase for 2017.

You may be saying to yourself, "but we just started 2016". That is true, but for Adams County to have been millions of dollars under budget in 2015, efforts had to begin as soon as we enter 2015. So, for 2016 we must follow the same pathway, but perhaps a somewhat modified version. Whatever the path, the opportunities must be created and the savings must begin now.

Our second success of 2015 was the purchase of the Herff Jones building, a true example of creating an opportunity for savings. Two years of inter departmental analysis was needed to provide the assurance that the purchase of the Herff Jones building was a sound decision. Not only would it reduces county expenses, but it would provide a means to improve county services. Also by operating from this facility rather than renting space provides the county control over escalating rents, provides free and ample parking, and room for future expansion in a modern facility.

As a member of the CCAP Insurance Pool Investment Board we create a sound investment strategy that is aimed at satisfying short term needs and being positioned to accomplish long term goals. After four years in office, I truly feel we have developed a stronger financial position to accommodate short term needs as well as long term goals. I call this operating within a business-like frame work. Good businesses operate in a manner to improve their financial position rather than to weaken it. Personally I believe the board of commissioners sees the value of operating the county as a business. Just prior to the last general election, the board of commissioners was criticized by some for running the county as a business. Well, I believe the majority of Adams County voters put the same commissioners back in office because they too see the value of running the county like a business.

I believe our overall challenge is to provide adequate and good services in a cost-efficient manner relative to county revenues. As far as county revenues are concerned, the outlook is that they will remain flat in 2016. Why? Our county tax base remains stagnant. This is why it is so vital to develop strategies and opportunities to reduce expenditures. Until sufficient economic development occurs in Adams County that will increase the tax base, the pressure to reduce expenditures will remain. In Moody’s latest bond rating of Adams County, it cites this dilemma as the major obstacle to improving the county’s financial position. Thus, I see one of our major goals for 2016 to be "stimulate economic development". Those that have closely followed our commissioner forums from the beginning know that that goal is not new, but perhaps it needs greater emphasis. Do not be surprised if greater focus falls on "economic development" in the months to come.

Best Regards, Commissioner Jim Martin

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