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From the Desk of County Commissioner
Jim Martin

(9/2016) Every August the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania (CCAP) sponsors an annual summer conference of county commissioners and other county officials. CCAP invites a motivational speaker for each summer conference. I would like to share the high points of this year’s motivational speaker. Her messages can be applied to all of us. They were centered on how we approach each day, each person, and each situation. Ultimately she asked, "What impact does our presence have upon others?"

The first admonition from the speaker was for us to enter each day with a good attitude. Philosophically the foundation of a good attitude is a thankful heart. A local doctor’s office is on the right track with that philosophy. Posted on his message board is the question, "What are you thankful for today?" Our speaker’s second main point was a challenge for everyone to be a "fountain" and not a "drain". Individuals who are "drains" suck the life out of a discussion or a meeting, while "fountains" lead with positivity and are solution oriented. We need multiple "fountains" to resolve community and county issues. Since returning from the conference, I was delighted to see this pointed message posted in the county: "Be a fountain, not a drain." Good job!

The third high point addressed by our speaker, and the remedy given, was totally unexpected. She asked the question, "How many of you deal with obstructionists?" Hands went up all over the room. She said you need to challenge those individuals with a simple and polite message, "Be outstanding, get involved, or move on". If necessary to help maintain a good attitude she recommended picturing yourself using sign language similar to the motions used in the YMCA song. "Be outstanding (form an ‘O’ with arms over your head)"; "get involved (rolling hands like football illegal motion signal)"; or "move on (thumbs outward pointing left and right)".

On the evening of August 18th the Adams County Commissioners had the privilege of riding in the Littlestown Good Ole Days Parade. There was an excellent community spirit as we assembled and rode through town. It was definitely a "fountain" evening as we received warm greetings and friendly comments. Much of my feeling of euphoria may be attributed to a good attitude borne from a thankful heart. Because the day before the parade we welcomed our fifth grandchild, Jackson Paul Cox, to our family.

Back to the CCAP Conference; it also provided two spirited resolution debates. CCAP often develops resolutions for debate and future votes. The resolutions, when passed, are presented to state and federal legislators to advocate for issues that affect PA counties. The resolutions are debated from the floor by any conference registered county representative. The first spirited debate came from a resolution to appoint an independent board to avoid gerrymandering following a decennial census. I am voting NO regarding this resolution. Why? Simply because the voters need to maintain their right to have their elected representative at the table during the process of reapportionment. With a truly independent board (if it is even possible to create one) the voter has no elected representation.

The second heavily debated issue was "NOT to allow automatic voter registration". I voted not to allow automatic voter registration because we should be registering those citizens who truly want to participate in the election process. They should recognize that the duty to register to vote is a highly valued American freedom. In addition, automatic voter registration will require additional administrative time and expense for those that have no participatory intention and it cheapens the honor of registering to vote. I personally argued that just because we have the technology to do automatic registration does not make it right and wholesome.

Regardless of periodic and spirited debates, CCAP is known as the "Voice of PA Counties". One non-controversial resolution was voiced as a message to the state legislators about the 2016-2017 state budget. This resolution objected to the substantial cut in the state’s funding for judge’s salaries. When the legislators passed the 2016-2017 state budget, state funding was cut by $30,000 per judge. The resolution demands restoring this cut. For Adams County the cut in funding meant we lost $120,000 in judge salary assistance. Because judge salaries are mandated, that difference becomes the responsibility of the county, putting additional stress on our county budget.

Even though other similar types of state budget cuts were made for the 2016-2017 budget, the legislators still passed a deficit budget. The budget that was passed had a structural deficit of approximately $1.2 billion. Ouch! Some of the fiscally responsible legislators, including Adams County’s Moul and Tallman, voted NO for the unbalanced (deficit) budget and questioned the constitutionality of approving a deficit. As the Commissioners of Adams County we have never passed an unbalanced county budget. We regard a deficit spending budget as unlawful and irresponsible.

In the past, CCAP was an extremely strong voice for restoring 911 Emergency Services funding to historic levels. The county, until last year, had a 911 funding drop of approximately $400,000 per year. Thanks to the advocacy of CCAP and the lobbying of the Adams County Commissioners, new legislation has restored the county funding and potentially added funds. The same effort was put forth to preserve ACT 13 funding (Marcellus Shale Impact Fees). Governor Wolf’s proposals threaten the loss of these funds and actively seek to end Marcellus Shale gas drilling altogether. Preserving this funding has brought $135,000 to Adams County this year for bridge repair and maintenance besides tens of thousands of dollars for natural resource conservation and recreation related projects. Our investment in CCAP has helped Adams County replenish in excess of $600,000 for this year’s budget.

While all the above was unfolding, the County has been moving closer and closer to beginning our reconstruction of the interior of the Herff Jones building, now referred to as the County Human Services Building. Following the next preconstruction meeting, the demolition phase will begin and reconstruction will immediately follow. Moody’s Bond Rating service looks very favorably upon this project as an indication of our positive outlook and the strengthening of our financial position.

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