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From the Desk of County Commissioner
Randy Phiel

(1/2017) Normally November and December is a time of holiday cheer, but in most governmental entities such as Adams County, it is also budget time which is not always so joyful. On November 30 the Adams County Board of Commissioners presented the 2017 tentative budget with no tax increase. As usual we asked departments to engage with us in the budget process and meet their targets. Although Adams County is in an overall healthy financial position with an excellent bond rating, as revenues consistently remain flat this will be a tight budget. Revenues have been flat since we have taken office nearly five years ago due to little commercial development. Revenues and a significant increase in development are not predicated to change significantly anytime in the near future. The operating side of the budget is holding its own; while the capital (equipment) requests are proving somewhat challenging. Some items like replacing an old patched together $200,000 chiller to make sure the courthouse is air conditioned in the summer are obvious. Other items are not so obvious like vehicles and equipment at the prison.

We are fortunate to have healthy restricted and unrestricted reserves. By combining some department budget adjustments - while using some unrestricted reserves and limited borrowing for capital projects we were able to defer a tax increase again this year. The majority of the Board did not feel it appropriate to raise taxes when appropriate reserves are available. This will be the third year with flat revenues and no tax increase. If the lack of new development persists, the Board will be faced in the future with the difficult decision of cutting human services, increasing taxes or both. Adams County government largely provides human services. It is never easy to cut services to some of our most needy residents. It is also many times foolish to not provide fundamental services. If these fundamental services like counseling and drug/alcohol treatment are not provided, they may end up costing the county many times over what the cost of the basic service would have been. Letís hope we find some economic development projects in our stockings!

The 1st Phase of the new Human Services Building project is nearing completion for Probation, Children & Youth Services, IT and Security. The first department to move in will be the portion of Probation that is already located in the building. As soon as IT can move in they will begin to install the telephone system and other technology. Furniture arrival dates will be another determining factor. Painting is being done, cabinets and counters being installed and bathrooms being tiled. Some Phase 2 work has already begun in the Domestic Relations/Court area. It is anticipated Probation will be moved by mid-February and CYS by mid-March. We are currently working with Cumberland Township on some additional parking issues and a sally port at the rear of the building. Phase 3 and the entire project are scheduled to be completed summer of 2017.

When the Human Service Building renovation is totally completed it will house Children & Youth Services, Probation, IT, Court Operations, Security, Domestic Relations, two District Justice offices, Maintenance and Mental Health. Adams County residents have been required to go to York County for mental health services and this facility will have a mental health component with approximately ten counselors. This is an extremely significant addition for Adams County residents. The facility is surrounded by approximately 26 acres of beautiful fields and woods on which a portion could later provide some complimentary development opportunities. There will be free convenient parking and public transportation will serve the facility.

Thanks to all the county employees and community members that came out to Giant Foods and the Soldiers National Cemetery earlier this month to support the SGT Mac National Wreath Project. It was a great cause, and a beautiful day marked by a tremendous community effort. There was a large turnout and we put 11,500 wreaths and bows together and stacked them in four tractor trailers and a smaller trailer in two hours. Approximately 1600 wreaths were placed by volunteers in the Soldiers National Cemetery in Gettysburg the same day. The next day the remainder were placed by volunteers at the Marine Cemetery in Quantico. If you have not participated in this project or viewed the results, I highly recommend that you do.

Southern Cumberland Township is in the readership distribution area of the Emmitsburg News Journal and I offer all township readers the following suggestion for an educational and informative evening with the Cumberland Township Historical Society. On Monday, December 5, my wife Kathy & I went to the society meeting for an interesting presentation of Mysteries of the Gettysburg Cyclorama. One fact mentioned is that the Cyclorama program in the winter is 30 minutes long instead of 15 minutes during the summer Ė so read Chris Brennemanís The Turning Point of the Civil War On Canvas book - and then go see the program in the winter. Having been involved in security of the cyclorama and building for 30 years, I found the presentation particularly interesting. The CTHS presentations are held quarterly at 7PM at the United Brethren Church on Biglerville Road. The next program is Monday, March 6 with McAllister Mill as the topic. That presentation is followed the next evening Tuesday, March 7 by John Hornerís presentation of the historic Horner Farm in the southern part of Cumberland Township on the Mason Dixon Line. Occasionally, I also catch an excellent Adams County Historical Society presentation at Valentine Hall at The Seminary. These presentations are an interesting and educational way to spend an evening and you canít beat the price - Free!

There are lots of things to do in Adams County this time of year. No matter what you do get out there and experience all the historic, recreational, agricultural, natural and cultural opportunities that beautiful Adams County has to offer. On behalf of The Adams County Board of Commissioners I wish you a Blessed, Safe & Healthy New Year!

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