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From the Desk of
Town Commissioner Chris Staiger

(10/11) Well, by the time this is published, the battle between ‘managerial efficiency’ and ‘transformational leadership’ will have been resolved. Regardless of who was victorious, the reality is that all of your elected officials could do better on both fronts. We should continuously try to communicate better with one another as well as with the larger community of residents and business owners. We must also work better as a group to drive town government toward positive changes that benefit our whole community.

When we are described as being unresponsive, I often find that the real issue is a lack of effective communication within town government. When individuals have an issue of particular concern, I recommend that they contact all of the elected officials instead of just town staff, the mayor, or one commissioner. I will be proposing that we establish a contact e-mail,, so that you can reach all elected officials at one go. It is the Board of Commissioners that passes town ordinances and reviews town policies. We are here to address your concerns and be your advocates. We are all residents of town with homes and families – just like you!

At recent meetings, the board has attempted to address numerous community issues that may not affect a large number of people but are definitely a quality of life concern for some – including relaxing restrictions on where homeowners can park their trailers, modifying setback requirements so that homes on smaller lots can build carports or garages, finding a way to address competing concerns over grass height requirements, or loosening restrictions on where businesses can place signs. None of these are momentous actions in and of themselves, but I think they show a small town government trying to accommodate the day to day concerns of members of the community.

We will soon review the fees that are charged for town office services with an eye to eliminate those that currently apply when employees are just doing their normal jobs. We might collect $8,000 a year - charging $15 for this service, $25 for another, or $125 for that service. I don’t think we need to bother residents with these kinds of fees just to evaluate an application for a shed or a deck or to put a new roof on your house… It doesn’t affect the bottom line and we are already paying the town employees to do the job anyway. Charging these fees just winds up aggravating people.

What about the future of our community??? Much of the required (but unglamorous) background work necessary to chart a general direction has been completed over the last three years: a Comprehensive (master) Plan for our community, a Water & Sewer Capacity Management Plan that identifies our infrastructure resources (and limitations) as well as where we would like to expand them, an Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance to define the conditions necessary to accommodate growth, a comprehensive rezoning to lay out a template for infill and expansion, and revisions to zoning ordinances to promote business growth. But these accomplishments don’t usually inspire hurrahs – more often than not there is just a sigh of relief!

The real area for improvement is a change in attitude from simply holding on to what we have to taking that bigger step into the future. So let’s have a "summit" to get the players together! As President of the Board of Commissioners, I’ll extend an invitation to the business community to hold a special meeting and discuss their concerns. We can then develop an action plan to address them. Once we have our own house in order, we will be in a better position to lobby for resources. Another key step is to resolve the ‘old’ Emmitsburg versus ‘new’ Emmitsburg tension. People who have lived here their whole lives need to recognize that they themselves allowed for the residential development that exploded in the 1990s on the east side and spread to the west side a decade later. "New" residents need to realize that the value of property doesn’t trump one person one vote. Let’s work together to build a better Emmitsburg. Wow, I can’t wait to serve another three years!!!

Sincerely, Chris Staiger

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