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Adams Council of Governments addresses financial ratings, Covid grants, school challenges

Adams County Treasurer Chris Redding addressed community leaders at the Sep. 22 Adams County Council of Governments (ACCOG) meeting, saying the county’s healthy A2+ rating for financial status reflects a joint effort of community sectors working together in a complex office with many moving parts.

Redding said the treasurer’s office works with the 34 township and borough tax collectors on real estate and per-capita taxes. The office also provides thousands of licenses for hunters, sportsman, pet owners, bingo operators, and more.

Redding said she is proud of the government finance team that was formed several years ago to streamline the account structures that enhance the county budget process.

A former tax collector in the Straban Township for 10 years, Redding said the move towards a more digital format is a positive direction that provides the option of electronic payments to improve convenience and efficiency. 

ACCOG secretary Danielle Helwig focused on National Incident Management Systems (NIMS) training. The Central Pennsylvania Emergency Management System oversees NIMS preparedness in Adams and other central counties. County Manager Steve Nevada said the training was useful and that interested community leaders could get more information from the NIMS website or by checking with their county solicitors. Nevada said typical threats include flooding, severe storms, fires, and hazardous material incidents.

Response and Recovery Fund Grants Announced

Adams County Commissioner Randy Phiel provided the ACCOG with information about the Adams County Response and Recovery Fund grant that will provide up to $5 million in non-repayable funding for projects that will help to alleviate the negative impact of Covid 19. He said the county’s two priorities for the grant money will be the economic impact caused by the pandemic and water and sewer projects. He encouraged interested community leaders to take advantage of learning more during the pre-application period from Oct. 1 to 23 by visiting the County website. Applications will be accepted Oct. 24 to Nov. 1. “Hopefully the pre-qualification period will help,” he added.

Reminding the group that it is election year, Phiel said that the Precinct 2 voting place will return to Gettysburg College now that the school’s face-mask mandate has been lifted. He reported that the commissioners’ office has approved, for the first time in years, an increase in poll rental payments, from $45 to $100, and for poll workers, whose stipends will increase on average by about $70.

Nevada asked community leaders to remind voters who wish to use mail-in ballots that they must be received by 8:00 p.m. on election day. He said if voters try to mail their ballots on election day, they will not arrive in time. The last day to register to vote is Oct. 24.

Commissioner Marty Qually updated the ACCOG membership on the county broadband study that has just appointed a task force and is currently working with consultants to look at the feasibility of providing internet services to underserved areas in the county. He explained that the task force involves a “mix of leaders from different fields.” He said they would seek input from the community through surveys sent digitally, by mail, or in person. Monthly meetings open to the public will keep the community updated on the task force’s progress. 

The county fire service boundary maps have been finalized, said Sherri Clayton-Williams, Director, Office of Planning and Development. “It was a huge undertaking, and we are happy to have it done.” Asked when the boroughs and municipalities will receive the new map, she said they were waiting for municipal approval but anticipated the maps would be available by the end of the year.

Lori Duncan, Conewago School District business manager, asked community leaders to take the time to attend their local school district meetings. “Let’s communicate better and work together.” She said that while new housing developments may be seen as a benefit to townships and boroughs, leaders may not realize the potential burden schools face with the increase of students. She referred to aging buildings, capacity student populations, and the rising costs of education as issues that need to be jointly discussed.

Justin Peart, business manager for Bermudian Springs School District, said public education has become much more challenging since the pandemic and that many problems are now magnified. “We have a bullseye on our backs with what is now happening in education.

David Bolton, meeting presider, commented, “You brought a need forward. I agree, let’s work on that.”

The Adams County Council of Governments meets monthly to provide a forum for the discussion of mutual interest by local government entities and to coordinate joint activities between members on an as-needed basis.  

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Judith Cameron Seniura is a freelance reporter. She began her journalism career in the early ‘70s and has written for newspapers, magazines, and other media in Ontario, Canada, Alaska, Michigan, Nebraska, San Antonio, Maryland, and Pennsylvania.

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