Four percent wage increase for County employees

The Adams County Commissioners approved a four percent pay increase for all elected officials, commissioners, and court employees, effective Dec. 18, 2023, except employees represented by a collective bargaining unit or on probationary status. The cost to the County will be $914,790, reflecting the 360 non-union county positions. There are 192 union positions, of which the Adams County Adult Correctional Center represents half.

Commenting on the wage increase, Commissioner Randy Phiel said the raise is usually three percent, although last year’s was five percent. “We are all suffering the same issues with the cost of living and the hiring and retention of employees,” Phiel said, adding that “four percent was the sweet spot.”

Phiel said that the County wants to ensure the quality of staff because that equates to quality of service to its constituency. Retention of employees means less time and cost necessitated by retraining new staff, he explained.

On the plus side of the county budget, a new hotel tax collection solution for the treasurer’s office will streamline the process that Phiel described as complicated to track. The one-year agreement with iGovServices, including maintenance and support, will cost $14,400.

“It’s become quite complicated to track where the money is coming from, and businesses need help understanding it as well,” said Phiel. “It’s a great step forward for county revenues.”

Currently, the office is using a program designed by the County’s IT department, said Christine Redding, County Treasurer. “The new program will allow operators to file and pay online and upload documents,” she explained. “It will allow the treasurer’s office to move forward with paperless collection efforts and seamless data collection. However, she noted that operators can still pay by check.

Adam’s County imposes a five percent hotel room rental tax on the estimated 150 facilities providing short-term lodging, such as hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts, guest houses, and cabins on campground. Proceeds from this tax go to promote tourism (75%) as well as to local borough and township police departments that have lodgings facilities within their jurisdictions (12.5%). The additional income supports Adams County’s economic development and historic preservation programs.

Redding credited Kierstyn Green, Chief Deputy of the Treasurer’s Office, “for coordinating, collaborating and aligning all the dynamics” that resulted in the recommendation to the Board.

Other Board Business

  • The County and Commonwealth shared in the acquisition of two new property easements for the combined cost of $369,690, of which the county share is about $30,000. The largest purchase was the Arentz family’s 60.10-acre farm in Union Township. The other purchase was the Bruce Pohlman and Son Hog Farm, a 42.23-acre property in Germany and Union Townships.

  • While the Department of Emergency Services sought approval for purchases dedicated to maintaining the count’s 911 system, it was awarded nearly $100,000 in state grant funding for upgrading the system. The Commissioners approved $6,876 for the maintenance of the DES’s uninterruptible power supply equipment and another $46,000 for the annual quality assurance review of calls from the fire and police dispatch system.

DES Director Warren Bladen explained that the reviews are required on an annual basis by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. It consists of reviewing random calls to measure their compliance with FEMA mandates. The grant money awarded by the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency will support the geospatial call routing of the County’s upgraded 911 system through 2024.

Police Chief Honored

McSherrystown Borough Police Chief Michael Woods was recognized for his 21 years of service at the beginning of Monday’s meeting. “It was truly an honor to serve the community and Adams County,” he said. “I enjoyed every minute and would do it all over again.”

Kathleen Todt, Borough mayor, praised Woods for his “honesty, integrity, and great character.” She said Woods cares about the community he swore to protect and has always “done the right thing, even if not the popular thing.”

Commissioner Randy Phiel thanked Woods for his 21 years of service, proclaiming Dec. 13 as Michael Woods Day in Adams County.

Biosolid waste issue

A Redding Township resident spoke to the Commissioners about a problem his neighborhood has with biosolids, commonly known as “sewer sludge.” George Wolf asked the commissioners for assistance storing and spreading the sludge on the three farms surrounding his property. “It doesn’t just have an odor. It has a stench,” Wolf said.

Biosolids is a relatively new term to describe sewer sludge treated for stabilization and pathogen reduction, making it suitable for land application.

Wolf said he believes it is a health issue and can be so bad that residents can’t open their windows. “It affects your eyes and nose and gives you headaches if outside,” Wolf said he had contacted all local and state officials, including the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), but to no avail.

“If I said I had the answer, I would be lying,” Commissioner Phiel said. He asked Wolf to provide his contact information and said the County would try to assist him.

Other Board Business

  • The County and Commonwealth shared in the acquisition of two new property easements for the combined cost of $369,690, of which the county share is about $30,000. The largest purchase was the Arentz family’s 60.10-acre farm in Union Township. The other purchase was the Bruce Pohlman and Son Hog Farm, a 42.23-acre property in Germany and Union Townships.
  • While the Department of Emergency Services sought approval for purchases dedicated to maintaining the count’s 911 system, it was awarded nearly $100,000 in state grant funding for upgrading the system. The Commissioners approved $6,876 for the maintenance of the DES’s uninterruptible power supply equipment and another $46,000 for the annual quality assurance review of calls from the fire and police dispatch system. DES Director Warren Bladen explained that the reviews are required on an annual basis by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. It consists of reviewing random calls to measure their compliance with FEMA mandates. The grant money awarded by the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency will support the geospatial call routing of the County’s upgraded 911 system through 2024.
  • The 11th of 14 Adams Response and Recovery Fund (ARRF) grants will be dispersed to the Lake Meade Property Owners Association to invest in water and sewer infrastructure to manage and treat stormwater or subsurface drainage water on existing and proposed roadways. The $250,000 awarded amount was previously approved by the Board at the public meeting on Mar. 22, 2023. The funds will be available through Dec. 31, 2024.
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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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