York County commissioner candidate wants to expand services, but unsure of funding

Lindsey O'Laughlin
York Dispatch
Democrat Madeline Geiman, 25, of York City, is running for York County Commissioner. She'll face three other candidates in the May 21 primary.

Madeline Geiman wants to build halfway houses in the suburbs and expand services for York County citizens struggling with drug and alcohol addiction, but the Democratic candidate for York County commissioner doesn't have a plan to pay for it without raising taxes or cutting spending.

Geiman, 25, of York City, is the youngest of nine candidates vying for three seats on the county board. She could not name any specific county programs or departments she would trim to pay for her plan.

"I wouldn’t think that there’s one place that I would like to cut," she said of the county budget. "I think it’s more of putting the money in better places."

Geiman works as an electronics technician but said she couldn't disclose the name of her employer because of confidentiality requirements dealing with government contracts.

In the first half of 2018, Geiman worked full time on congressional candidate Shavonnia Corbin-Johnson's failed primary campaign for the Democratic nomination in Pennsylvania's 10th Congressional District.

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Addiction struggle: Geiman's focus on expanding drug and alcohol treatment services comes from her own experience with alcohol abuse.

At 21, she was working three jobs and going to school full time, she said, but she struggled to pay her bills and spent the money she did have on alcohol.

After receiving an eviction notice from her landlord and being denied welfare benefits through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Geiman reached out to her family and sought treatment for alcohol abuse.

She recently celebrated three years of sobriety.

"I had a great support system of my friends and family who would check in with me multiple times a day to say, 'Hey, how’s it going,'" she said. "I’m very lucky to have received that support. But in reality, every person going through addiction should have that same support."

Geiman said she'd like to offer more treatment services outside of the city in an environment conducive to staying sober and accessible to people across the county.

Another issue on her radar is the York County 911 center, which has been struggling with staff retention for several years.

If elected, Geiman said, she'd like to go to the 911 center and speak with the dispatchers and supervisors in person to learn what needs to be done before making any decisions.

"The actual commissioners have to go into the 911 center, not paid consultants," she said. "That’s exactly where we could stop throwing our money."

The county has contracted with two companies over the past two years to review operations at the 911 center and to assist in the county's mandated radio system update in 2017.

Most recently, the county commissioners approved a contract with a New Jersey company in January to provide a comprehensive audit of the 911 center operations, management and other factors, for an estimated cost of $116,800.

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Confused on taxes: On her campaign website, Geiman initially said the county had increased property taxes during all but one of the past 10 years.

But the county has only increased property taxes three times since 2010, and that was in 2013, 2016 and 2017.

After learning her statements on county taxes were inaccurate, Geiman updated her website to say that in the past 13 years, there were only six years without a tax increase.

That claim is also inaccurate, though.

Beginning in 2019 and going back to 2007, the county increased property taxes six times. The other seven years did not have a tax increase.