OPED: Connecting a caring community

president, York County Board of Commissioners
Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2016--Susan Byrnes, York County president commissioner. Bill Kalina photo

This is the second of what will be an ongoing communication from me, as your president commissioner, to our York County citizens.

My intention is to inform and raise awareness regarding the operation of your county government.

In doing so, I will recognize efforts by our county workforce and encourage your participation in making the delivery of services by us even more effective and efficient. You are invited to email me at SPByrnes@YorkCountyPA.gov with your ideas that might serve to improve our community.

The term “transparency in government” has received much attention recently. In the Office of your County Commissioners we have taken the following steps in this regard:

  • We are taking our weekly commissioners meeting “on the road”. We will be at York High School on April 20th and at the Delta Senior Center on May 4th to hold our weekly 10:00 a.m. meetings. All meetings are televised and the minutes for each are available online at www.YorkCountyPA.gov
  • The commissioners' schedules are available to the public. You may call 771-9656
  • The commissioners agreed to a “no gift acceptance” commitment. Commissioner Reilly will continue to abide by State Ethics Commission Guidelines and Reporting.
  • A majority of commissioners agreed to not submit any requests for reimbursement of mileage expenses
  • At Solicitor Glenn T. Smith’s initiative, we will be eliminating payments to tax collectors acting as enumerators for collection of per capita tax with an anticipated savings of approximately $8-10,000 in 2017
  • We are conducting a review of all special allocation requests for funds and instituted a freeze on all current requests
  • The Commissioners extended a hiring freeze on new positions and promotions until July 2016

With regard to collaboration, we established a public/private Pleasant Acres Nursing Home task force to identify opportunities for improved efficiency and effective service delivery at our county nursing home.

In addition, the county and Rabbit Transit partnered to create a “Fund for Veterans” so that our veterans can utilize Rabbit Transit services for free. If you would like to support this effort, please contact Rich Farr at rfarr@rabbittransit.org.

York College, the City of York, Downtown Inc.  and the County of York partnered to renovate the York County Rail Trail from York College to Lafayette Plaza.

Our Dept. of Human Services on May 26 will hold a Trauma-Informed Care conference to draw additional attention to the devastating and lifelong negative impact Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) have on childhood development. The goal of this conference is to build upon the work of Logos Academy which recently sponsored a public showing of the documentary Paper Tigers, an emotionally powerful film about the issue. The May 26 forum will be led by Michelle Hovis, executive director of our Human Services Dept. Details are: May 26, 2016, 8:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., Pullo Center, contact Colleen Igo, system of care coordinator cigo3@comcast.net for more information.

In recognition of April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month and Child Abuse & Neglect Month, the York City mayor, county commissioners, district attorney, YWCA President Jean Treuthart, COO Rich Azzaro and Deb Harrison, executive director of the Child Advocacy Center gathered to highlight the partnerships between their organizations and concerned citizens. Together, we are providing awareness, prevention and treatment to victims of sexual assault and child abuse in York County.

I continue to email our 2,600+ county employees to thank them for their dedication to our citizens in their daily work in our fifty departments. We distributed a number of Commissioners’ Gold Coins over the past three months, including to a team at Mental Health – Intellectual Development Disabilities for their efforts to support and obtain treatment for a daughter of a veteran who was unable to accomplish this on his own.

In closing, during the past twelve weeks I’ve witnessed and experienced wonderful acts of caring and concern by York countians for their fellow citizens. Whether it was a veteran-to-veteran, farmer-to- farmer or county employees addressing the needs of children, youth and their families, the actions of offering a hand-up with a smile are plentiful. We have the ability and heart to both encourage self-reliance and support those in overwhelming circumstances.

This is the work and gift of living in York County.

Thank you for all you do to build and improve our community.

— Susan P. Byrnes is the president of the York County Board of Commissioners. Reach her at SPByrnes@YorkCountyPA.gov