OPED: Year-end review of York County government
Doug Hoke, vice president commissioner of York County, discusses how the county was able to avoid raising taxes for its 2018 budget.
In preparing this communication, I decided to focus on the planned initiatives for our upcoming year rather than a historical review of the past quarter.
As I approach two years in the position of president county commissioner, I am pleased to witness and participate in a shift in the culture at multiple levels of county government. This is a tremendously positive step for our 2,600 employees and the services they deliver.
At the start of our annual budget development process we gathered all the department directors together and clearly enunciated the need for each of them to look past their individual department boundaries when considering their 2018 needs. We stated that although they receive no recognition or financial bonuses for collaboration, as might happen in a private enterprise, their consideration of the impact of their budget requests makes a significant difference to every other leader in the room.
The result of this request was that many department leaders responded with thoughtful, fiscally-stringent budget projections. Due to their willingness to defer or eliminate items in their department budgets, there was no tax increase and we constructed and passed a balanced budget for 2018. We owe a great deal of gratitude for the tireless efforts of county administrator Mark Derr, Treasurer Barb Bair and budget director Tom Hoover, architects of the county’s budget.
While many long-term financial obligations of the county remain, the actions of these leaders demonstrated a profound shift in the culture and process of developing our budget.
Department leaders are communicating with one another and creating new opportunities for collaboration. They are working together to provide evidence-based programs and services for York Countians. One example: Warden Clair Doll at the York County Prison is expanding and enhancing working space at the prison for our public defenders and probation staff.
Our York/Adams Drug and Alcohol Commission leader, Audrey Glatfelter, and her team are working side-by-side with our Children, Youth & Family caseworkers to identify and treat the needs of parents in crisis. These are leaders who recognize the benefits of crossing department lines to improve efficiency and effectiveness in the delivery of their services.
In 2018, we will build upon the initiatives already underway with the establishment of our private/public quality committee. This group will continue to focus on the elimination of costs that have outlived their usefulness and improve service delivery.
The following initiatives are key 2018 priorities:
- Recruitment and retention of employees with information garnered from our compensation benchmark study
- Implementation of a leadership development program with department directors
- Public effort to share the workings of local government with citizens
- Ongoing support of the York Opioid Collaboration
- Ongoing review of the operations and finances associated with Pleasant Acres Nursing & Rehabilitation Center and our 911 department
I am very appreciative of the opportunity to serve as your president commissioner for the past 23 months. I remain committed to a renewed vison of collaboration and caring in the York we love.
“What is the essence of Life? To serve others and do good.” — Aristotle
— Susan P. Byrnes is president of the York County Board of Commissioners.