OP-ED: Farewell from York County Commissioner Susan Byrnes
This is my final communication to my beloved York County as your president commissioner. Five years ago, I began this journey with a commitment to lead a “renewed vision” of collaboration and caring in county government. Although I held many leadership roles in our community over the previous 25 years, I had never served as an elected official.
What I experienced and came to treasure was an incredible body of 2,200 dedicated and hard-working individuals in all reaches of jobs that serve our county. As the culture of previous administrations was replaced with new leadership that encouraged innovation, action and accountability, we saw new bold changes by our employees that improved the services and programs being delivered to our citizens.
A recent local news article advocated that the new board of county commissioners now focus on being “leaders” and not “managers.” I respectfully submit that our new commissioners will have the opportunity to think and act strategically because so much of the past four years was focused on the leadership/management duties of:
- Replacing and hiring new leaders in the critical government services of Veterans Affairs, York County Prison and the 911 Center.
- Making the decision with the sale of Pleasant Acres that had been ignored for too many years and as part of the ownership transfer, the creation of a $1 million endowment fund, managed by a board of citizens whose job it is to see to the extra needs of York County residents.
- Implementing new financial software that allows the $600 million county budget to be much more effectively managed and accessed by row officers and department directors.
- Establishing a trust fund for employees’ post-employment benefits that will reduce the county liability by $51 million.
- Creating a capital reserve fund to address the inevitable facility expenditures that will occur in the future.
- Establishing both the financial resources and dedicated personnel to focus on preserving our treasured land in York County.
- Creating a public/private partnership to provide free daily transportation for our veterans to the Lebanon VA Hospital.
- Instituting quarterly leadership training for our county directors and elected officials in addition to meeting on a formal basis with our state legislators to strengthen the dialogue between local and state priorities.
- Broadcasting our public meetings live on Facebook that, thanks to a partnership with White Rose Community TV, allows us to reach more residents.
Anyone interested in a more comprehensive review of the Commissioners’ Leadership Team is invited to visit our website.
There is always more to be done. The new board of commissioners, elected row officers and department directors have opportunities to set new courses by building upon the current strengths and work relationships in place. They will find an astounding force of county employees ready to work together, improve efficiencies, innovate when opportunities arise and offer their talents on behalf of the citizens of York County.
At my induction in January 2016 I said, “I will support, obey and defend the Constitution of the United States, and the Constitution of this commonwealth; and that I will discharge the duties of my office with fidelity …” I leave this position fully confident that I have been true to those words both in spirit and actions.
The 14th Dalai Lama encourages us to be glad for every new day and “… to expand our hearts out to others.” I am most fortunate to call York County my home and am grateful for the opportunity to have served as your president commissioner. My sincere thanks to the Leadership Team in the commissioners’ office and the dedicated employees throughout our county government. It has been my honor and pleasure to work with you.