As you know the year 2020 was an unusual time with many challenges, but also many accomplishments. The Adams County staff have done a highly commendable job of addressing and adapting to challenges that were encountered in 2020, with the largest being COVID-19. To be part of and observe such tremendous teamwork is a blessing.
In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic began to disrupt the world. It completely transformed operations. The changes related to COVID-19 impacted every department and every service that the County provides. We do not know if there will be permanent impacts related to COVID-19 but will continue to consider best practices and make changes based on the current needs. For the first time ever, the State passed a five-month budget and did not guarantee funding beyond that budget. At all levels of government and business, there are additional risks. A substantial amount of services are funded with state and federal dollars, which we will continue to monitor closely.
The 2020 General Election was unlike any in the history of Adams County. The County set up a secure process to assure the integrity of the election. In addition, measures were implemented to address COVID-19 safety protocols for the well-being of all those working the election and those voting. Adams County turn-out reached record proportions at 78.6%. Of Adams County’s 72,388 registered voters, 56,930 voted in some manner. There were 37,239 in person ballots, 19,084 mail in ballots, and 607 provisional ballots that were securely processed. The staff integrity of the election in Adams County was top notch. The extensive planning, preparation, and execution of the election, by county administration, staff and poll workers, resulted in an election day that was secure and efficient. The Adams County Board of Elections and the Elections Office were well-organized and transparent. The volume of mail-in ballots was certainly a challenge, but staff did an outstanding job of processing approximately 19,084 mail-in ballots. During the counting of the votes, both political parties watched the process in person and via video to make sure the process was safe and secure. The election in Adams County shows that good planning, dedication, and execution for this inalienable right assures a secure and efficient election process.
In 2020 the County developed a three-year capital improvement plan focused on assuring quality services to the community, improving efficiency of operations, and maintaining existing infrastructure. A portion of these projects will be funded from bond proceeds. In the 2021 budget year there are projects to improve information technology, improve security in county buildings, enhance judicial operations and assure ongoing infrastructure at the prison. The Mercy House, a seven-bed recovery house for males, is close to completion and will begin serving our community in 2021. Courthouse improvements in the Prothonotary’s office have been completed and improvements in the Sheriff’s office continue to progress well. These renovations have been performed by the internal staff of Building and Maintenance and IT, which has saved the County considerable money. The upgrades are an improvement operationally and maximize efficiencies while enhancing service to the community.
On July 09, 2020 Moody’s Investors Service assigned a Aa2 general obligation unlimited tax (GOULT) rating to Adams County, PA’s $10 million General Obligation Bonds, Series A of 2020 and $25.5 million General Obligation Bonds, Series B of 2020 (Federally Taxable). Moody’s indicated that the County’s management is strong as evidenced by conservative budgeting practices which have resulted in sustained, ample reserves. The Aa2 rating reflects the county’s large, stable tax base, average resident wealth, and strong financial position.
With all things considered, the county can take satisfaction with its financial situation in 2021. The success the county has had balancing the budget without a real estate tax increase can be attributed to slowing the growth in short- and long-term costs, prudent borrowing, savvy debt management, and working with staff to improve cost efficiency. We expect with good fiscal management and vision combined with reasonable economic conditions, that Adams County government will continue a very steady and positive path.
As the county enters a new year and looks forward to future years, we will continue to strive to efficiently and effectively meet the needs of Adams County’s citizens through responsive services that promote the health, safety, and the well-being of our residents.
Steve Nevada is the manager of Adams County.