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From the Desk of:
Commissioner Candidate Paul Kellett

(4/1) Many people have asked me why I have chosen to run for the office of Adams County commissioner. My answer is that I look forward to being your voice in Adams County’s future. The voice that says saving our farms is important, that says by being more efficient, we can and should be more compassionate. The voice that says we can protect our water and promote real economic growth. The voice that listens, debates and discusses the problems and opportunities in public and with the public - so that the best path will be taken. Unfortunately, your voice appears to have been sacrificed on the altar of unity. For the three years the current board has held office, the votes have all been 3-0. Your voice has been that zero. Zero debate, zero discussion.

Even though voters in 2008 voted 3 to 1 to levy a $10 million bond to protect our water and save our farms, the current board in 2014 budgeted zero dollars for that protection. In 2015, an election year, they have budgeted $265,000 for ag land preservation; at this higher 2015 rate, it would take 38 years to use the $10 million - not exactly what voters had in mind. It is also about 1/8 of the amount of the proposed TIF gift to Walmart.

But preserving agriculture is more than purchasing easements; it is supporting the conservation district and the extension office, respecting their autonomy and supporting them in their efforts. Remember, all development does not lower your taxes. If it did - New York City would have the lowest taxes in the country. As my doctor reminds me - not all growth is good.

TIF financing is a gift to a developer-in the current proposal, a $2 million gift to the developer of a Super Walmart shopping center. They call it financing because the gift is financed with a bond paid back with real estate tax dollars. Now, the difference between a super Walmart and a Walmart is groceries. So, to believe that super sizing Walmart is going to bring new jobs to Adams County, you also have to believe that people are not currently buying groceries. To legally give this $2 million gift, you have to believe that the farm that will become this shopping center is blighted, and that this gift is the only way that it will become un-blighted. A few months ago, the developer purchased the first 10 acres for $3 million - makes you wonder what land that is not blighted is worth. But we do have blight in Adams County, and we do have a need for good jobs but not the kind that Walmart brings. Shuttered factories, such as Boyd’s Bears, Tyco, Schindler and Herff Jones, are all great locations for TIF financing and would be economic development we all could support.

We need to openly debate the direction in which our county is heading. Too often, we, the public, hear only the praise that the current board lavishes on itself. "Commissioners credit unity for year’s success" read a recent headline. Yet, that "success" has not always been what you might call "successful".

The County’s annual payment on debt has increased by $750 thousand dollars, even as they re-finance to lower interest rates. The county’s debt has skyrocketed in the past three years, even though taxes have been raised. This current board received a $6 million dollar windfall from selling Green Acres, our county nursing home, yet despite this windfall, our debt payment since 2011 has increased by $62,500 a month. This increase has occurred even as short-sighted budget decisions are being made.

As an example, take 3 of the row offices, Prothonotary, Registrar & Recorder, and Treasurer. Their combined budgets for minor equipment was $36,221 in 2011, but in 2015’s budget that combined number is only $193. This was a move done to "trim" the budget in an election year; one that deflates morale and costs taxpayers more, even the short run. Yet, over the same period of 2011-2015, the commissioners own budget for "professional services" has nearly doubled from $105,000 to $202,000. They have "set aside" politics to embrace poor management.

For these reasons, and many more, I ask for your support to be your voice in the commissioners' office.

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