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County Hall Corner: Practically Perfect Priorities

There is an old adage in management that states a failure to plan is a planing to fail. True leaders look down the road and project the best path to take that will be to the greatest benefit to their constituency or organization. At the conclusion of the Lycoming County Commissioners meeting on Tuesday, February 23rd, Commissioner Chairman Scott Metzger took five minutes during the comments segment to present targets for the county moving ahead in 2021. He presented these as “categories of strategic goals,” by that, he meant that they were somewhat broad yet clear enough to see what direction the commissioners were going in.

The priorities list began with advancing the county’s financial health, focusing primarily on the county budget. This will involve quarterly budget reviews, a strategic planning management program, and seeking ways of keeping employee health care costs down. The county intends to leverage and increase outside agency alternative funding sources as well. This is to be done through Phase II of the strategic management planning management program. Regionalization is also tied to cost savings by examining more closely opportunities where services could be networked with others that would save money yet without losing effectiveness.

Closely related to this is the priority of investing in human capital. The county employees are critical, so the commissioners will be looking to update county policies, succession planning, updating performance evaluations, and continuing to work on employee morale.

The county owns a lot of property, and the commissioners are focusing on finding the right county facility footprint. This involves selling the executive plaza and consolidating into the county’s other structures, essentially trying to put more entities under one roof. It would also mean examining and evaluating the lease on the Sharwell Building (used by Children/Youth), completing the magistrate’s office on Lycoming Creek Road, and finding a new home for the coroner.

Public safety is also a concern. The commissioners will be looking at security at the six magistrate’s offices and endeavor to get the COVID vaccines out to the public through the UPMC and Geisinger partners. The prisons and courts are big expense areas, and the commissioners want to find ways to improve prevention programs and improve the quality of life there.

Speaking of quality of life, regional development in recreation such as the theater and golf course makes this area more attractive to new residents and new businesses, which is also a priority tied in with the economic development in the region. Already promising new industries are entering our area, which could help keep our college graduates become part of the local workforce.

Though these goals are broad-brushed, they are practical, keenly focused on county residents’ concerns for effective services that do not result in an overwhelming tax burden. And looking through them, it is so refreshing to hear officials deal with real issues rather than fretting that the ‘mister” in Mr. Potato Head is overly exclusive or that reading Dr. Seuss books should be banned because only two percent of his characters are people of color. When local, county, state, or national government entities make media hot button buzz words their priority, they do their constituents a great disservice. Society and environmental issues are certainly concerns that could be and should be discussed and debated, but making them priorities pushes the needs of the everyday working man and woman out of sight and out of mind.

In the real world, we live here in Lycoming County and the surrounding area; we want a fair, safe, and stable society that offers economic opportunities and a wholesome quality of life. With our county commissioners offering their list of practical priorities, they appear to be on the same track. And if we look back this time next year and see that major steps were taken in these areas to put them into practice, we could say that these priorities were “practically perfect.”

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