There are challenges ahead, but a collaborative county government works to the benefit of all
By Ryan Costello, Chester County Commissioner
The recent political landscape has, understandably, left many less than favorably impressed.
I believe your Chester County government, however, has proven to be an excellent example of collaborative, productive government working in the best interests of taxpayers and families. Make no mistake, it has been challenging given the economic circumstances confronting Chester County (as with all county governments); but my experience over the past two years has been rewarding on account of the “teammates” I’ve had the pleasure of working with in county government, all of whom make it a top priority to provide critical services and resources to Chester Countians.
For 2013, providing high-quality services and maintaining key strategic partnerships, ranging from mental health advocacy organizations to the Chester County Economic Development Council, will remain top priorities.
For Chester County in 2013, these items are also on the radar:
1. We will award a $40-$50 million contract for a new 9-1-1 radio system. A Task Force comprised of law enforcement, emergency responders, fire and municipal officials, along with a technical consultant, have been instrumental throughout the RFP and review process. This capital project is the single-most significant decision any Commissioners’ Board ever makes — a thorough, transparent process will yield a decision very shortly, after three years of preparation and process.
2. Chester County was accepted by the Commonwealth as one of only 20 counties to participate in the Human Services Block Grant Program for 2013. Through the block grant process, we will endeavor to provide human services to those entitled, or those in need, with the same high quality care and professionalism for which our Human Services Department has historically been recognized for – indeed we will be meeting with Harrisburg officials in the coming weeks to ensure Chester County can prove to be an exemplary model for other counties to emulate.
3. In an effort to take County government to its citizens, I’m hopeful we will have four to eight County Commissioner meetings in different regions of the County. By spotlighting individuals and organizations making a difference in their communities, Chester County government can both highlight that we are a special place precisely because of our people, and also tell our story of why Chester County government enhances your quality of life in so many ways.
4. The County Commissioners will aim to establish an economic development strategy plan, focusing on: What regions of Chester County are ripe for new employment opportunities? What job sectors? Are we doing everything we can in workforce development and job (re-)training, to keep our employers and also recruit other employers here? Are there infrastructure improvements needed, be they transportation systems or water/sewer? What macro-economic and micro-economic trends pose threats to our local economies? What competitive advantages does Chester County have, and are we maximizing them? These questions and others will form the basis for a plan.
There are of course many other important projects, people, and places that make Chester County special. Your County Government aims to be a productive partner in providing you a safe, healthy living environment, with access to recreational opportunities in our parks and trails, free educational opportunities at our library system, with a stable but low tax rate for the myriad of services we provide. We’ll endeavor to keep doing so, and are grateful for your spirit and contribution to Chester County through the years past, and in those to come.