What a year. I made the decision to run another term on Sept. 29, 2019. I had been asked since the previous spring if I would run again and I told people then that I would decide on Sept. 29. It was my Dad’s birthday. Little did I know, it would be his last as I lost him this past April. Our county and our nation have weathered an unprecedented storm. A storm of anger, sickness, death, fear and resentment. A world where you had to search for compassion, understanding, agreement or love. Only by the grace of God are we still solvent and sovereign. And yet, even through all this, there are some bright spots for our county and I’d like to take a moment to review them. Our public works department has done an outstanding job at keeping our buildings, roads, public vehicles and waste centers functioning. We’ve battled COVID, tornadoes, overuse, and undermanned conditions to give the very best service for the price paid. We’ve made great gains in maintaining our buildings and facilities, working to be more energy efficient and proactive in our approach. We’ve added much-needed equipment to better handle the demands of road upkeep and waste management. This improvement will continue as we strive to reduce energy and utility costs and make innovative cost saving ideas.
Our tax assessors and tax commissioners office continue to do the thankless job of evaluations and collections to keep our county operating within the guidelines set by the state. The building, zoning, and code enforcement departments are undergoing needed change, realignment and updating to provide some consistency and enforceability in how our properties are maintained. But care must be taken to avoid the “one size fits all” mentality with regard to property ownership and use. The balance of a certain standard of consistency with keeping government out of our back yards is difficult. Citizens respect for each other’s property rights will make government intervention less necessary, which is what we all should aspire to. Public safety has the best leadership I’ve encountered in my four years as commissioner. It takes a little time to build a team but I have confidence that the sheriff and fire/EMS chief are well on their way. COVID has certainly challenged their resolve this year.
Rec, library, and conference center have had to endure reduced services this year for safety and health reasons but I am sure as we move forward that they will be able to open back up and return those services to us.
Animal control continues to improve with strong staff and leadership.
Administration including management, IT, human resources, finance, public information and purchasing continue to hold the bar high. Look for cost-saving improvements, strong finance controls, strategic investments, and increased public reports and transparency from this group in 2021.
Public water expansion has been a huge undertaking this year with the Juliette project. The unprecedented expansion will continue through 2021. Look for this service expansion along with expanded internet coverage to increase land development in these areas. Local broadband, although not a service or department, is a strong priority. It is a complex and expensive service. Facilitating and encouraging expansion through private providers is our goal. We are working on a viable and affordable solution. Hopefully, we can make an announcement soon. The commissioners today are probably the most junior group we have had in 30 years. We will continue to introduce new ideas. Some will be good ones while some will be unpopular. Some will be implemented while others will be modified, tabled, or rejected. I encourage each of you to follow our Facebook page and website as well as attend meetings to become better informed. Don’t take a Facebook post or a news report for a fact. They often incite anger or fear to gain attention or sell subscriptions. Be involved. Be informed. It’s your county, your money. Question of the day. Term limits for commissioners? Yes or no? Read the Facebook article on the Monroe county commissioners page and comment. I’d like to know what you think.
Eddie Rowland is a Monroe County commissioner from District 2. Email him at ERowland@monroecoga.org.