ISSUES - Elect Laura Burke County Commissioner
My position on key issues is influenced by my personal life experiences as a former county employee, resident for 13 years, and attorney living and working in this county.
We need to plan now for how we can make the necessary task of reassessing more fair for residents. This should be a combined effort between changes we can make at the county level to make sure our next reassessment is more efficient and more accurate and lobbying our state government for laws that can help us make the process better.
We have taken great strides toward improving our budgeting process and addressing our underfunded pension. We need to continue that work and develop a long term plan for paying the pension. At the same time we must address the problems of our underpaid employees so that we can attract and retain qualified workers.
The prison is an on-going source of budgetary issues and sparks litigation and other costly problems. We have a duty to ensure that the prison is a safe place to work for its employees and that we are safeguarding inmates' constitutional rights.
The proposal to move toward Home Rule in Blair County is worthy of research and consideration, however, I am not convinced that it is a smart move for our county. First, I believe that Home Rule will be more expensive in terms of the number of paid positions in County government. Second, I do not believe electing a panel of commissioners "at large" from the entire county will result in adequate representation. I believe that if Home Rule is to be on the ballot it should get there through the petitioning process and not by vote of the Commissioners.
The best resource the county has is the people working for us. We need to make sure our county employees have an incentive to stay and an incentive to do their jobs well. When we do not pay them wages that meet industry standards we have high turnover which decreases productivity and increases costs. As one of the larger employees in this area, the County can lead the way in making Blair County a better place to live both for its employees and the community in general.