Tuesday, November 11, 2014

E-town area's elected officials work together to find common ground

Ever since I was elected to Elizabethtown Borough Council, the elected officials from the municipalities in the Elizabethtown area -- Conoy Township, Elizabethtown Borough, Mount Joy Township and West Donegal Township -- have tried to get together to discuss and solve issues that affect the region.

So a few years ago, when all of the municipalities approved a comprehensive plan for the region, we decided to establish the Elizabethtown Area Regional Authority (EARA) as a way to implement the plan. And that worked pretty well, fostering discussions about traffic, economic development and land use in the area and how they impact all the municipalities.

In forming EARA, though, one thing we didn't anticipate was an annual audit that is required of all public agencies. EARA has a budget of less than $10,000, and every year we would spend several thousand dollars on an audit for an organzation that really didn't have any financial activity to speak of. For the past two or three years, all we did was grumble about the expense, but we had no way around the audit because it was legally required.

But then a few months ago, the staff from the municipalities put their heads together and came up with several options that would help the Elizabethown region implement the comprehensive plan and avoid the expense of the audit. One of those was to disband EARA and then hold regular meetings -- about four times a year -- with the regional elected officials to discuss and implement the plan.

Late last month, Borough Council and the supervisors from all of the townships met and unanimously approved the plan to disband EARA, with the plan to meet regularly four times a year. Generally, those meetings are held in months where there's a fifth Thursday.

Over the years, the regional elected officials meetings have helped all of us get to know our neighbors better, and they have helped us forge a cooperative spirit in the best interest of the Elizabethtown area.

Having worked as a newspaper reporter covering other regions, often the elected officials can be territorial and parochial and don't seem to have a cooperative bone in their bodies. But that's not the case here in Elizabethtown. Yes, our municipalities have different ideas and interests sometimes, and we all have differing opinions (even within our own boards). And by working through the differences, I am optimistic that we can find a path so we can all achieve the same goal of making E-town an even better community.

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