While driving Route 19 the other day a roadside sign appeared stating, “VOTE NO TO HOME RULE” at the polls on Nov. 2. This gave me pause to wonder if I was having a Rip Van Wrinkle moment and was waking up seven months later in time for the 2022 primary election. Actually, the sign should have read, “VOTE NO ON NOVEMBER 2 TO FORMING A STUDY COMMISSION TO IDENTIFY POTENTIAL WAYS TO IMPROVE THE EFFICIENCY AND EFFECTIVENESS OF HOW WASHINGTON COUNTY GOVERNMENT OPERATES.” Imploring people to just vote no to a fabrication that home rule would be imposed is reckless and irresponsible.

The core reason why government operates at any level is to provide essential services and generally improve the quality of life for residents. To do this requires various sources of revenue and systems in place to deliver those services. Washington County, composed of 861 square miles, serves 206,539 residents through 37 departments with an annual budget of $104,077,015, of which $42,141,209 are collected directly thorough taxes paid by residents and businesses. Delivering those services and prudently managing resources to pay for the right things to happen requires a complex and dynamic operation with many moving parts. Therefore, it is imperative to have systems in place to continually monitor operational efficiency and effectiveness at a tactical level and, as with the establishment of the Government Study Commission, take a strategic look at whether there are opportunities to improve the general structure.

In trying to grasp why there is opposition to establishment of a study commission to simply identify potential ways, to again, improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the way in which Washington County government operates, may lead one to conclude that there may be an underlying threat to personal self-interests if things were to change. It must be remembered that there will be no inherent change in Washington County operations as a result of the study commission composed of the 11 individuals selected by the voters on Nov. 2 who will be volunteering their time and talents. Only the voters will determine if any changes occur, should the commission make a recommendation following its research and consensus.

Dennis Urso