County Commission | The Magazine August 2018 - Page 15

FROM THE COVER q PAST, PRESENT & FUTURE: ANNUAL CONVENTION r #67Celebrate90 is year’s biggest event A CCA’s Annual Convention is always a special time of year. It’s a time when all of county government comes together to learn and share the latest, most pertinent knowledge impacting counties — knowledge that will enhance county operations and leadership in each individual county and all 67 counties — knowledge that, when applied collectively, will enhance county government’s critical impact on this great state and all who call it home. This year is extra special because it is the 90th Anniversary of this gathering. Participants will find not just an outstanding convention but also a celebration. In honor of this milestone, the theme this year is “Where county government has been, where we are and where we’re going.” The first annual meeting drew commissioners from 52 counties to Montgomery back in 1929, and they left a transcript giving a snapshot of county government at that moment. They discussed the issues of the day – road funding, local legislation, rising expenses for local law enforcement – and their limited options to address them. “If we didn’t have these common problems to solve, you wouldn’t have gathered here today,” said Harry Culverhouse of Jefferson County to his assembled colleagues. His listeners agreed they were more likely to succeed at solving these problems if they worked together, and they decided to establish this Association. That step was just the beginning, as Culverhouse put it: “No organization and no work and no great good has ever been accomplished without work.” At the time, state lawmakers only met in Regular Session every two years, and one of the new group’s first actions was forming a Legislative Committee because counties had been getting beaten up in the Alabama Legislature. “You have seen laws passed over which you had no control, appropriating your revenue without your having a voice in them,” Culverhouse said. “I think in my county, about 65 percent of the revenues are appropriated by laws passed before we have a voice in saying where they should be spent.” By the Association’s silver anniversary, county leaders had something to celebrate. “County government has been strengthened in Alabama because of the coordinated effort of the county commissioners’ group,” opined The Birmingham News in 1953. “There is reason to hope for still further improvement. “But there are many problems ahead of the county commissioners. The question of the best relations between the state and county governments will always be with us.” Jumping ahead to 2018, ACCA is marking the 90th – or emerald – anniversary of the annual convention. County governments have risen to many new challenges, and their Association – the #OneVoice – is growing in strength and influence. The work to protect and enhance county government is bolstered by affiliate groups for administrators, emergency managers, engineers, revenue officers and 9-1-1 district personnel. And member services have expanded beyond legislative advocacy to include insurance, education programs, debt collection and joint bidding, as well as representing commission interests with organizations of other elected county officials. n COUNTY COMMISSION | 15