OSWEGO, NY Ã¢â‚¬â€œ I would like to begin my 2010 State of the County Address by saying, Thank You to the voters of Oswego County and to this legislative body.
I thank all the voters who voted last November provided us a legislature that will work together in a bi-partisan manner for the good of all our Oswego County residents and businesses.
I would like to thank this legislative body for the unanimous support you gave me to serve as your chairman for the 2010 year. I am honored and humbled by your support.
2010 will be a busy year.
We have many projects that we started last year and will continue through 2010.
Here are some highlights:
The Green Team:
We conducted energy audits on seven of the county’s facilities, including lighting, heating and ventilating systems, energy management systems and options for wind and solar power generation at various sites.
We received nearly $212,000 in state, federal and private sector grants to help pay for energy conservation and lighting system upgrades in six county facilities Ã¢â‚¬â€œ the Legislative Office Building in Oswego, Bunner Street Health Complex in Oswego, Oswego and Pulaski courthouses, the Buildings and Grounds Complex, and the buildings at Camp Hollis.
These improvements will generate estimated annual savings of more than 434,000 KWH or nearly 58,000 taxpayers’ dollars.
We expect to recoup the county’s investment in these improvements in less than two years.
These projects equate to a decrease of almost 150 tons of greenhouse gases each year.
The Highway Department is testing bio-diesel in its trucks and we are exploring grant opportunities for solar and wind power.
In January 2009, we implemented single-stream recycling.
Since that date, county residents have increased the amount of material being recycled by 65 percent; saving costly landfill space, reducing the amount of materials taken to ERF, and generating more revenue ($200,000 in 2009).
This offsets county property tax dollars.
A building at Bristol Hill Landfill was converted to a household hazardous waste processing facility.
This facility was a success and allowed us to serve 50 percent more costumers.
The facility was closed for the winter season, but will reopen again in May.
Our ferrous metal recovery system at the ERF began operating last winter.
This system removes metal from the incinerator ash. This allows us to conserve our landfill space and generates income ($120,000 last year) by selling the recovered material.
Let’s Move On To DSS
We made a decision last year to make the Oswego County Child Protective system into “the best child protective system in New York State.”
The department developed a plan for strengthening our Child Protective Services unit.
The plan was adopted by the entire legislature in July.
The process began immediately: we hired additional staff to correct our shortage of child protective workers.
New York State recognized the problem and provided $500,000 for the county to hire this staff.
This legislature approved a contract with the Center for Government Research to assist the county in developing a community advisory board for DSS.
We have met with CGR and are developing the board now.
Tentatively, it will consist of 15 members and be made up of, but not limited to, law enforcement professionals, medical services officials, parents, service providers and educational professionals.
You may think this project is moving slowly, but this WILL be done right! There is NO ROOM for error.
Also Affecting Our Oswego County Youth:
The Camp Hollis Task Force I appointed last year met over several months and issued its report.
They looked at many issues and reported back to the Health and Human Services Committee.
We will be addressing these priority issues during this year.
Assemblyman David Townsend provided a grant for a new playground that was installed at the Camp Zerbe Nature Park.
A big thank you goes out to Assemblyman Townsend for his dedication to our county and its youth.
Upon the recommendation of a temporary committee set up last year, the decision was made to reinstate the permanent Airport Advisory Council.
The Airport Advisory Council committee chairman is Jonathon Daniels, director of the Port of Oswego.
Chairman Daniels and his committee members are conducting an aggressive schedule of meetings and reviewing the entire operation of the airport.
I am encouraged by the enthusiasm and dedication of all the Airport Advisory Council committee members.
I expect a preliminary report of their findings will be made to the appropriate legislative committee in the near future.
Emergency And Fire Services:
System design and requirements were completed and our legislature approved a contract with Motorola for a new emergency communication system.
In December, this legislature approved a resolution to bond for the program.
Oswego County received a federal appropriation of $200,000 from Senator Gillibrand for this project.
We also thank her for her support.
The proposed New York State budget provides $50 million for counties for the development of inter-operable communications systems.
We are aggressively pursuing this and any other funding sources.
Fire Services continued to make repairs and improve the new Emergency Services Training Facility.
During 2009, several classes were held at this facility.
Several buildings and props have been repaired or upgraded to make the facility a state-of-the-art training center.
Through the hard work and dedication of this legislature, our employees and our management personnel we were able to provide Oswego County residents a 2010 budget with a zero percent tax increase.
In fact, the average county tax rate is $7.16 per $1,000 of assessed value, down from $7.18 in 2009.
The generic tax rate in Oswego County has stayed at $7.18 per $1,000 for the last six years and this year it was reduced.
This could not have been accomplished without this legislature’s conservative government practices and the cooperation of our employees and managers.
The 2011 budget is one that we will have to put together carefully.
We will have the new expense of paying debt on the radio system.
I expect we may have new revenue from two of the three nuclear power plants.
We are aware the economy and the state budget may impact us negatively Ã¢â‚¬â€œ but, by how much?
We just don’t know!
Oswego County is in good financial shape; we are one of only a few counties whose sales tax revenues were on budget in 2009.
We understand that we can’t control many of the external factors that impact us.
But, we can stay in good financial shape by making the right decisions.
We need to scrutinize our spending, find efficiencies and cut lower-priority budget lines.
This was done in the 2010 budget and we must continue this practice.
Our five-year plan to utilize savings (unappropriated fund balance) in a measured, consistent manner that stabilizes taxes and preserves services is on track and working.
We will continue this program.
Negotiations with Entergy Nuclear, and now Constellation, concerning their tax status are continuing.
Our goal is to ensure that the nuclear generators pay their fair share of taxes.
We are taking steps to protect our taxpayers by preserving our option of returning the plants to the tax roll if a fair tax agreement isn’t reached.
I plan to hold another municipal summit this year to discuss new ways for our local governments to work together to lower costs of services to our residents and businesses.
Government consolidation is just one of the many topics that we will discuss.
In closing I look forward to completing my promise to breathe life back into our county planning board.
I expected to complete this task last year. But, other priorities made this impossible.
I will complete the task this year.
Thank you for your understanding and attention.
God bless you all. Now it’s time to get back to work.