Dutchess County Executive Marcus J. Molinaro presented his 2019 State of the County Address on Wednesday, February 27, at The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park to more than 500 residents, business and nonprofit leaders, as well as local and state officials. The day before, Standard & Poor’s endorsed the County’s fiscal management by reaffirming the County’s AA+ bond rating. That fiscal stability has enabled the County Government to deliver tax relief to residents and businesses, with five consecutive years of property tax levy reductions, and focus on work and initiatives to combat community challenges and enhance programs, services, and facilities to ensure a strong future with improved quality of life for all.
“Together, we have built a better and truly unique County with a solid fiscal foundation, dynamic economy, strong social connections, and solution-driven government,” said County Executive Molinaro. “Our County today is stronger than ever, not free of challenges, but more able to overcome them. Who we are today pales in comparison to who we can be tomorrow if we choose to be optimists. We are not perfect, but we are energetic ‘triers,’ defined by our willingness and eagerness to strive and toil for a better and brighter tomorrow.”
Included among the initiatives highlighted in the State of the County Address:
Smart investment in County infrastructure to better serve county residents and prepare for a strong future, including road and bridge construction, the newly opened Law Enforcement Center and final design phase of the Justice and Transition Center, improvements to Hudson Valley Regional Airport, new office spaces for Department of Planning & Development as well as the Office of the Public Defender. Other investments include the recently opened Office for the Aging facility, featuring a new Senior Friendship Center, as well as upcoming improvements to the Farm & Home Center and a new Emergency Training Center for emergency first responders.
Continuing to combat the opioid epidemic through the County’s “Breaking Through” initiative to reduce stigma, provide treatment and support and restore hope. Among Dutchess County’s efforts are increasing access to information and strengthening capacity for real-time response with a $1 million grant secured from the United States Department of Justice; expanding Medication Assisted Treatment at the County Jail, Stabilization Center and through private medical providers; working with pharmacies as initial points of contact to eliminate stigma; continued expansion of Narcan training availability as well as maximizing County resources including the 24/7 Stabilization Center, HELPLINE, recovery coaches and other resources.
Dutchess County’s call to ThinkDIFFERENTLY has been widely embraced, and efforts to ensure inclusivity for people of all abilities will continue to be one of the County’s most important priorities. Among the efforts highlighted by the County Executive were the ThinkAhead partnership with Dutchess Community College, from which the first class will graduate this May; Village of Rhinebeck’s partnership with Anderson Center for Autism to become an Autism Supportive Community; and the Special Olympics New York Summer Games coming to Dutchess County for the first time in June.
Historic expansion of Dutchess County Parks will be underway in 2019 as the County seeks to acquire new parkland for the Lake Walton Preserve in partnership with Scenic Hudson; explore a parallel trail line and shuttle service in the City of Beacon; and expand the Dutchess Rail Trail network with an urban trail system in the City of Poughkeepsie. Additionally, 2019 brings improvements at Dutchess Stadium and Quiet Cove Riverfront Park, all in conjunction with the new Comprehensive Parks Plan.
The County Executive also highlighted the work of the Th!nk Dutchess Alliance for Business, as well as Dutchess Tourism, Inc., for helping to add to the strong economy, with the lowest unemployment rate in 17 years and 15 consecutive months of private-sector job growth. Throughout Dutchess County, there are $2.9 billion in major investments for projects currently underway and $1.2 billion more in development, adding to the County’s tax base and expanding job opportunities. Tourism also continues to be an economic powerhouse with more than $600 million in visitor spending in 2017 and nearly 5 million total visitors.
Additionally, the Th!nk Dutchess Alliance for Business is focused on creating a more skilled workforce and expanding job opportunities with a multitude of efforts, including using grant dollars to expand summer youth job programs, construction of Dutchess Community College’s (DCC) education hangar at the Hudson Valley Regional Airport, and relocation of DCC’s southern campus to the former Dutchess Mall, where there is opportunity to partner with the Council of Industry to co-locate its headquarters and create a regional workforce training center.
County Executive Molinaro’s full 2019 State of the County Address is available online at DutchessNY.gov. Citizens will have the opportunity to participate in conversations about the 2019 State of the County at town hall forums to be held over the next several weeks:
Pleasant Valley Fire Department (1619 Main Street, Pleasant Valley) on March 28 at 6:00 p.m., including the “County Government on the Road” Information Fair starting at 5:00 p.m.
Pine Plains Community Center (7775 South Main Street, Pine Plains) on April 3 at 6:00 p.m.
East Fishkill Town Hall (330 Route 376, Hopewell Junction) on April 18 at 6:00 p.m.