Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell stressed school safety, smart financing and county development last week in her annual State of the County speech.
During Odell's seventh State of the County address, which was held at Putnam County Golf Course on March 15, the Republican proclaimed that Putnam County is moving in the right direction, highlighted by dramatic cuts in county debt, stable tax rates and key infrastructure investments.
The investments include along the Route 6 corridor and construction of a new senior center in Cold Spring and the renovation of a senior center in Carmel.
Odell's speech began with praise for county workers, first responders and volunteers who worked together in the recovery efforts following this month's major nor’easter storms.
“The two-fisted winter storm punches that we received over the last two weeks showed the fierce dedication of our volunteers and first responders,” Odell said. “Highway workers, police, fire, EMS and the many, many, volunteers and public servants that responded ensured that our residents were protected. That’s what we do in Putnam County. We all pull together during times of adversity.”
The storms caused more than 25,000 homes and businesses to lose their electricity. Odell thanked the organizations that set up comfort stations, overnight shelters and hot meals for those suffering without power.
She officially declared 2018 the Year of the Volunteer in Putnam County to show her appreciation.
Odell said that in addition to introducing budgets that are under the tax cap, the total debt summary of the county has decreased by $30 million or 29 percent, since she took office in 2011.
Putnam County also continues to have the lowest tax bill of any of the 62 counties in New York state, while maintaining its Aa2 Moody’s bond rating.
“We have been able to do this without major layoffs or tax hikes,” Odell said.
Odell's 90-minute address included references to school gun violence and the utility companies' delayed response to recent winter storms.
Odell is running for a final term in office this year. Kent Supervisor Maureen Fleming, a Democrat, previously announced a bid to oust Odell, as reported here by Daily Voice.
Odell said school safety will remain one of her top priorities, especially in light of the mass shooting that in south Florida last month.
Odell plans to fund a "school resource officer" program like one that halted a shooting in Maryland earlier this month.
Nine Putnam County Sheriff's deputies are dedicated to school systems throughout the county, which Odell said is critical since the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012. The county program costs $1.35 million annually.
“One child’s life, you cannot put a price on," Odell said.
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