The County Executive makes it clear that innovation and change are the hallmarks of this administration and proclaims, “The state of the County is strong and getting stronger because it is built on a foundation of progress.”
Stone Ridge, NY –Ulster County Executive Mike Hein delivered his fifth annual State of the County Address at the beautiful SUNY Ulster campus to an audience filled with Ulster County residents and business owners, as well as state and local dignitaries. The County Executive began his Address by highlighting many of the innovative programs and proposals that have become a hallmark of the Hein administration. The County Executive said, “The choice must not be between being fiscally responsible or socially responsible. By utilizing innovation and change we can do both.” Issues that have troubled Ulster County Government for decades that have been addressed, include:
- Creating a statewide model for transitioning the Golden Hill Health Care Center and averting the potential for closure;
- Resolving the Safety Net controversy, which delivered $1.7 million of taxpayer relief this year alone to the residents of the County’s towns and the City of Kingston;
- Providing an honest solution to the $23 million bonding debt incurred by the RRA in the past and saving millions in taxpayer subsidy each year;
- Streamlining economic development by establishing the new Office of Business Services to cut through bureaucracy and to serve Ulster County’s entrepreneurs at the speed of business;
- Launching the S.T.R.I.V.E. Project, which will allow Ulster County to improve access to higher education, improve the delivery of health and human services by centralizing operations and placing valuable County-owned property back onto the tax rolls;
- Rebuilding county infrastructure damaged in Hurricane Irene ahead of schedule and under budget; and
- Establishing an emergency operations center “EOC” that was effectively utilized during Superstorm Sandy.
County Executive Hein said, “Large portions of County government have been transformed and challenges that some said were impossible have been overcome. What I find most gratifying is the fact that we have successfully tackled major challenges while still providing more services to those in need then ever before. We have accomplished much, all while simultaneously recovering from the worst natural disaster in our history- Hurricane Irene.” Throughout the speech, County Executive Hein recognized the dedication of Ulster County’s workforce. Among the recognitions were Department of Social Services (DSS) Commissioner Michael Iapoce, Deputy Commissioner Barbara Sorkin and their team’s effort in the creation of the Family and Child Advocacy Center. Ulster County Emergency Communications/Emergency Management Director, Arthur Snyder and County Attorney Beatrice Havranek and her staff were recognized for their tireless efforts helping the residents of Wawarsing who have suffered nightmare flooding issues. The County Executive also acknowledged the exemplary work done by all Ulster County employees in recovering from the devastation caused by Hurricane Irene. County Executive Hein acknowledged that some of the most important issues still facing Ulster County require policy decisions that must be addressed by the Ulster County Legislature. He implored legislators, on both sides of the aisle, to take action by:
- Adopting a long term and fiscally responsible policy surrounding solid waste issues facing Ulster County;
- Forming a Special Law Enforcement Sustainability Commission to examine the best way to ensure long term, sustainable police protection in our community;
- Calling for an increase to State and Federal funding levels for mental health services; and
- Working with the County Executive to create a world class interconnected rail trail system, which will become a one-of-a-kind tourist attraction linking the highly popular Walkway over the Hudson with the beautiful Ashokan Reservoir.
The County Executive’s goals for 2013 include progressing with the Rail Trail project; implementing his aggressive DSS Anti-Fraud, Waste and Abuse Initiative; opening new transitional housing for homeless veterans; implementing the S.T.R.I.V.E. Project and maintaining the fiscal discipline needed to protect taxpayers, while ensuring the continued delivery of essential services and caring for those most in need. County Executive Hein highlighted his partnership with fellow County Executives from Orange and Dutchess counties to garner from Central Hudson an enhanced $5 million economic development fund, designed to support local projects within the 3-county region and a 12 month rate freeze that helps businesses and residents alike. County Executive Hein also applauded Governor Cuomo for the inclusion of $2 million in this year’s proposed State Budget to jumpstart the County Executive’s rail trail project. These funds demonstrate the Governor’s commitment to building a strong upstate economy, increasing jobs and promoting the region’s tourism efforts. County Executive Hein announced that in partnership with the District Attorney, he is launching an aggressive and comprehensive DSS Anti-Fraud, Waste and Abuse Initiative to crack down on those who are committing welfare fraud. This initiative will be largely paid for with restitution funds that the County received from the highly publicized Sunoco Food Stamp fraud arrests in Kingston. County Executive Hein said, “We are glad to provide assistance for individuals and families in need of help with compassion and respect, but with this new Anti-Fraud, Waste and Abuse Initiative, we are saying to anyone in Ulster County who would abuse the system or defraud Ulster County taxpayers: if we catch you, we will prosecute you, and if you try to abuse the system, your scheme just got an awful lot harder.” County Executive Hein proclaimed that Ulster County is the kind of place where the impossible becomes possible and he called upon all County residents to join him in building a better Ulster County. He concluded, “The State of Ulster County is strong and getting stronger because it is built on a foundation of progress.” State of the County documents