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Municipal leaders from across the county turned out for a recent Putnam County Legislature committee meeting to ask legislators to consider County Executive MaryEllen Odell’s proposal to give the towns and villages $10 million from the county’s sales tax revenue and American Rescue Plan funding.
“This is unprecedented,” Putnam County Legislature Chairman Neal Sullivan said at the Rules Committee meeting in June. “I know towns have been asking us to share the sales tax for a long time and it’s really great that the county is now in a position to discuss it and consider it. We’ve never been able to do that before.”
Odell proposed that $5 million in county sales tax funding be allocated to Putnam’s six towns and three villages for local infrastructure projects. She also recommended that an additional $5 million of the county’s $19.1 million American Rescue Plan Funding go to the municipalities.
“The county’s strong financial position has allowed us to invest in the future, including a new ‘Share the Growth’ plan, in which the county will increase the amount of the sales tax it shares with the municipalities based on the county’s sales tax revenue growth,” Odell said.
The county’s ARPA allocation will be used to make infrastructure improvements throughout Putnam County and to aid in the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. The infrastructure improvements focus on school safety, mental health and substance abuse, food insecurity, clean water, sewer, roads and bridges, and buildings. The Legislature will vote on the entire package at its regular meeting on July 5.
Putnam Valley Supervisor Jacqueline Annabi said that, if approved, her town would use the money for projects involving the lakes, potable water and sewage.
“These were projects we had to do but we just didn’t have the money,” Annabi said. “Thank you guys so much. The people of Putnam Valley really appreciate it.”
Town of Carmel Councilwoman Suzanne McDonough said her town would also be grateful for the funding.
“The Town of Carmel really appreciates it,” McDonough said. “And as a resident and taxpayer of Carmel, I want to thank you very much.”
Odell and her administration worked on the “Share the Growth” plan with Town of Philipstown Councilman Jason Angell and Village of Cold Spring Trustee Eliza Starbuck.
Angell praised the plan when Odell first proposed it at her annual State of the County address in March.
“This new approach focuses on the growth in sales taxes and represents a partnership between the county and local governments,” Angell said. “This is a legacy accomplishment for Putnam County to share taxes in the growth years and build an economy where everyone benefits.”
Despite the enthusiasm, there were questions from some Legislators. Legislator Paul Jonke called it a “giveaway” and said the Legislature would need more time to consider the proposal.
“I’ve used the term ‘reckless’ in the past and I was told it was too harsh a word,” Jonke said. “This is reckless.”
Odell said time is of the essence. “Fuel and food costs and inflation will only increase the costs of these projects if we delay the process, which could have a detrimental and negative impact on many of these projects, programs and initiatives,” she said.
The projects awarded include:
School Safety – $2M
The County will create a “team up for school safety” effort in which Sheriff Kevin J. McConville and Commissioner of Social Services and Mental Health Michael J. Piazza, Jr. will work with school district superintendents Countywide to identify enhancements to help ensure the safety of students and staff.
Public Safety Software – $1.5M
The County will purchase a new Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD)/Records Management/Jail Management System. This technology will improve the ability of our first responder community to communicate and coordinate more efficiently and effectively, thereby enhancing public safety.
Police, Fire & EMS Subscriber Radios – $2,5M
The County will purchase subscriber radios for first responder agencies as a part of the Putnam County Radio project. This new interoperable communications system will allow the first responder community to respond to emergencies more effectively throughout the County.
County Highway Infrastructure & Equipment – $5,012,507
The County will allocate $600,000 to highway equipment purchases and $4,412,507 to various road and bridge repairs throughout the County. The use of ARPA funds will enable the County to avoid borrowing $ 5 million to complete these projects, thereby continuing the successful debt reduction plan executed over the past 11+ years.
Putnam County Crisis Stabilization Center – $2.5M
The County will partner with People USA to create a 24/7 community crisis hub, a place where people of all ages can connect immediately with an array of health care professionals and providers to address mental health, addiction, and or social determinant health needs. ARPA funds will finance two years of expenditures.
Mobile Food Pantry Program – $130,000
The County will partner with Putnam CAP to create a mobile food pantry program within Putnam County. Funds would be used to purchase a vehicle and fund an outreach worker to assist volunteers and delivering the food and educate recipients on other services that they may be eligible to receive.
Food Pantry Refrigeration Units – $25,000
The County will provide funding to Second Chance Foods to expand on site cold storage at their food pantry to enable them to serve more clients.
Town & Village Infrastructure Projects – $5M
The County will provide $5 million ARPA funding, combined with $5 million in sales tax funding to the six towns and three villages in Putnam County to perform vital infrastructure projects relating to water and sewer, food insecurity, roads, bridges, and buildings throughout Putnam County. These projects were vetted and approved by members of the Putnam County Legislature whose districts they represent.
Administrative Expenses – $30,000
The County will allocate $30,000 for various consultant services required in the administration of the ARPA program.
Rick has more than 40 years’ experience covering local news in Westchester and Putnam counties, running the gamut from politics and crime to sports and human interest. He has been an editor at Examiner Media since 2012. Read more from Rick’s editor-author bio here. Read Rick’s work here: https://www.theexaminernews.com/author/pezzullo_rick-writer/