The Putnam Examiner

Odell ‘Makes The Connection’ at State of County Address

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Estimated savings and the consolidation of Putnam‘s services were what County Executive MaryEllen Odell said epitomized her first year in office during her State of the County address at the Bureau of Emergency Services in Carmel last Thursday night.

“Our message in 2012 was managing our assets and optimizing our resources,” Odell said to a standing-room-only crowd. “We stayed true to that message, we put a plan in place and we defined them by presenting resolutions to the legislature for their support.”

County Executive MaryEllen Odell speaks to a standing-room-only crowd during her State of the County address last Thursday.
County Executive MaryEllen Odell speaks to a standing-room-only crowd during her State of the County address last Thursday.

Since embarking on projects like merging the mental health and youth bureaus with the Department of Social Services, cutting $900,000-worth of overtime for county employees and downsizing the Coroner’s Office, Odell said she hoped to make 2013 about the future of Putnam, which is why she branded her county address with the phrase “Making The Connection.”

“The connections of county government to state government, county government to the federal government, Putnam County Tourism to our business leaders and our chambers of commerce, Economic Development Corporation to the Putnam Planning Department,” Odell said. “The east coast of Putnam connecting to the west coast of Putnam, the private-public partnership, and of course the ultimate connection, county government to the people.”

According to Odell, this future and these connections ultimately rely on the fiscal health of the county in light of “unfunded mandates,” the 2-percent tax cap and medicaid contributions by local governments. Putnam’s economic engine is fueled by the sales tax rate, which currently stands at 8.375 percent and comprises 37 percent of the county’s revenue. Though it’s among the highest in the state, Odell endorsed the 4 percent extension granted by the governor’s office that’s set to expire on Nov. 30.

To take complete advantage of the sales tax, Odell encouraged the growth of Putnam’s tourism department through an international cycling race, the renovation of Putnam National Golf Club and improving the county’s transportation via a taskforce led by former legislator Vincent Tamanga.

Residents, however, can count on a tax-free holiday from August 16 to the 25 for qualified clothing and footwear. The holiday coincides with back-to-school shopping for most families.

“It helps the moms and the days trying to outfit their kids for back to school,” Odell said. “As a parent, I know that it’s probably $1,000 to get your kids wardrobes, your footwear, calculators, books, pens and pencils.”

With limited funding coming from New York State, Odell also announced the appointment of Meghan Taylor as the full-time Economic Development Corporation president. This is a result of Gov. Andrew Cuomo awarding funds on regional basis rather directly to municipalities.

“2013, the year we start making the connections and planning for the future,” Odell said.

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