Hard hit, but still standing. That's how Oneida County's executive describes the county after several rough economic years. Our Sarah Blazonis was there as Anthony Picente delivered his fifth State of the County address Thursday. She tells us why he has an optimistic outlook on the county's future.
UTICA, N.Y. -- When times get tough, it's time for government to get smart. That was the message from Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente during his fifth annual State of the County address.
"I can tell you in great detail about all the obstacles in our way, but I don't work that way. Barriers exist and we overcome them by doing the hard, in-the-trenches work that gets us past the barriers," Picente told the audience at the Utica Radisson.
Picente says local departments are doing their part to help save the county money. He applauded the DA's Office, which collected $145,000 in unpaid fines, as well as the expected consolidation of Utica and Oneida County's 911 centers and increased cell phone fees to pay for that service. It's a step municipal leaders agree is necessary.
"We worked long and hard on that plan to make sure the level of services did not diminish," said Utica Mayor David Roefaro. "I truly feel that if we're going to cut the cost of government, like the county executive says, consolidation is necessary."
Also necessary: Relief from unfunded government mandates. Picente says it's a step lawmakers in Albany need to take before imposing at two percent property tax cap.
"We can make those real reforms easy for them if you allow us to talk about and give you specific examples of how Medicaid can be reduced on the county level, how public assistance cases can be reduced," Picente said.
The county executive pledged to continue fighting for local economic opportunities, from Griffiss International Airport to the agriculture industry, and says the county will continue facing challenges head-on.
Watch the State of the County Address
CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Oneida County State of the County
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