I marked my 100th day as your County Executive on April 10th by sitting down to speak with a local news station between meetings with my staff and delivering the welcome address at Orange County’s Human Rights Commission dinner. The interview gave me the opportunity to size up what we’ve been able to achieve as a county working together as well as focus on the challenges that lie ahead. I am happy to report that Orange County is on a roll attracting new job opportunities following the long recovery from the Great Recession. In my first 100 days, this administration has been able to secure economic development agreements with companies such as Amy’s Kitchen, Coach USA, Continental Organics, Kikkerfrosch, Pratt & Whitney, and Crystal Run Healthcare. Taken together, the opening or expansion of these entities will mean hundreds of new jobs and millions of dollars in new capital investment, keeping us well on pace to exceed my "1,000 jobs in a 1,000 days" pledge. As I explained in my State of the County address on March 18th, Orange County is a community open for business.
My State of the County speech also laid out a vision for repairing and enhancing our county’s infrastructure. The Government Center, our roads and bridges, and the Harriman Wastewater Treatment Plant all need upgrades. The health of our bridges and roads is essential to public safety, travel, and economic growth in Orange County. On March 26th I announced the first positive steps forward following the devastation of Hurricane Irene. Both the Forge Hill and the Scotchtown Avenue bridges will receive funding from federal, state, and county sources and construction is expected to be completed by next year. The Scotchtown Avenue Bridge over the Wallkill River includes County Route 83 in the towns of Wallkill and Hamptonburgh. The span-replacement project is being developed through the Federal Highway Authority’s Transportation Improvement Program and is projected to be completed by December 2015. The Forge Hill Bridge over Moodna Creek was shuttered in August 2011 as a result of flood damage sustained from Hurricane Irene. The New Windsor bridge is critical for commuters attempting to travel from State Route 94 to State Route 9W. Following a Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) review, Forge Hill Bridge’s reconstruction and extension will transform it from a two-span bridge to a three-span structure.
Throughout the state budget process, Governor Cuomo and others have remained focused on addressing the number one priority of Orange County residents: lowering property taxes. By working with the governor’s team, the adopted 2014-2015 budget will continue to encourage local governments to share services and pass the savings to the taxpayers. That’s a positive sign. My administration also fought for and won a tax exemption for Hudson Valley manufacturers. According to Forbes, this is the first time since 1917 that manufacturers here will not be obliged to pay the corporate-income tax. The overall rate for non-manufacturers also fell from 7.1 percent to 6.5 percent, another piece of good news for businesses hoping to settle or expand here.
My administration has also marked its first 100 days with a new and robust crime-stopping push. In my first month in office, new collaboration between the district attorney’s office and the county sheriff led to the arrest of nearly two dozen in drug arrests targeting those trafficking heroin, cocaine, oxycodone, and guns. Less than two months later, 20 more defendants charged with selling or possessing narcotics. We’ve had unprecedented cooperation among our law enforcement personnel, and the results speak for themselves. Next month I will join members of Albany’s Senate Task Force on Heroin and Opioid Addiction for a wide-ranging panel discussion on how to reduce addiction rates in Orange County and promote safer communities in our major cities. By combining enforcement with greater information for the public and treatment options for certain individuals, we can end the deadly cycle of drug addiction and narcotics trafficking in Orange County.
In the coming weeks and months I will be making announcements focused on reducing the cost of county purchasing, hosting a countywide healthcare symposium, developing an app for young people and veterans devoted to suicide prevention, renovating and re-opening the government center in Goshen, and presenting a multiyear budget plan so the county can stabilize its finances and invest for the future. I will also be continuing the close collaboration with my Team Orange partners Sheriff Carl Dubois, DA Hoovler, and County Clerk Annie Rabbitt. We have significant challenges ahead of us, as I have consistently and publicly pointed out. If the first 100 days of this administration are any guide, however, I am confident these obstacles will be turned into more opportunities for a community open for business.