UTICA — Fiscal responsibility was the main message Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente, Jr. shared when he delivered his State of the County Address March 6 at the Radisson Hotel-Utica Centre.
“When I first appeared before you as your county executive, I laid out for you a vision that we have implemented year by year — to build a region of innovation, to develop a culture of transformation, and to establish a rock-solid fiscal foundation without which no plan can succeed,” Picente said, according to a news release his office provided. “We are on course, and I am very proud to tell you that, based on the projected numbers we are seeing today, Oneida County will end 2011 under budget, which will mean that in every year of administration, we have achieved an operating surplus while providing critical services to the people of Oneida County. That’s five consecutive years of sound fiscal stewardship and strong management oversight that ensures the fiscal stability of this county and allows us to look at the needs of our communities and our region from a position of strength.”
Picente noted that the county is not borrowing money to run its operations or running a deficit, in spite of increasing mandates that use up more of the county’s available dollars.
In fact, those continued rising costs mean the county needs to stay the course on keeping a tight fiscal grip, he said. “Just because we have staved off the kind of red ink drowning other governments does not mean the county will be creating line items in the budget for everyone who wants and needs funding,” he says. Fiscal austerity is a long-term commitment, he says, especially when improvements such as increased sales-tax revenue can just as easily disappear.
Along with highlighting the county’s fiscal success, Picente praised other successes around the county, including Griffiss Airport in the Griffiss Business and Technology Park in Rome. Allegiant Air, a commercial aviation company, is considering a move to Griffiss this fall to provide non-stop air service to Florida. MidAir USA, a repair facility currently located at the airport, is considering an expansion project that could add 106 new jobs to its existing 213 jobs. Premier Aviation recently landed Air Canada as a new repair account.
“Griffiss is a very apt symbol for everything we are doing in Oneida County,” Picente says.
Not all the news from Griffiss is positive however, and Picente said Oneida County will commit $100,000 to fight to preserve
defense-related jobs at Griffiss as the federal government looks to make defense cuts.
In Deerfield, the county government will soon issue a request for proposals to examine development possibilities for the former Broadacres Skilled Nursing Facility in hopes to bring the empty property back to life.
The county will also implement the SEMI High Tech U project, in partnership with the Workforce Investment Board of Herkimer, Madison and Oneida Counties and the Community Foundation of Herkimer and Oneida Counties. Oneida County will provide $10,000 in funding toward the math and science-based career-exploration program.
Picente gave his address to more than 300 people.