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Preston: “Broome County in State of Evolution”

Binghamton, NY – Broome County Executive Debbie Preston delivered her annual State of the County address, telling the people that Broome County is in a state of evolution.

“When I gave my first State of the County address in 2012, I told people we needed change and I think we flipped this place on its head,” says Broome County Executive Debbie Preston.  “Those changes helped to shape the future and we are well on our way to getting to where we want to be.”

Where We Were:

During Preston’s first State of the County speech, she talked about changes.  In the 4 years since, there have been significant changes aimed at shrinking the size of government and being more conservative with the taxpayer’s money.

  • $7 million in savings thanks to Welfare Fraud Team, which would have equaled a 4% tax increase.
  • Negotiated better contracts with 7 of 8 unions
  • Saw more than 600 visitors during open office hours
  • Private company to run rehab unit at Willow Point for better service and saved $750,000 annually
  • Private company to run Central Foods, which will save $1.4 million annually
  • Significant improvements to B.C. Transit, which will save $425,000 annually
  • Kept Property Taxes Low:
    • 0% in 2013
    • 1.77% in 2014
    • 2.49% in 2015
    • 1.88% in 2016
    • Average increase of 1.84%

“We have made some very difficult decisions that may have been unpopular at the time, but were completely necessary,” says Preston.  “We had to have the guts to make those tough decisions with the best interest of the taxpayers in mind.”

Where We Are:

Broome County is in a different place than it was just a few years ago, but there is still plenty of work to be done.  Preston says we are now in a state of evolution, meaning we are on the way to where we want to go as a community.

  • Vacant storefronts in Binghamton filled with restaurants, shops and local breweries
  • Construction of $19 million High Technology Incubator
  • Vacant Carnegie Library will be new home to SUNY Broome Culinary Program
  • Former Link Simulation Building transforming into Link Park, home to Modern Marketing Concepts and 600 new, good paying jobs
  • Vacant building in Broome Corporate Park now home to ADEC, which is creating 150-200 new jobs
  • Vacant land near Greater Binghamton Airport soon to be shovel ready sites for businesses
  • Southern Tier won $500 million Upstate Revitalization Award after 4 straight years of winning State Regional Economic Development Council Awards

But not all news has been good news.  Lower than expected sales tax revenue has made it difficult because that was expected revenue for the County.  Also, the lower than expected gas prices, while good at the pumps, has put a dent in the County sales tax projections.

Opioid Epidemic:

  • Partnered with County Legislature to host 9 Community Education events with more than 1,600 people attending
  • Worked with Senator Akshar and Assemblywoman Lupardo for additional treatment beds at Fairview Recovery Services and Addiction Crisis Center
  • Worked with Mayor David and the Binghamton Police for a police presence at bus station
  • Worked with Senator Schumer and Congressman Hanna to secure $700,000 in grants for Drug Court
  • Recently announced OPRAD Program

“We remain committed to combating the growing drug problem from all avenues,” says Preston.  “We want to thank District Attorney Cornwell and Sheriff Harder for their efforts and we will continue to fight this epidemic from all fronts.”

Where We Are Going:

County Executive Preston says we need to keep evolving into a Broome County that can sustain itself for decades to come.

  • Develop the Health Sciences and Technology Innovation Park at the center of the Johnson City iDistrict
  • Revitalization of 59 Lester Avenue
  • New parking, residential and retail facility at 7 Hawley Street, Binghamton
  • Expand the Flexible Printed Electronics Technology Center and Industrial 3D Printing Center in Endicott
  • New Year Round Farmers Market
  • New Solar Farm in Conklin, which will cover about 25% of County Department’s needs, saving millions of dollars.

“We’ve seen our shares of ups and downs over the years, but we are on an upward swing,” says Preston.  “We are evolving into something greater and there’s even better news coming down the road.  We need to continue to work for the people while making Broome County a great place to live, work and raise a family.”

 

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03/01/2016 - 6:05pm