Ossenfort outlines “five principles” in State of County speech

Montgomery County Executive Matthew Ossenfort laid out five “core principles” at the beginning of his second State of the County message which he said have guided him in all his actions during his first year in office.

He delivered the message Friday morning before dozens of civic and political leaders at the clubhouse of the Amsterdam Municipal Golf Course.

The five principles are:

  • sound budgeting and financial planning;
  • implementation of a regional business plan;
  • investing in critical infrastructure and public safety projects;
  • local government efficiency through consolidation and shared services;
  • organizational improvements.

Ossenfort praised members of the County Legislature, who he said worked well with him to strengthen the county’s financial position. He cited the county’s 2015 budget, which was adopted on time, cuts the county’s operating deficit by $1.1 million and reduced reliance on reserve funds to balance the budget while remaining under the state-mandated tax cap. He said he anticipates reducing the deficit by another $1 million this year.

The dissolution of the Montgomery-Otsego-Schoharie Solid Waste Management Authority, known as MOSA, was a major factor in Standard and Poors upgrading the county’s credit rating to A-plus, Ossenfort said. That will allow the county to finance improvements such as the addition to the Public Safety Building at lower interest rates, he said.

He also talked about local government efficiency and shared services, including an agreement with Schoharie and Otsego counties to manage the former MOSA landfills, saving Montgomery County taxpayers more than $100,000 annually.

Ossenfort called for audits and analysis of the county Personnel and Social Services departments to see where additional savings could be realized. He also mentioned that the Department of Social Services will open a satellite office in Amsterdam to save money on client transportation.

Ossenfort praised the county’s Business Development Center, saying it is “getting results.” He specifically cited the center’s work with Amsterdam Printing Corp. and NY State officials in securing a Community Development Block Grant to keep the company in the Town of Amsterdam, as well as guiding the Concordia Senior Community project in the City of Amsterdam.

He also talked about the importance of “branding”–the way the county is presented and the impression people get.

“We don’t ‘duke it out’ in public, because that’s what goes in the papers and that’s what people see,” he said. “That’s one of the biggest changes in the county this year.”

Ossenfort said he expects groundbreaking to take place this spring for the addition to the Public Safety Building. That is part of the effort to consolidate county departments while moving out of the county Annex Building on Park Street, in Fonda, which is in a flood zone. He also said the county office building on Broadway–which he said he calls the “bomb shelter”–has issues as well.

John Becker

John Becker is both a Reporter and Consulting Editor for The Compass. He and his wife Pat operate Abbey Farms in Amsterdam NY.