Putnam County’s Shares Services Plan to Use a Bottoms Up Approach

CARMEL, NY – Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell facilitated the first 2018 shared services meeting for the County-wide Shared Services Initiative with the county’s town supervisors, village mayors and other stakeholders in the community at the Bureau of Emergency Services TOPS Building in Carmel on Monday, Feb. 5.

“As a home-rule state, it is up to our local municipalities what they want to participate in,” said Odell. “New York State wants us—county, town and village governments, to collectively come up with a plan to find efficiencies and eliminate redundancies through the implementation of shares service that will generate property tax savings. However, in the end each entity can determine how much they want to be involved so, it is best to use a bottoms-up approach in the plan creation process.”

According to New York State, the County-wide Shared Services Initiative was established in the fiscal year 2018 State Budget to generate property tax savings through intergovernmental collaboration. The initiative requires the creation of a shared services panel in each county, which is chaired by the County’s Chief Executive Officer and composed of City and Village Mayors, and Town Supervisors, to develop and vote on a County-wide Shared Service Property Tax Savings Plan. The CEO may invite Special Improvement Districts, school districts or BOCES to participate in the panel. The plan will create demonstrable property tax savings in 2018 or 2019, from actions identified in it.

Odell has asked BOCES, the school districts and the fire districts to be involved with the panel.

The plan must contain new recurring property tax savings from actions such as, but not limited to: the elimination of duplicative services; shared services, such as joint purchasing, shared highway equipment, shared storage facilities, shared plowing services, and energy and insurance purchasing cooperatives; reductions in back office administrative overhead; better coordination of services.

Odell asked local elected officials to take the lead on certain topics based on the Shared Services meeting that was held in June 2017—Patterson Town Supervisor Rich Williams to take on joint purchasing, including energy and insurance; Patterson Highway Supervisor Russell Goff to explore shared highway services – Russ;  Putnam Valley Town Supervisor Sam Oliverio to analyze ways to reduce back office administrative overhead and Southeast Town Councilwoman Lynne Eckhart to look into government consolidation.

Putnam County and its towns and villages already share services such as the East of Hudson Watershed Corp, law enforcement, shared email services and the Putnam County Commission for Fiscal Vision and Accountability. The state will not give credit for existing programs.

Odell is having the panel work with the Commission for Fiscal Vision and Accountability, which has already identified actions that can lead to potential cost savings. The Commission, which is a currently co-chaired by Leg. Neal Sullivan and Leg. Ginny Nacerino, is a committee that was initially formed in 2007 by the Putnam County Legislature to focus on a fiscal vision for all of Putnam County consisted of business leaders, elected officials and stakeholders. Odell, who was then a legislator, and Sullivan, who was then a private citizen, were the first co-chairs of the Commission. It was re-established in June of 2014 and again by Legislative Resolution in 2017.

Previously, the Commission identified such actions as town/village infrastructure projects, garbage/recycling services, consolidation of recreational facilities/services, school district consolidation of back office functions, police department consolidation, highway depts. sharing services, county/town organizational chart analysis, health insurance savings, energy consumption, tax assessment and electronic video appearance.

“We’ve all been working on shared services for years,” said Sullivan. “Now the important thing is that the state has gotten behind shared services. There seems to be an ability or willingness to make things happen that in the past could not be done. I think there is a real possibility for progress for initiatives we had to put aside in the past because of the obstacles that were in front of them.”  He cited the possible consolidation of courts as an example.

Odell put forth three suggests for the panel to consider for the plan—electronic video appearance, a wash bay at the transportation department and county tax assessors.

Susan Savage, a representative from the NYS Department of State, was at the meeting and said that she had heard many of the same ideas in other counties throughout the state.

“You have a pretty good head start because of your Commission on Fiscal Vision and Accountability,” Savage said. “The bottoms-up approach that you are planning to use is what we, in Albany, envisioned the counties using. In addition, we are here as a resource for you.”

The panel had until Aug. 1, to development of the initial plan, which must include certification of savings due to implementation of the plan.  Odell will then submit the plan to the Putnam County Legislature.

The Legislature will have until Sept. 15 to vote on the plan and issue an advisory report with recommendations to Odell to may modify the plan. She will then submit the plan to panel. At that time mayors or supervisors can opt out of any of the proposed actions by providing to Odell a written notice of their decision with a reason explaining the opting out.

The involvement of the public, business and civic organizations is encouraged. In addition to the Commission meetings, Odell will organize at least three public hearings on the plan.

By Oct. 15, the County Executive will have to submit the panel-approved plan to NYS, circulate the report to the residents and give a public presentation of the plan.

 

Photo caption: County Executive MaryEllen Odell addresses the Shared Service Panel with Susan Savage (left) of the NYS Department of State and Leg. Neal Sullivan (right).

Odell to give State of the County Address March 15 at Putnam County Golf Course

Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell will present the State of the County address at 7 p.m. on Thursday, March 15, at Putnam County Golf Course, 187 Hill Street in Mahopac.  Prior to the address, there will be a Putnam County Market Place which will open at 5:30 p.m.

As she has in the past, Odell has chosen to highlight a particular theme for the year. Odell has decided that 2018 will be “The Year of the Volunteer.”

“From our first responders to our Scouts, Chambers and Rotaries—volunteers play such an important role in the quality of life in our communities,’” said Odell. “I want to recognize those people who give of their time to help others and make Putnam County a better place to live, work and play.”

In addition, the Putnam County Market Place will highlight businesses, organizations and not-for-profits from throughout county that make Putnam the place to live, work and play.  Organization that would like to participate in the Putnam County Market Place can contact Heidi Kuhland at 845-808-1150 x49406 or Heidi.kuhland@putnamcountyny.gov.

For further information about Putnam County’s many services and departments, residents may visit the County website at: www.putnamcountyny.com/soc2018.

Mahopac Scouts Hold Court of Honor

MAHOPAC, NY – Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell and other elected officials and community leaders attended Mahopac Boy Scout Troop 1’s annual Court of Honor breakfast held at the hall of the Italian American Club of Mahopac on Saturday, Feb. 3. The event recognized the achievements of the 11 troop members.

“The Scouts are such an important part of our community,” said Odell. “They volunteer for events and help other organizations while learning the skills that will help them through life.”

Recognized during the Court of Honor was: Jozef Bachleda, who advanced in rank to “Scout” and earned his Family Life Merit Badge; Max Head, who earned his Family Life Merit Badge; Kyle Link, who earned his Citizenship in the Nation Merit Badge; Simeon Matute, who earned his Fishing Merit Badge; Michal Mazur, who earned his Family Life Merit Badge; Ryan Murphy who  advanced in rank to “First Class” and earned his Family Life and Personal Fitness Merit Badges; Jake Roberts, who advanced in rank to “Second Class;” Tommy Rumore, who earned his Communication Merit Badge; Christopher Suscal, who advanced in rank to “Tenderfoot” and  earned his Family Life Merit Badge; Joseph Trombetta,  who earned his Camping and Citizenship in the Community Merit Badges; and Michael Vaccaro, who earned his Family Life Merit Badge.

Photo Caption: Mahopac Boy Scout Troop 1 with Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell and other elected officials following the Court of Honor Breakfast held on Saturday, Feb. 3.

Putnam County and Mercy College team up for new degree program

CARMEL, NY – Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell announced that Mercy College will be offering a bachelor’s degree program in corporate and homeland security management through the county’s Bureau of Emergency Services’ Training and Operations Center Building (TOPS Building) at the Donald B. Smith Campus in Carmel. The program will begin in Fall 2018.

“We are a community of first responders—career and volunteer, and this program helps builds a succession plan in law enforcement, first responders and EMS, which we know is critical, not just here but for the Hudson Valley,” said Odell. “Also, by teaming up with Mercy College we can advance our secondary educational opportunities in Putnam County.”

Mercy College’s Bachelor of Science degree in corporate and homeland security management is a four-year degree offered through the School of Business. It is the first undergraduate degree of its kind, designed to provide a comprehensive background for students interested in pursuing professional managerial careers in the private or public sectors where business and security skills coexist. The B.S. degree in corporate and homeland security management offers students a cutting-edge degree—one which speaks to the expanding and dynamic role that security now plays in virtually every business and government career.

“This a unique program run by Dr. Matthew Miraglia. It is perfect for corporate and government leaders or those who want to become leaders,” said Dr. Ed Weis, dean of Mercy College’s School of Business. “We want to focus this program on career advancement as opposed to just academic theory.”

To encourage residents to participate in the program, Putnam County is partnering will Mercy College to offer several scholarships for the Fall 2018 class.

“We understand how cost constraints limit the opportunity for many to continue their education,” said Odell. “Our goal is to make it low cost and affordable.”

There will be one full scholarship and several partial scholarships awarded. Applicants can be nominated through their school district, fire department, EMS agency or other government entity.

Mercy College has its main campus in Dobbs Ferry and other campuses in Manhattan, the Bronx and Yorktown.

For more about the program visit www.mercy.edu/degrees-programs/bs-corporate-and-homeland-security. For more information about the scholarship program call the County Executive’s Office at 845-808-1001.

Odell Supports Search for Outstanding Senior Citizens

Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell is supporting Director of the Office for Senior Resources, Michael Cunningham, and the Putnam County Senior Citizens Advisory Board as they seek nominations for this year’s SENIOR CITIZEN OF THE YEAR AWARD.

“We are fortunate to have a very active senior population,” said Odell. “Selecting one man and one woman from among so many seniors who do so much to make a difference and enhance the lives of Putnam residents will be an exciting challenge.”

This year’s nominating theme is “ENGAGE AT EVERY AGE.”

Candidates must be 60 years of age or older and residents of Putnam County.

Two seniors from each of New York’s counties will be honored at a luncheon on
May 22nd in Albany. Putnam’s winners will also be honored at the annual
Putnam County Senior Volunteer Ceremony this spring.

Nominations should be made on an official form which can be obtained from the
Office for Senior Resources or downloaded from their website: http://www.putnamcountyny.com/osr.
Completed nomination forms must be received by Friday, March 2, 2018. Forms may be mailed to: Senior Award, Putnam County Office for Senior Resources, 110 Old Rt. 6, Building No. 1, Carmel, NY 10512 or faxed to (845) 808-1942 or emailed to: sherrie.gilmore@putnamcountyny.gov.

Employees of federal, state, county, or local municipalities who provide services to senior citizens are not eligible to be nominated. Previous recipients of this award are also ineligible.

Senior of the Year Nomination Form 2018

For more information or to request a nomination form, please call the Putnam County Office for Senior Resources at (845) 808-1700.

Soulmates Show at Tilly’s Table Sparks Marriage Proposal

BREWSTER, NY – Nicholas Murphy of the Bronx found his soulmate in Michelle Magaletto, 27, of Mahopac. He got down on one knee and proposed to her at the Soulmates performance on Saturday, Jan. 20 at Tilly’s Table on Tilly Foster Farm in Brewster. She accepted.

“Congratulations to Nick and Michelle on their engagement,” said County Executive MaryEllen Odell. “May they be sources of strength and comfort for one another as they build their lives together.”

The staff at Tilly’s Table assist Murphy with his proposal plan.

“We were delighted to help Nick make that evening even more special for the two of them,” said Meagan Hartnett, Tilly’s Table manager. “Tilly’s Table is the perfect place for a great night out or to make lasting memories.”

Tilly’s Table is open for dinner Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights starting at 5 p.m; Sunday brunch from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and Sunday dinner from 3 to 6 p.m. It also regularly hosts events and entertainment as well as private affairs. Reservations are recommended. Visit tillystablerestaurant.com or call 845-808-1840 for more information

Tilly’s Table is located on Tilly Foster Farm, 100 Route 312 in Brewster.

Photo caption: Nicholas Murphy proposed to Michelle Magaletto at the Soulmates show on Sat., Jan. 20 at Tilly’s Table in Brewster.

 

Putnam County honored for financial reporting

CARMEL, NY – Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell announced that Putnam County has been awarded the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting by the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada (GFOA) for its comprehensive annual financial report (CAFR).

The Certificate of Achievement, according to the GFOA, is judged by an impartial panel and is the highest form of recognition in the area of governmental accounting and financial reporting. Its attainment represents a significant accomplishment by a government and its management.

Being recognized with the Certificate of Achievement means that Putnam County has demonstrated a “spirit of full disclosure” to clearly communicate its financial story.

Odell remarked, “The Certificate of Achievement is a recognition that Putnam County is committed to open, transparent government.”

Leg. Joseph Castellano, who is Chairman of the Legislature and its Audit and Administration committee agreed. “Both the County Executive and the Legislature work cooperatively to ensure that the people of Putnam County are aware of how their taxpayer dollars are spent,” he said.

The GFOA is a nonprofit professional association serving approximately 17,500 government finance professionals with offices in Chicago, IL, and Washington, D.C.

 

County Executive Odell and Chairman Castellano Ready to Work

CARMEL, NY – After being elected chairman of the Putnam County Legislature by his colleagues on Tuesday, Jan. 2, Legislator Joseph Castellano met with Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell to discuss the year’s agenda. With the County already actively engaged in issues such as the opioid crisis, personnel changes and infrastructure issues, the two agreed that Legislature had a lot of work ahead of it and would not wait until February to hold its committee meetings.

“Chairman Castellano understands that we serve the people of Putnam County 12 months of the year and that it is prudent for the Legislature to conduct its committee meetings in January,” said Odell. “We are working hard to address issues that affect our residents and our legislators want to be an active partner in determining the solutions.”

Although Castellano had 30 days to determine the Legislature’s committee organization, he had it posted on the county’s website by Friday, Jan. 5.

“Having been on the Legislature for the past five years and served as the deputy chairman for the past two years, I know that it is best for my colleagues and me to hit the ground running,” said Castellano. “Our committee meetings allow us to discuss in-depth topics as a group with the department heads or other related experts. By holding these meetings in January, we will be setting ourselves up for a very productive year.

Castellano will be heading up the Audit and Administrative Committee as well as the Budget Committee. The legislators chairing the other committees is as follows: Economic Development & Energy Committee – Leg. William Gouldman; Health, Social, Educational & Environmental Committee – Leg. Barbara Scuccimarra; Personnel Committee – Leg. Ginny Nacerino; Physical Services Committee – Leg. Carl Albano; Protective Services Committee – Leg. Paul Jonke; and Rules, Enactments & Intergovernmental Relations Committee – Leg. Neal Sullivan. All of the legislators serve on at least three committees.

The personnel and physical services committees are scheduled to meet on Wednesday, Jan. 17.  The audit and administration committee will be meeting on Thursday, Jan. 25.

Legislative committee meetings are held in Room 318 in the County Office Building. The meeting calendar and committee agendas are available online at putnamcountyny.gov, under the Legislature’s link.

Prepayment of Putnam County Property Taxes

Putnam County’s 2018 Town and County Tax Warrant has been signed.  Property owners should contact their local tax receivers for information about prepaying 2018 taxes.

Carmel: Kathleen Kraus (845) 628-1500
Kent: Jean Johnson (845) 225-1864
Patterson: Mary DeLanoy (845) 878-9300 Extension 18
Philipstown: Tina Merando (845) 265-3329
Putnam Valley: Sherry Howard (845) 526-3280
Southeast: Susan Tobacco (845) 279-7665

Putnam County Executive Odell Signs Opioid Lawsuit Resolution

CARMEL, NY – Surrounded by county officials, state representatives and local community leaders, Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell signed the resolution directing the county government to join the New York Opioid Cost Recovery litigation, on Monday, Dec. 18 at the County’s Bureau of Emergency Services. The lawsuit is against the pharmaceutical companies and distributors for fraudulent and negligent practices they engaged in, which caused immeasurable harm to residents and taxpayers. The resolution was passed by the Putnam County Legislature last month, 8-0, with one legislator absent.

“Heroin and opioid use is a major public health and safety crisis and the costs to our community is not limited to pain and suffering of the individuals and families impacted,” said Odell. “Unfortunately, there is also a taxpayer impact including massive resources used in county public health, law enforcement, court system, mental health and social services, coroner and medical examiner and many other programs and services. The County has significant damages and we will aggressively pursue those damages through litigation.”

The goal of the litigation would be to fully compensate Putnam County for unnecessary cost incurred because of prescription opioid abuse, including workplace costs relative to loss of productivity, healthcare costs such as abuse treatment and criminal justice costs.

Heroin and opiates are now the leading cause of accidental death in New York State, outnumbering homicides. In fact, in the past three years, over 40 fatal opioid overdoses were reported in Putnam County.

The number of drug-related arrests have gone up also from 339 in 2016 to so far 456 in 2017, according to the Putnam County District Attorney’s Office.

“This crisis is only growing and as government officials, we need to do all we can to combat the violence and unnecessary death attributed to this crisis,” said Odell. “In order to fight this growing epidemic, we must improve prevention, increase access to treatment, expand recovery options, expand resources for law enforcement and battle with the root of the problem—the pharmaceutical companies and distributors.”

The connection between prescription drugs and heroin stems from the abuse of prescription opioid pain killers, and is directly related to heroin’s growth in popularity with young people: these pills are the doorway to heroin abuse.

“Filing a lawsuit also allows the County to be in the driver’s seat and control its own destiny,” added Odell. “We have the power to determine whether to accept a settlement and how any recovery would be distributed, not the State.”

Putnam County will work with the NYS Attorney General’s Office on this issue to ensure that the county’s costs are included in any proposed settlement. The Attorney General’s Office is part of a multi-state negotiating team investigating the manufacturers and distributor practices.

The law firm of Napoli Shkolnik PLLC will represent Putnam County’s interests in the New York Opioid Cost Recovery litigation.

“By joining forces with several counties across the state, we are holding those companies accountable,” said Chairwoman Ginny Nacerino, Putnam County Legislature. “I believe everyone has known someone, directly or indirectly, affected by the devastation of opioids. It is important to raise awareness to the origin, and it is time for those companies to take responsibility. Unfortunately, the damage created by such negligence and depravity is irreversible, resulting in both pain and suffering and the loss of many lives. It is truly shameful.”

Senator Terrence Murphy said, “I applaud the actions of County Executive Odell in joining this lawsuit. She had always stood in the forefront in the fight against heroin. This lawsuit reaffirms her commitment to holding big pharmaceutical companies accountable for ruining our communities and pushing their poison on our families.”

“The heroin and opioid epidemic has devastated far too many families here in our community and despite the best efforts of the local community and the state, the overdose numbers continue to climb” said Senator Sue Serino, a member of the State’s Task Force on Heroin and Opioids. “We need to be exhausting all options to tackle this epidemic head-on and that’s what this effort is all about. I thank County Executive Odell for continuing to make this issue a top priority.”

Assemblyman Kevin Byrne said, “With this resolution, Putnam County is taking an important step by joining others in attacking the root cause of this opioid epidemic.  Big Pharma must be held accountable for its role in the marketing and distribution of these opioid pain medications. I thank the Putnam County Executive and the Putnam County Legislature for their strong stand on this issue.”

“As we all know, on a daily basis, heroin and other dangerous and illegal drugs are being smuggled into our country, distributed onto our streets, and are killing our loved ones,” said Putnam County District Attorney Robert Tendy. “Surprisingly, over the past 10 to 20 years, there has been an effort on behalf of trained professionals in our own country to encourage our citizens to take legal prescription drugs at an alarmingly dangerous rate, resulting in tens of thousands of people, our children, siblings, and parents, becoming addicted and dying.  Holding the pharmaceutical companies responsible for their part in the Opioid epidemic in America is one very important step in the process to solving this national crisis.”

Stephen J. Acquario, executive director, NYS Association of Counties, said, “County Executive MaryEllen Odell is leading the way to combat the spreading of the opioid crisis facing our state.  By bringing legal action, this lawsuit will bring change in opioid distribution and manufacturer responsibility.  This is another important step to save lives, protect our communities and bring about needed reform.”

“It is about time that we hold these companies culpable,” said Susan Salomone, executive director and co-founder of Drug Crisis in Our Backyard. “Families are spending their retirement funds trying to get people treatment. The pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors need to be responsible.”

Megan Castellano, executive director of the Mental Health Association of Putnam County, said. “As co-chair of the Suicide Prevention Task Force we are proud to support this initiative and we are happy that the county is taking the lead to further our efforts to save lives by reducing access to lethal means, particularly prescription drugs.”