County Executive Odell unveils proposed 2018 Putnam County Budget

MAHOPAC, NY – Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell presented the $155.3 million proposed 2018 county budget to the legislature at a public meeting held at Putnam County Golf Course on Thursday, Oct. 6. The budget, which is within the New York State imposed tax cap, has a net increase of $2.3 million over the 2017 adopted budget, which reflects a 1.5% spending increase.

“It is a challenge every year to develop a budget that keeps within the Albany imposed tax cap while delivering mandated services, providing the quality of life needs of the residents as well as the needs of our employees and retirees; and planning for a fiscally secure future,” County Executive Odell said. “However, because of the efforts this administration puts forth each day we continue to be able to meet that challenge.”

Based on the proposed budget, the average taxpayer whose property is assessed at $277,000 will pay $984 in county taxes in 2018, an increase of $22.

“County Executive MaryEllen Odell unveiled the 2018 tentative budget and once again she did not disappoint,” said Ginny Nacerino, Chairwoman of the Putnam County Legislature.  “For the sixth consecutive year, she has delivered a fiscally sound budget and stayed within the cap.  In addition to fiscal accountability, she places a high priority on social responsibilities, which encompasses all the departments and agencies that contribute to our wonderful quality of life here in Putnam County. As a former legislator, herself, she fully understands and appreciates the tremendous undertaking the Legislature assumes to adopt a responsible budget.  By delivering a fiscally conservative and tight budget, the county executive has provided the Legislature the advantage of working with a solid foundation.  Based on the last five years, I do not anticipate any dramatic changes.  The county is in good shape and that speak volumes to County Executive MaryEllen Odell’s leadership.”

The proposed budget includes: $1.3 million increase in employee and retiree health insurance costs; $1.1 million increase in personnel costs; $753,000 increase in early intervention/preschool education program and $350,000 increase in debt service costs. The budget also reflects a $2.4 million decrease in NYS Pension Expense due to amortization pay off, which resulted in an interest cost savings of $773,000 for the county.

The proposed budget includes: $1.3 million increase in employee and retiree health insurance costs; $1.1 million increase in personnel costs; $753,000 increase in early intervention/preschool education program and $350,000 increase in debt service costs. The budget also reflects a $2.4 million decrease in NYS Pension Expense due to amortization pay off, which resulted in an interest cost savings of $773,000 for the county.

“What this administration does not do is ‘kick the can down the road,’ we develop a plan,” County Executive Odell said. “Since Dec. 31, 2011, our administration, in partnership with the Legislature, has implemented sound debt management practices which reduced County debt.”

The county executive anticipates that the budget will allow Putnam to continue to earn its Moody’s Aa2 bond rating. Odell also noted that the county has reduced its long-term debt by 15% since she came into office in 2011. It has also eliminated its short-term debt of $17.2 million completely.

Seventy percent of the proposed budget, or $107.6 million, consists of the more than 200 mandated programs, which are set by the Federal or State governments with no or very limited input from Putnam County. The other $47.7 million, or 30% of the proposed budget, is made up of quality of life costs which include: Sheriff Department’s road patrol, Office of Senior Resources, retiree health benefits, emergency services, parks and recreation, PART system, and outside agencies.

County Executive Odell unveiled a plan to find potential cost savings for the county while being able to provide the same or improved services to the county’s retiree health benefits. The county is offering an alternative to the New York State Health Insurance Program through Benistar that eligible retirees can voluntarily switch to. Benistar offers a low option and a high option for both individuals and families that cost equal to or less than the current insurance plan. The savings will be shared by the county and the retirees proportional to the contribution. The estimated total savings by offering the Benistar options is $182,181.

More information about the new insurance options will be available to the retirees by mid-October through the Personnel Department.

Property taxes will make up only 27%, or $42.3 million, of the county’s revenue to balance the 2018 proposed budget. Sales tax will be the largest contributor at 38% or $58.5 million. The county departments are expected to generate $26.8 million, or 17%, and State and Federal reimbursements will make up $27.7 million or 18%.

Putnam County Government to Raise Domestic Violence Awareness

CARMEL, N.Y. – Putnam County Government is partnering with The Putnam/Northern Westchester Women’s Resource Center to help promote October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

Purple is the color that represents domestic violence awareness.  Purple t-shirts are being sold for $10 each to county employees through the department representatives. Proceeds will benefit the Women’s Resource Center.

Employees are encouraged to wear their t-shirts or other purple clothing and join their colleagues on the steps of the Historic County Courthouse on Thursday, Oct. 19 for a group photo at 11:30 a.m. Those employees that participate will be allotted an extra 15 minutes on to their lunch break.

“Raising money through the t-shirt sales, wearing purple and standing outside on the Historic County Courthouse steps during the day draws attention briefly to subject of domestic violence in Putnam,” said County Executive MaryEllen Odell.  “But Women’s Resource Center’s work is on-going. This is the least we can do to help bring awareness to the public about the problems too many residents of Putnam face as victims of domestic violence.”

The Putnam Northern Westchester Women’s Resource Center provides advocacy, education and services to the community to create a safe, supportive environment that eliminates violence against women and children and promotes gender equality.

In addition, the Historic County Courthouse is illuminated purple at night for the month of October.

Putnam to Live Stream 2018 Budget Address on Thursday, Oct. 5th

 MAHOPAC, NY – Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell announced today that the Putnam County 2018 Budget Address will be available for live viewing via the county website: putnamcountyny.com/budget2018. The event takes place on Thursday, Oct. 5th at 7 p.m. at the Putnam County Golf Course, located at 187 Hill Street, Mahopac, NY. Those who would like to attend the address in person must reserve a seat via the website: putnamcountyny.com/budget2018.

“We are excited to offer the public the option to remotely view the 2018 Budget Address via live stream so that we reach the widest network of taxpayers as possible,” said County Executive Odell. “Having the presentation available live from the county website demonstrates my administration’s commitment to being efficient and transparent.”

During the 2018 Budget Address, County Executive Odell will discuss her plan to meet the fiscal and social responsibilities of county government, while remaining under the state mandated tax cap.

Preceding the 2018 Budget Address at Putnam County Golf Course will be the Putnam County Market Place from 5:30 to 7 p.m.  The market place showcases nonprofit and other service based organizations that benefit the people of Putnam County.

Time to Stand Up for America Odell orders installation of Row of Honor, calls for an assembly of patriots at Cornerstone Park in Carmel

PLEASE NOTE THE REVISED LOCATION AT CORNERSTONE PARK:

CARMEL, N.Y. – Putnam County MaryEllen Odell is calling for residents to Stand Up For America. She has ordered the immediate installation of the county’s Row of Honor along Lake Gleneida in Carmel, N.Y. On Sunday, Oct. 1, Odell is asking for the public to join her AT CORNERSTONE PARK 1 FAIR ST CARMEL, at 10 a.m. where she will have the National Anthem played and together they can stand in unity for America.

On Sunday, Sept. 24, several football teams permitted players to kneel during the National Anthem in protest. Then all but one player of the Pittsburgh Steelers remained in the locker room during the National Anthem. Only Alejandro Villanueva who is the team’s offensive tackle, stood outside of the tunnel entrance and held his hand over his heart. Villanueva is a West Point graduate and a former Army Ranger who served three tours of Duty in Afghanistan and is the recipient of Bronze Star medal for Valor and for Overseas Services.
“This isn’t about race, this is about respect,” said Odell. “Respect for our Veterans. This is about honoring and standing in unity with all those who have sacrificed themselves to protect the safety of others.”

“Standing during the National Anthem is not about anything political,” said Odell. “It is about paying respect to all the men and women who have and continue to risk their lives for our freedoms. Freedom isn’t free and the very least one could do is stand for the National Anthem every time it is played.”

Karl Rohde, Director of Putnam County’s Veteran Service Agency agrees with Odell’s stance on the National Anthem.

“A few years ago, the US Supreme Court made a mistake by ruling that burning the American Flag was free speech. As a Veteran I vehemently disagreed,” said Rohde. “The learned jurists got that wrong. The disrespect that some NFL players are displaying is as vile as the burning of the American Flag. Now they are claiming that they do not mean to disrespect Veterans and Service Members. If you disrespect our National Anthem you have disrespected everyone who ever wore a uniform of the US military.”

 

Putnam Replenishes its Fleet with Eight New Buses

In efforts to ensure passenger safety and maximize efficiencies, County Executive MaryEllen Odell announced that Putnam recently added eight new buses to its fleet, allowing older buses to retire.

“Updating our buses allows us to better serve the public,” said Odell. “Newer vehicles are less prone to breakdowns and are better to accommodate the needs of our ridership. They help us to meet our fiscal and social responsibilities to our residents.”

The new buses have led lighting, are more comfortable, less noisy and are more fuel efficient.  In addition, each bus has a wheelchair lift to accommodate persons with disabilities.  The new buses are also better for the environment because they replace inefficient diesel buses.

With the latest additions, the buses traversing the fixed routes are all uniform.

The older buses that will be decommissioned have over 200,000 miles on them.

The buses were deployed on every route in mid-June with a positive response from riders and drivers alike.

Photo Caption: Several of the new buses that have been added to the Putnam County fleet.

9/11 Putnam Heroes Memorial

Putnam County’s annual September 11th Candlelight Vigil will be held on Monday, September 11, 2017 at the Putnam Heroes Memorial located at Spain Cornerstone Park 1 Fair Street Carmel at 8:00 PM

This year the service will also include a dedication of a new memorial to those citizens of Putnam County who have died as a result of their action in the aftermath of the September 11th attacks. Along with the eight Putnam Heroes who died on September 11th, there will be an additional six citizens recognized. They are Firefighter Edward Tietjen of the FDNY and Battalion Chief John Vaughan of the FDNY, both formally of Mahopac. Battalion Chief Thomas Van Doran of the FDNY and Firefighter Glenn Bisogno of the Brewster Fire Department, both formerly of Brewster. Firefighter Thomas Kelly of the FDNY and Firefighter Charles Flickinger of the Lake Carmel Fire Department, both formerly of the Town of Kent.

For those wishing to attend, preceding the Candlelight Vigil there will be a Mass of Remembrance at St. James the Apostle Church, 14 Gleneida Avenue, Carmel at 7:00 PM

Odell names Kenneth W. Clair Jr. acting Emergency Services Commissioner as Sutton retires

Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell has named Kenneth W. Clair Jr. Acting Commissioner of the Bureau of Emergency Services (BOES) after the retirement of the current Commissioner Anthony W. Sutton. The change will be effective Tuesday, Sept. 5.

“Kenneth Clair’s knowledge, experience and passion have made him an asset at the Bureau for decades,” said Odell. “I know that with his capabilities, he will successfully lead the Bureau through this transition.”

Prior to becoming Deputy Commissioner, Clair served in the Bureau a Deputy Fire Coordinator for nine years. In addition, he has served as Assistant Fire Inspector in Southeast from 1997-2003 and more recently as the Emergency Preparedness Officer for the Town of Southeast from 2003-present. He is a New York State Fire Prevention Officer and is National Incident Management certified.

A lifelong Brewster resident, Clair has been a volunteer fire fighter for the Brewster Fire Department for more than 25 years.  He is also a former Brewster Fire Chief, Past President of Putnam County Fire Association, a member of the National Fire Protection Association, New York State Chiefs and Putnam County Chiefs Association and currently serves as a Fire Commissioner in the Brewster-Southeast Joint Fire District.

For his commitment to fire prevention and education, Clair was honored as the New York State Fire Educator of the Year in 2010 and was a recipient of the Michael Neuner Fire Prevention Award.

“I’m excited to lead the Bureau of Emergency Services in Putnam,” Clair said. “I thank County Executive Odell for her confidence in me, and for giving me this tremendous opportunity. I have spent my entire public service career preparing for this role. I pledge to work hard every day to protect the people of Putnam County.”

Odell named Sutton as Emergency Service Commissioner in March 2015, after a selection committee comprised of first responders interviewed the candidates and narrowed down the field to the finalists they thought best fit the position. The legislature approved Sutton as Commissioner in May 2015.

“I appreciate the devotion Commissioner Sutton has shown the Bureau during his tenure and thank him for his service to the people of Putnam County,” said Odell. “His steady hand and calm demeanor helped the county through a difficult period. Under his leadership, the Bureau has enhanced its effectiveness to provide prompt and efficient emergency assistance to residents and visitors of Putnam County. Comm. Sutton restored relationships with the Sheriff’s Department, police departments and all of the first responder organizations.”

For Sutton retirement is bittersweet.

“I’m both excited and saddened to leave my post,” said Sutton. “It has been my distinct pleasure to serve County Executive Odell as commissioner of Emergency Services. She set the bar high, but was there at every turn to support the Bureau and help us face the challenges.”

Sutton thanks the elected officials that made sure he did his homework by asking the hard questions before approving BOES projects, initiatives and budgets. He also grateful to members of the Fire Advisory Board, Emergency Services Advisory Board, Putnam County Fire Chiefs Association, 911 Committee and the other associations, committees and organizations he worked with.

“It has been an honor to work with Putnam’s fire fighters, EMT’s and police officers,” Sutton said. “I am forever indebted to the administration staff, the dispatchers, the Deputy Fire coordinators, special teams and all the other volunteers that I have had the honor to work with during my tenure at the Bureau. They have made my job easier and more enjoyable.”

Chairwoman of the Putnam County Legislature Ginny Nacerino recognized the efforts of Sutton and the ability of Clair.

“We have been very fortunate to have Anthony Sutton serve as our Commissioner of Emergency Services,” Nacerino said. “Tony’s wealth of insight, experience and caliber has vastly improved the department and services during his tenure. I wish him all the best in retirement.”

She added, “I support passing the torch to Ken Clair and have him serve as our Acting Commissioner,” Nacerino said. “As Deputy Commissioner, he has proven to be a proactive and effective leader. I am confident that having him at the helm, he will continue in Tony’s footsteps to raise the bar and work in earnest towards improving and protecting the lives of Putnam County residents.”

Sutton is satisfied knowing the Bureau will be led by Acting Commissioner Clair and Deputy Commissioner Robert Lipton.

“They have my total confidence and make it comfortable for me to hand off the baton of leadership,” Sutton said. “I will truly miss the entire Putnam “Team” and will always remember my time here fondly.”

Photo Caption: Acting Commissioner of the Bureau of Emergency Services Ken Clair

Tilly’s Table is Ready for your Reservation

Tilly’s Table is Ready for your Reservation

Tilly’s Table is taking your dinner reservations now, for dinner seating that will begin Friday, Sept, 8. The restaurant, located in the lodge on the county-owned Tilly Foster Farm in Brewster, will highlight organic and locally sourced ingredients. After the grand opening, Tilly’s Table will continue to be open Friday and Saturday nights for dinner starting at 5 p.m. On Sundays, it will be open from 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Brunch specials will be offered on Sundays from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

“Over the summer the county unveiled its partnership with Homestyle Caterers at Tilly’s Table and the beautiful craftsmanship the county’s highway and facilities department put into the renovation to the lodge so it could be used as an event venue,” County Executive MaryEllen Odell said. “The response has been incredible. Now Homestyle Caterers is ready to officially open its restaurant part of the operations. Patrons can come in any enjoy a delicious dinner or brunch on the farm.”

The menu features organic NY Strip Steak, Alaskan King Salmon, fresh Maine lobster and many more scrumptious cuisines. The side dishes and salads will use organic kale, quinoa, romaine lettuce and potatoes.

To make a reservation or to plan your next event at Tilly’s Table, call 845-808-1840.

AT&T Teams Up with Putnam County Executive, Sheriff and County Clerk to Educate the Public on the Dangers of Smartphone Distracted Driving

AT&T Teams Up with Putnam County Executive, Sheriff and County Clerk to Educate the Public on the Dangers of Smartphone Distracted Driving

 AT&T’s Nationally-touring virtual reality simulator will make a pit-stop in Putnam County to drive home the message of It Can (All) Wait Behind the Wheel on Tuesday, July 25

WHO/WHY:       AT&T* research shows that 7 in 10 people engage in smartphone activities while driving.** It’s no longer safe to assume that people are just texting from behind the wheel. They’re checking email, posting to social media, snapping selfies and even video chatting and playing games like Pokémon Go. To drive home the message, “It Can (All) Wait,” AT&T has teamed up with Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell, Putnam County Sheriff Don Smith, and Putnam County Clerk Mike Bartolotti to bring the AT&T nationally-touring 3D virtual reality simulator to the Putnam County DMV. This educational and free opportunity will allow the public to experience firsthand how dangerous it is to take their eyes off the road and glance at a phone even for just two seconds. The virtual reality simulator “pit stop” in Putnam County is one of 200 nationwide in 2017.

The simulator is also visiting Putnam County to celebrate the remarkable dedication of local AT&T employee Regina Ennis, who won the AT&T’s It Can Wait 16 in ’16 Pledge contest last year, an internal contest challenging employees to compete to get the most It Can Wait pledges from their communities.  Because of her dedication and commitment to protecting her community through educating on dangers of smartphone distracted driving, AT&T scheduled the simulator to make a special stop in her community to help her and the local partnering dignitaries to educate county residents to keep their eyes on the road and not on their phone.

In addition, the It Can Wait 3D virtual reality simulator visit to the Putnam County raises awareness for AAA’s 100 Deadliest Days for Drivers – the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day when teen crash fatalities historically climb. With more young and inexperienced drivers, motorcycles, farm vehicles and bicyclists on the road, as well as pedestrians, it’s a great reminder for teen drivers to put the phone down while driving.

WHEN:                 Tuesday, July 25, 10am – 4:30 pm

***At 10 a.m. there will be a short media briefing and photo opportunity to unveil the simulator to the public with Putnam County Executive Odell, Sheriff Smith, County Clerk Bartolotti and Regina Ennis of AT&T.

WHERE:               Putnam County DMV Parking Lot, Kern Building, 1 Geneva Drive, Brewster NY

WHAT:                 When you’re behind the wheel, everything can change in the blink of an eye. A post, a selfie, a text, a scroll, an email—one look is all it takes. This simulation shows the consequences of glancing at a phone while driving in a 3D fully-immersive experience.

People can also use their own smartphone to view the 360° experience at home.  To learn more, visit ItCanWait.com/VR.

The nationwide virtual reality simulator tour focuses on the dangers of smartphone distractions while driving and the unique virtual reality simulator experience is part of the AT&T It Can Wait campaign, which urges drivers to keep their eyes on the road, not on their phones. The campaign began with a focus on not texting and driving. It has now expanded to the broader dangers of smartphone use behind the wheel.

Since its launch in 2010, the It Can Wait campaign has:

  • Helped grow awareness of the dangers of smartphone distracted driving to nearly 90% of audiences surveyed.
  • Inspired more than 15 million pledges to not drive distracted.
  • Worked with departments of transportation in various states on research that suggests a correlation between IT CAN WAIT campaign activities and a reduction in crashes.
  • Collaborated with AT&T data scientists on research that shows how statewide anti-texting laws impact the rate of texting while driving.

VISUALS:

  • ·         3D virtual reality simulator
  • ·         Opportunity for reporters/videographers/photojournalists to experience simulator
  • ·         Interview opportunities with simulator “drivers,” Putnam County Executive Odell, Sheriff Smith, County Clerk Bartolotti and Ennis of AT&T.
  • ·         It Can Wait sizzle reel

 * AT&T products and services are provided or offered by subsidiaries and affiliates of AT&T Inc. under the AT&T brand and not by AT&T Inc.

 ** Research commissioned by AT&T and conducted by Braun Research. Polled 2,067 people in the U.S. aged 16-65 who use their smartphone and drive at least once a day. Additional information available here.

No Gruff from the New Kids at Tilly Foster

SOUTHEAST, NY – Tilly Foster Farm, which reopened to the public on June 3, 2017, continues to foster the historic farm’s heritage with the addition of Sophie (pictured left) and Juliet (right), two new Nigerian Dwarf goats. The pair, procured from Good Hope Farm in South Salem New York, will join fellow goats, Calvin and Hobbes, who came to Tilly Foster last December.

“We are excited to welcome Sophie and Juliet to the herd,” said Teresa De Angelis, veterinary technician and animal caretaker at Tilly Foster Farm. “The goats are acclimating to their new home and will be available for viewing by the public before the end of July.”

“The public reopening of Tilly Foster Farm makes available 199 acres of beautiful pastoral vistas, a hiking trail, community garden, charming farm animals and Tilly’s Table, a new event-based farm-to-table dining experience,” said Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell. “We are proud of this achievement and delighted to add Sophie and Juliet to our growing farm.”

Part of the revitalization of Tilly Foster Farm has been the return of small farm animals. Visitors can observe a beautiful array of chicken breeds, including Frizzle Cochin Bantams, Silkies, Polish, Red Stars, Barred Rock, Austrolorps, Brahmas and Ameraucanas, which lay blue eggs. The farm features friendly Kunekune pigs, Penelope, Ginger, Lucy and Levi, four Huacaya Alpacas named Honey, Isabella, Sinbad and Raphael, two miniature horses, Sultan and Sunny, and four Nigerian Dwarf goats, Calvin and Hobbes, and new friends, Sophie and Juliet.

Tilly Foster Farm is open to the public seven days a week, except for certain holidays. For more information and to make reservations for Sunday Brunch at Tilly’s Table, visit www.putnamtillyfoster.com or call 845-808-1840.