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.”

Drewville Road Bridge Reopened

CARMEL, NY – Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell announces the reopening of the Drewville Road Bridge in Carmel. The New York State Department of Transportation has approved the reopening today, Friday, December 15, after the Putnam County Highways and Facilities Department completed the necessary repairs to the infrastructure.

“I am so proud of our highway department workers who came through as promised to have the bridge open in two weeks’ time, even under the recent harsh weather conditions,” said Odell. “Repairing our aging infrastructure is a priority for the county so we can ensure the safety of our residents.”

The highway department constructed temporary shoring for the bridge that will support the safe travel across the Drewville Road Bridge.

“The process required two weeks to make the repair,” explained Fred Pena, Highways and Facilities Commissioner. “Week 1 included designing the shoring, gathering equipment and material, obtaining permits and developing a work plan. During Week 2 the execution of the repair was done.”

A full replacement of the Drewville Road Bridge is scheduled for 2019.

Putnam County awarded $1.2 million for Danbury-Brewster sewer project

CARMEL, NY – Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell announced that the Danbury-Brewster sewer project has been awarded $1.2 million in New York State funding. The project, which extends the Danbury sewer line over the state border and through the Route 6 corridor of Brewster, was granted Empire State Development money through the consolidated funding application (CFA) process.

“Being awarded this funding confirms the significance of the Danbury-Brewster sewer project and its potential long-term impact on Putnam County’s economic vitality,” said Odell. “We have to put the proper infrastructure in place within our commercial districts to ensure a growing business community. In addition, the sewer line would result in equally benefiting improved water quality within the NYC watershed, higher quality of life for area residents and spurring economic growth in the region.”

The Empire State Development funding supports economic development initiatives and projects that create or retain jobs, generate increased economic activity and improve the economic and social viability of local communities.

“I was delighted to learn we were awarded $1.2 million through the competitive CFA process. The Danbury-Brewster sewer project has the potential to be the most cutting-edge and progressive project ever put forth by Putnam County government,” said Leg. Ginny Nacerino, chairwoman of the Putnam County Legislature.  “Bringing this project to fruition will be life-changing for the residents of Putnam County and will help the Route 6 corridor reach its maximum potential.  It will enhance our quality of life by providing convenience and ultimately will help to offset taxes. I am proud to work with my colleagues and the Administration as we continue to serve the residents and deliver projects that support a better Putnam.”

The sewer line will connect 3.5 miles of commercially zoned land to the City of Danbury’s sewer system, which has excess capacity.

“Investing in our local infrastructure will not only support economic development, but also improve quality of life for our residents,” said Senator Terrence Murphy. “As always, it is a pleasure to support the work of County Executive MaryEllen Odell and Putnam County’s community-minded officials and back the CFA process, which is delivering more than a million dollars for this essential construction project. Extending the sewer line along the Route 6 commercial corridor is an important investment that will pay dividends in the years to come.”

Assemblyman Kevin Byrne agreed. “This worthwhile investment will help support any future construction of mid-to-large commercial enterprises here in Putnam County,” he said. “I am pleased to see the state agreed with us and sees the shared benefits of this project for the region.”

The Danbury-Brewster sewer line will also strengthen the Brewster revitalization effort.

“The news of the CFA grant is exciting news for the commercial property owners along the Route 6 corridor,” said Legislator Paul Jonke, District 6, which includes the business district.  “They are a step closer to maximizing the potential of this under-utilized area of Brewster. The news of the grant is a big win for the taxpayers, whom will benefit by increasing the property tax base as well as the potentially increased sales tax revenue.”

Brewster Mayor James Schoenig said, “The Village of Brewster is honored to be part of this cooperative effort transforming Putnam County into a shining 21st century economic engine.”

The creation of the Danbury-Brewster sewer line will bring construction jobs to Putnam County.

“The Northeast Regional Council of Carpenter is excited to see the Route 6 corridor open up between Brewster and Danbury which would bring much needed commerce and job creation to Putnam County,” said council representative Ed Cooke.

News of the award was welcomed by the business community.

“Since the day County Executive MaryEllen Odell was elected into office she has made infrastructure and economic development a priority and it is starting to pay off,” said Jennifer Maher, chairwoman of the Putnam Chamber of Commerce. “I am excited to be working with this administration on other similar projects that will better our ability to attract the businesses we need to offset our property taxes and to improve upon the overall business climate.”

Brewster Chamber of Commerce President Geoffrey Reinwald congratulates the county on receiving the funding. “The Brewster Chamber hopes the development that will take place on Danbury Road will bring more businesses, more people and more jobs,” he said.

The grant application was submitted by Sandra Fusco, acting director, Putnam County Planning, Development and Public Transportation Department, and her staff.

“It is due to Sandra’s efforts to research and apply for this grant, along with her expertise in completing a very tedious and comprehensive application, which enabled the county to achieve this award,” said Odell. “I also want to thank Putnam County Chairwoman Ginny Nacerino, Legislator Paul Jonke as well as Meghan Taylor and the Mid-Hudson Regional Economic Development Council for their steadfast support of this project.”

The Danbury-Brewster sewer project was one of the initiatives that Meghan Taylor, who is the regional director of the Mid-Hudson Regional Economic Development Council, identified while she served as the president of the Putnam County Economic Development Corporation.

“Seeing progress from the ideas that we planted while I was with the Putnam EDC in 2015 is incredible,” said Taylor. “The Danbury-Brewster sewer line is not only good for Putnam County, but for the Mid-Hudson Region.  It will reverse the decline of Putnam County’s economic stability and provide public sewer to a major thoroughfare. The sewer line supports the Mid-Hudson Regional Economic Development Council’s focus of regionally transformational projects that move the region forward.”

Defend the Holiday program, a joint effort with United for the Troops that will supply comfort packages to those serving overseas in the U.S. Armed Forces

During this season of giving, we need to remember that our greatest gift is that of freedom. I have launched the Defend the Holiday program, a joint effort with United for the Troops that will supply comfort packages to those serving overseas in the U.S. Armed Forces.

For a $15 donation, a care package will be sent to a soldier overseas on your behalf or that of a loved one of your choice.  You will be given a card acknowledging the gift.

United for the Troops was founded by Jim and Patty Rathschmidt of Mahopac with the help of friends and families whose sons and daughters are serving overseas. Its sole purpose is to make life while away from home a little better for these brave men and women. Some of the items include cookies, DVDs, CDs, snacks, t-shirts, and other food items. Following numerous conversations with service men and women, the group found out that the military provides soldiers with the essentials for day- to-day life and many of them miss the extra amenities that they enjoy while at home. United for the Troops’ goal is to show them that we are proud of them and appreciate all of their efforts in areas of the world.

Cards can be reserved by submitting the form found at http://www.putnamcountyny.com/carepackage/.

Payment for the stocking cards must be sent or brought to Terry Oliver, my

Confidential Secretary.

40 Gleneida Avenue

Carmel, NY  10512

Terry can be reached at 845-808-1001 with any questions.

Please have your card bought by December 21st.

Putnam Accepting Applications for 2018 PILOT Program Student Internship Program

Putnam Accepting Applications for 2018 PILOT Program Student Internship Program

Carmel, NY – Putnam County students can apply for paid and unpaid summer internships in county government through the Putnam Invests in Leaders of Tomorrow (PILOT) Program as of Friday, Dec. 1.  Now entering its fifth year, the concept of the PILOT Program was first introduced by County Executive MaryEllen Odell and continues to be supported by the Putnam County Legislature.

“I am so proud of the PILOT Program. Our interns work on real projects and are able to get a genuine sense of what it is like to work in one of the 25 county departments.” said Odell. “By having the interns, we are investing in the future workforce of the county government and may inspire some of these youths to potentially be community leaders or county officials, right here in Putnam, later in their lives.”

Since its inception, hundreds of Putnam County youth have participated in the PILOT program.

Eligible participants must be Putnam County residents who are graduate, college, or high school students in their junior or senior year.  Applicants must be at least 16 years of age. For college students a GPA of 3.0 or higher is recommended.

The 2018 Summer PILOT program will run from May through August, depending on student availability.  Internship hours, are typically 28 hours a week, and will be coordinated with Department supervisors.

Online filing instructions are posted on the Putnam County website at www.putnamcountyny.com/internapply. The application consideration deadline for students is Wednesday, January 31, 2017.

For more information, contact Putnam County Personnel, Adriene Iasoni at 845-808-1650 ext. 46625 or adriene.iasoni@putnamcountyny.gov

Odell hosts meet and greet with Danbury Mayor Boughton

BREWSTER, NY – Recognizing the partnership between the City of Danbury and Putnam County, County Executive MaryEllen Odell welcomed Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton to Tilly’s Table on Thursday, Nov. 14 to casually meet with Putnam community leaders and officials.

“Mayor Boughton understands that you cannot let boundaries prevent progress,” said Odell. “By crossing the New York-Connecticut state line we are able to work together and improve both communities.”

Odell and her administration have been in talks with officials from Danbury on social and economic issues. Most significantly, the two municipalities are working to extend the Danbury sewer line into Southeast along the Route 6 corridor.

“Living in a silo from your neighbor limits your potential,” said Boughton. “Being able to collaborate with County Executive Odell has ignited new ideas on how we can better serve our residents while being able to save our taxpayers money.”

Boughton, who serving his eighth consecutive term as the mayor of Danbury, set up an exploratory committee to consider a 2018 Connecticut gubernatorial run.


Putnam agrees to sue pharmaceutical companies over opioid epidemic

CARMEL, NY –  Determined to battle the cause of the opioid crisis in Putnam, County Executive MaryEllen Odell urged the Legislature to allow the government to join various states and counties across the country in filing lawsuits against both pharmaceutical companies and distributors, which have created the nationwide opioid epidemic through the fraudulent and negligent marketing and distribution of opioid pain medications.

“New York State has been one of the hardest hit states in the nation, with the rate of prescription and heroin overdoses exceeding almost every other state in the country; and Putnam County is not immune from it,” said Odell. “Through our One Army in the War Against Addiction the county has worked with law enforcement agencies and many not-for-profit organizations to fight the battle within our communities through awareness, education and enforcement, but we need to do more.”

She added. “As president of the New York Association of Counties, I think it is imperative that we learn from the tobacco lawsuits if the 1990s and collectively go after the source of the prescription opioid epidemic—the pharmaceutical manufactures and distributors, and hold them accountability for the fraudulent and negligent practices they engaged in which caused immeasurable harm to Putnam County residents and taxpayers.”

At a special full legislature meeting held on Tuesday, Nov. 21, the Legislature voted 8-0, with legislator Dini LoBue absent, to have the law firm of Napoli Shkolnik PLLC to represent Putnam County’s interests in the New York Opioid Cost Recovery litigation.

Napoli Shkolnik, which has recently been named co-lead council in the coordinated opioid litigation, has been investigating potential claims on behalf of both individuals and governmental entities against pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors. The law firm recommends that claims for deceptive acts and practices, false advertising, public nuisance, fraud, unjust enrichment, as well as other State specific violations be brought against the largest manufacturers and marketers of opioid. Those companies include: Purdue Pharmaceuticals, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, Inc., Johnson and Johnson, and Endo Pharmaceuticals, as well as the largest distributors of these drugs, including McKesson Corp., Cardinal health Inc. and AmerisourceBergen Corp.

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

“I believe everyone has known someone, directly or indirectly, affected by the devastation of opioids,” said Leg. Ginny Nacerino, chairwoman of the Putnam County Legislature.  “The Legislature’s 8-0 support of this resolution speaks volumes to the value we place on the health, safety and welfare of our residents and has little to do with monetary gain.  We are proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with our neighbors to fight those responsible for the opioid epidemic which has plagued and devastated our communities.  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.”

In addition to Putnam, other New York counties participating in the lawsuit include: Broome, Dutchess, Eerie, Genesee, Nassau, Niagara, Orange, Saratoga, Schenectady, Seneca, Sullivan and Suffolk.