Lake Carmel Fire Department has been working at a large mulch fire in the Town of Kent

The Lake Carmel Fire Department has been working at a large mulch fire in the Town of Kent on Private Property. At this time there is no imminent threat of wide spread or severe damage to property or life. The Putnam County Bureau of Emergency Services has been working in conjunction with the local fire departments supporting their effort to contain the fire and is poised to respond accordingly in the event that conditions change.  Appropriate State agencies have been contacted and we continue to monitor the situation.

Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell presented a $165.3 million proposed 2020 county budget to the Legislature Thursday at the Putnam County Golf Course

Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell presented a $165.3 million proposed 2020 county budget to the Legislature Thursday at the Putnam County Golf Course in Mahopac.

The budget, which is within the New York State tax cap, represents a $5.9 million or 3.7 percent spending increase over the 2019 budget and reflects the conservative spending that has been the hallmark of Odell’s tenure.

Just last month, Moody’s Investor Services upgraded Putnam’s bond rating to Aa1, citing the county’s disciplined budgeting approach. As a result of the superior rating, the county just issued $3.3 million in refunding bonds, saving taxpayers $151,000.

“It should be noted that Aa1 is a designation only five out of 62 counties in the state have achieved,” Odell told the crowd of more than 150 that attended the public meeting. “And that’s something that the Legislature and the administration and, of course, the employees who deliver services every day should be very proud of.”

Since Odell took office in 2011, the county has reduced long-term debt by $24.4 million or 28 percent and eliminated short-term debt entirely.

The average Putnam County homeowner, whose property is assessed at $302,000, would pay about $1,082 in county taxes under the proposed 2020 budget.

“We look forward to working together to craft a budget that is fair to Putnam County residents, taxpayers and employees,” Joseph Castellano, chairman of the Legislature, said. “The Legislature will scrutinize the proposed budget as closely as we watch spending all year long, while still supporting the programs and services that make Putnam such a great place to live. Together, we will make sure that even the most difficult decisions are the right decisions.”

There are six categories of spending in the county budget, $113 million of which is mandated and $51.7 million discretionary.

Quality of life initiatives would be funded with $9.1 million under the plan. This includes parks and recreation; the youth bureau; and outside agencies like libraries and Putnam County SPCA, Putnam Arts Society, the Southeast Museum, Putnam County Fish and Game, Cornell Cooperative Extension and Putnam CAP.

Infrastructure is budgeted at $12.1 million, and includes senior transportation; road and bridge maintenance; and investment in new projects in every corner of the county, from the Maybrook bikeway to Farmers Mills Road bridge and more.

Heath and education services would be funded at $25.1 million, which includes the Health Department; solid waste and recycling; and $10.6 million for early intervention and pre-kindergarten for young children with special needs and $3.2 million for community college costs.

Public safety is budgeted for $37.9 million, which covers the Sheriff’s Department; the jail; and the Bureau of Emergency Services.

Economic assistance and promotions are budgeted at $38.8 million, including $9.6 million for Medicaid, a mandated program that is the single largest line item in the budget; the Economic Development Corporation; the Industrial Development Agency and the new Putnam County Tourism Department.

General government support would be budgeted at $42.3 million and cover medical benefits for employees and retirees; county departments and support services, such as the Board of Elections, which required a 20 percent increase in order to provide mandated early voting; and debt service among other costs.

Odell noted that overall health insurance costs for active employees and retirees increased by $1.3 million, which is more than the entire state tax cap.

“For 2020, the tax cap allows us to raise the tax levy up to $1.2 million,” Odell said.  “Before we even started, one line-item – employee and retiree health insurance — blew our cap.”

In Odell’s eight years in office, the county has never exceeded the property tax cap and this year is no different. Increased revenue keeps the proposed budget within the cap.

Sales tax would be the largest contributor to the revenue side, at $64.4 million or 39 percent of revenue. Property taxes will make up only $44.6 million or 27 percent. State and Federal reimbursements will bring in up $30.2 million or 18 percent, while revenue generated by county departments is expected to reach $23 million or 14 percent of the budget. The budget would use $3.1 million of the general fund balance.

“This budget checks all the boxes,” Odell said. “It does deliver the quality of life services, it provides the mandated services, keeps Putnam healthy, maintains a fiscally responsible vision and meets the needs of our retirees, the department heads and the employees who show up every day and do their best for the county. I am grateful for the hard work and support of the Legislature and look forward to working together on a shared vision of the future.”

Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell has appointed Lauri Taylor as Coordinator of the county’s new Climate Smart Communities Initiative

Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell has appointed Lauri Taylor as Coordinator of the county’s new Climate Smart Communities Initiative.

“Lauri Taylor has spent years protecting the environment in Putnam County,” Odell said. “She has the spirit and experience that make her the right choice to lead the county’s effort to reduce greenhouse gases and adapt to a changing climate.”

Taylor currently serves as the Senior Environmental Planner for Putnam County as well as the District Manager for the Putnam County Soil and Water Conservation District, positions that make her uniquely qualified to head the Climate Smart Communities Initiative, Odell said. As Senior Environmental Planner, Taylor has overseen long-range planning studies to preserve our natural resources and partnered with the municipalities to assess the environmental impacts of capital projects throughout the county.

In her role as manager of the Soil and Water Conservation District, Taylor has worked with the Legislature, town governments, landowners and residents to address soil erosion, site reviews and other conservation projects.

Through her educational outreach to the community, Taylor has developed strong relationships with stakeholders in the Highways & Facilities Department, the Planning Department and others that will help facilitate the work of the Climate Smart Communities Initiative and will work closely with the Task Force to achieve the Climate Smart Communities Goals, Odell said.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to protect our natural resources and help the county reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” Taylor said. “There couldn’t be a more important job.”

In addition to naming Taylor as Coordinator, Odell has selected the Capital Projects Committee to serve as the Climate Smart Communities Task Force. The Capital Projects Committee sets priorities and evaluates the feasibility, cost and method of financing for all of the county’s proposed capital projects. The committee has overseen an energy audit of county buildings and is preparing to upgrade nearly 20 county facilities with energy saving measures, such as adding new solar arrays, converting from oil to natural gas, replacing windows and antiquated HVAC systems and upgrading to smart building management technology. Given its experience, Odell said designating the Capital Projects Committee to serve as the task force was the logical step.

“The committee is trained to take a comprehensive approach, and that’s what you need in order to be truly climate-smart,” Odell said. “It will examine future county policies with an eye toward reducing greenhouse gases, increasing energy efficiencies, promoting job growth and improving the quality of life.”

The Climate Smart Communities initiative is a program of the state Department of Environmental Conservation. If the county achieves the department’s Climate Smart Communities certification, Putnam will be eligible for funding through New York State Energy Research and Development Authority’s (NYSERDA) Clean Energy Communities program. The certification will also make Putnam a stronger candidate for other state environmental grants and further demonstrate County Executive Odell’s commitment to protecting the environment and health of our beautiful county.

Free Smoking Cessation Offered in Putnam

Most Successful Quitters Have Failed Before

BREWSTER, NY- Putnam county residents have a new chance to take the first steps toward a tobacco-free life. The Putnam County Department of Health (PCDOH) will offer residents a free smoking cessation program, with a group “Quit Day” falling on the eve of the Great American Smokeout, November 21. According to the American Cancer Society, smoking remains the single largest preventable cause of death and illness in the world. Locally, smoking remains a major health concern. While only 11.7% of residents in the Mid-Hudson Valley are smokers, 18.3% of Putnam County residents smoke, according to the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System survey from 2016.

The American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout is an annual event that encourages and offers support to smokers to make a plan to quit smoking or, for some, to quit smoking on the day of the event – the third Thursday in November each year. Quitting smoking isn’t easy and the PCDOH is supporting residents with an evidence-based approach to kicking the habit. This autumn, Putnam residents can come together to make a change that could save their lives. The eight-week Freedom From Smoking (FFS) program starts October 30, and continues every Wednesday, from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m., at the health department’s main office at 1 Geneva Road, Brewster. The last class is on December 18.

The group leader is a FFS/American Lung Association-certified facilitator from the health department. The sessions start with discussions and guidance for preparing and planning to quit. Each person’s experience with quitting smoking is different. The FFS program uses proven activities and tools to help participants understand their own relationship with tobacco—and how to enjoy a tobacco-free life. Nicotine replacement products (NRT) such as the patch and gum will be available, also for free, while supplies last. Using NRT is encouraged, and will be discussed in detail as part of the program, but it is not required.

“While there are currently 16 million Americans living with a smoking-related disease, we know that the benefits to quitting smoking are almost immediately measurable. After just 12 hours the carbon monoxide level in your blood drops to normal. Somewhere between 2 weeks to 3 months your circulation improves, and your lung function increases,” says Health Commissioner Michael J. Nesheiwat, MD.

Widely regarded as the gold standard in quit-smoking programs, the FFS program was created by the American Lung Association, an organization with more than 50 years of experience helping smokers quit. Some smokers feel hopeless after unsuccessful attempts at quitting. The FFS Program recognizes these feelings are part of the journey to become a non-smoker and stresses the fact that most successful quitters have failed at it before. The program empowers participants to create their own path to success by instilling strategies for managing stress, avoiding weight gain and staying active during their quit, and after.

Pre-registration is required, as group size is limited. More information on the program can be found online at www.freedomfromsmoking.org. For more information or to pre-register, contact the Putnam County Department of Health at (845) 808-1390, ext. 43155.

The mission of the Putnam County Department of Health, nationally accredited by the Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB), is to improve and protect the health of the Putnam County community, composed of nearly 100,000 residents. Core services include community health assessment, disease surveillance and control, emergency preparedness, environmental health protection, family health promotion and health education. For more information, please visit our County website at www.putnamcountyny.com ; or visit our social media sites on Facebook at www.facebook.com/putnamhealth  and Twitter @PutnamHealthNY.

Household Hazardous Waste Drop-Off Day Scheduled for Saturday, October 5

BREWSTER, NY—Putnam County will hold a Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) Drop-Off Day for Putnam County residents on Saturday, October 5. The Putnam County Department of Health and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) are co-sponsoring the FREE event, scheduled from 9 am to 2 pm (rain or shine) at Fahnestock State Park, Canopus Beach Parking Lot at 1498 Route 301 in Kent, NY. Pre-registration is required.

Improper storage or disposal of hazardous waste poses a health risk to residents and their families. For this reason, the HHW Drop-Off Day event continues to be maintained in the budget by County Executive MaryEllen Odell as an opportunity for Putnam residents to safely dispose of certain toxic materials.

The health of the community is paramount and all waste brought to the event is subject to inspection. Residents bringing in items that are deemed to present a threat to residents, workers or the environment may be held responsible for the costs of any additional safety measures taken.

Items accepted include household products that can typically be purchased in a hardware, grocery or big box store, including cleaners, pesticides, herbicides, oil-based paint (not latex), solvents, thinners, mothballs, rodent poisons, gasoline, kerosene and small propane tanks (up to 20 pound size). For a more complete list of acceptable items, see “Special Wastes” on the Green Putnam webpage at https://www.putnamcountyny.com/green-putnam/.

Disposal items must be labeled and identifiable to be accepted. Items not accepted include: water-based paints (latex/acrylic), used motor oil, plastic bags, household alkaline batteries, tires, or electronic waste. Materials that are commercial or industrial type or quantity will not be accepted.  Items packed into garbage or lawn bags will also not be accepted. Latex paints can be discarded by routine means, after they have been dried out.

Register early to reserve a spot. For questions or to register, contact the Putnam County Department of Health at (845) 808-1390 or by emailing your 3 preferred times (every 15 minutes beginning at 9 a.m.) along with your town of residence to PutnamHealth@putnamcountyny.gov. You will be sent an email with additional information to confirm your registration. If you do not receive a confirmation email within 2 business days, please call the above number.

For information regarding electronic waste disposal, call your local town. Please note that household hazardous waste items are not accepted at the town electronic waste drop-off locations.

The mission of the Putnam County Department of Health, nationally accredited by the Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB), is to improve and protect the health of the Putnam County community, composed of nearly 100,000 residents. Core services include community health assessment, disease surveillance and control, emergency preparedness, environmental health protection, family health promotion and health education. For more information, please visit our County website at www.putnamcountyny.com; or visit our social media sites on Facebook at www.facebook.com/putnamhealth  and Twitter @PutnamHealthNY.

Health Department Issues Violation

Below is a response to inquiries made to the Putnam County Department of Health from the Journal News on September 16.

First, in response to DEP’s report of the field inspection which it conducted on September 4, 2019, an inspector from the PCDOH performed a site inspection on September 5, 2019 to investigate the observance of kitchen wastewater on the ground at the back door.  At the time of the inspection, no water was observed on the ground at the back door of the kitchen (except for a couple of small rain water puddles). The inspector discussed with the restaurant staff that no mop water or other wastewater could be dumped in the back outdoor area and that all mop water must be dumped into the kitchen mop sink or the toilet.  Since he did not witness any mop water or wastewater on the ground or any leaks at the time of inspection, no violations were written.  DEP was subsequently notified of this fact and the complaint was closed out by them.  However, the PCDOH continues to monitor this situation and this condition to ensure that wastewater is not being discharged from the kitchen.  In fact, a follow up inspection was performed this afternoon and no evidence of improper waste water dumping or sewage/septic discharge was observed.

Second, with respect to the use of the sewer system to the property, a copy of DEP’s field inspection report, which is dated September 9, 2019, was emailed to the PCDOH on September 11, 2019.  A review of the matter was conducted and it has been determined that a violation of the Putnam County Sanitary Code and the 1993 approvals has occurred.  As such, a Notice of Non-Compliance is being issued to the property owners by the PCDOH.  Said Notice affords the property owner 30 days to achieve compliance before enforcement proceedings will be commenced.

Regardless of the above, the County does not have the ability to disconnect the sewer line, as it does not maintain jurisdiction over DEP’s wastewater treatment plant or the Town’s collection system.  It is our understanding that the cap on the force main in the manhole at the intersection of 6N and Clarke Place which was removed is either the property of the Town or DEP and that any recapping would therefore need to be addressed by them.

A retraction request was made on September 18 to clarify certain misrepresentations:

An email communication was sent to David Wilson and three (3) separate editors last evening from the Putnam County Attorney explaining that your newspaper that Mr. Wilson had misrepresented certain facts which were provided to him in writing by a secretary in the County Executive’s Office.  Specifically, you were advised that the email message was simply a recitation of the facts as outlined by a representative of that Department and that both the Commissioner of the Department of Health and his confidential secretary were absent from the office on the date that the inquiry was made, and as such, were not available to craft a response to your inquiries.  Therefore, the County Executive’s Office simply passed along a summary of what had occurred from the Department of Health’s perspective, a fact which was made plainly clear in that email.   As is also made clear in that email, all of the actions which were taken by the County of Putnam were taken by and through the Department of Health, as that is the agency with jurisdiction in this matter, and not by the County Executive’s Office.

Despite the foregoing, however, and despite having had this information at the time that your newspaper apparently went to print, Mr. Wilson led with a headline on page 1 below the fold that states “County Executive cites Barile for Violating Permit”, which is both factually inaccurate and misleading.  Once again, and in an effort to make this as clear as possible to you, the County Executive has absolutely no jurisdiction to cite anyone for a violation of the Putnam County Sanitary Code.  Mr. Wilson understood this fact at the time that you allowed him to go to print, since the article itself states that “a notice of non-compliance is being issued to the property owners by the Putnam County Department of Health”.  Including a headline that is misleading could potentially confuse your readers.

On behalf of the Putnam County Department of Health, I would therefore request that a retraction be printed to correct this error and to correctly inform the public as to the true nature of the facts of this case.

Planning Study to Explore Feasibility of Commuter Train from Southeast, NY to Danbury, CT

Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell has secured $1 million from the New York Metropolitan Transportation Council (NYMTC) to study the feasibility of restoring passenger train service along a 13.5 mile stretch of a rail line from the Southeast, NY train station to Danbury, CT.
Reconnecting the old Beacon Line could relieve traffic congestion on the I-84/684 corridor, reduce air pollution and shorten the ride to New York City for many residents, said Odell, who sat as co-chair of NYMTC for 2016 and 2017.
“As leaders, we recognize that we have the responsibility to do our part for climate-smart initiatives, and partnerships give us the opportunity to implement change,” she said. “Mobility for everyone, from millennials to seniors, is a priority for strong economic growth.”
Putnam County and Metro-North Railroad requested the $1 million in matched funding earlier this year from NYMTC, through the Unified Planning Work Program. The Resolution in connection with this project was adopted this month by the Executive Council, NYMTC. Putnam County will assist Metro-North with the conduct of the study, which will look at economic, environmental and operational impacts of running trains along the Southeast-Danbury corridor.
The line, which runs from Beacon, NY to Danbury is mostly inactive. Metro-North uses the line’s 41 miles of track in New York State to move equipment and for maintenance operations. The Housatonic Railroad owns the Connecticut portion of the line.
The study is expected to take up to two years.

Putnam County’s annual September 11th Candle Light Vigil Wednesday, September 11th at 1 Fair Street, Carmel at 8:00pm

Putnam County’s annual September 11th Candle Light Vigil will be held on Wednesday, September 11th at the Putnam Heroes Memorial located at Corner Stone Park, 1 Fair Street, Carmel at 8:00pm.

In the Vigil, we remember those eight citizens of Putnam County who died at the World Trade Center on September 11th, 2001 and the seven Putnam citizens who have passed as a result of their actions in the aftermath of that faithful day. This years’ service will include a dedication of two additional names to the Memorial. The two names being added are; Mahopac resident, Lieutenant Thomas Roberts L-40, FDNY and Carmel resident, Detective Thomas Lyons, Bronx Narcotics, NYPD.

For those wishing to attend, preceding the Candle Light vigil there will be a Mass of Remembrance at Saint James the Apostle Church, 14 Gleneida Ave, Carmel at 7:00pm

Legal Notice – Public Hearing on Tentative 2020 Budget

LEGAL NOTICE

NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that the Budget and Finance Committee of the Legislature of the County of Putnam will hold a Public Hearing on the Tentative Budget for the year 2020 on Thursday, October 3, 2019 at 8:00 P.M., or immediately following the County Executive’s Budget Presentation to the Committee, whichever occurs first, at Putnam Golf, Inc., 187 Hill Street, Mahopac, New York.

NOTICE IS ALSO GIVEN that any interested persons may review a copy of the Tentative Budget for the year 2020 at the Office of the Clerk of the Putnam County Legislature, Room 321, 40 Gleneida Avenue, Carmel, New York, any time during regular business hours after October 1, 2019 or on the Putnam County Finance Department’s website by close of business day October 2, 2019.

BY ORDER OF THE PUTNAM COUNTY LEGISLATURE

Diane Schonfeld
Clerk of the Legislature

Public Hearing September 25th at 4:30 P.M. & 6:30 P.M. To Amend Article 5 of the Putnam County Charter Entitled “Executive Department” by adding a new Section 5.04 Entitled “Department of Tourism”, which was adopted by the Putnam County Legislature on September 3, 2019 by Resolution R#194.

NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that a public hearing will be held before the County Executive of the County of Putnam at Room 300 of the County Office Building, 40 Gleneida Avenue, Carmel, New York 10512 on the 25th day of  September at  4:30 p.m. and again at 6:30 p.m. concerning:

A LOCAL LAW

To Amend Article 5 of the Putnam County Charter Entitled “Executive Department” by adding a new Section 5.04 Entitled “Department of Tourism”, which was adopted by the Putnam County Legislature on September 3, 2019 by Resolution R#194.

This Local Law amends Article 5 of the Putnam County Charter, by adding a new Section 5.04 entitled “Department of Tourism” which outlines the structure of the new department, including   the powers and duties of the newly created position of “Director of Tourism”.

Copies of the Local Law are available at the Office of the Putnam County Legislature, Room 313, 40 Gleneida Avenue, Carmel, New York 10512.

At the aforesaid time and place all persons interested in the subject matter thereof will be heard concerning same.  Comments will also be accepted via regular mail submitted to the above referenced address, electronic mail to PutnamCountyExecutive@putnamcountyny.gov  and facsimile to (845)808-1901.

This Local Law shall take immediately upon filing with the New York Secretary of State.

Dated: September 6, 2019
Carmel, New York

Jennifer S. Bumgarner
Putnam County Attorney

CLICK TO VIEW RESOLUTION: 194 – LOCAL LAW TO AMEND ARTICLE 5 OF THE PC CHARTER ENTITLED EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENT BY ADDING A NEW SECTION 5.04 DEPARTMENT OF TOURISM