Democrat Photo by John Emerson
TALLY OF ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Sullivan County Legislature Chairman Raymond Rusty Pomeroy II addresses the audience during his State of the County speech at the government center in Monticello Wednesday. To his left is the countys scorecard, tallying up various projects and plans over the years.
Pomeroy Believes State of County
Is Very Healthy Economically
By John Emerson
MONTICELLO March 17, 2000 -- Things are looking up in Sullivan County so much so that Sullivan County Legislature Chairman Rusty Pomeroy is worried that there are not enough qualified people to fill the jobs that will be coming online during the next few years.
Pomeroy made this revelation during his annual State of the County speech Wednesday evening at the Sullivan County Government Center. He called for a county Summit on Workforce Development to review four key elements infrastructure, housing, education and childcare that must be addressed to develop and retain an adequate workforce for the future.
The announcement that Sullivan County is running out of qualified employees came late in a wide-ranging speech that covered a variety of topics, from the Legislatures pay raise and improved government service through the purchase of agricultural development easements and the development of a rural transportation system, to the proposed St. Regis Mohawk casino and tourism. At the heart, however, Pomeroys speech centered on economic development.
Opening with a scorecard of economic indicators, Pomeroy said all of the indications are that Sullivan Countys economy is on the road to recovery. Unemployment figures are down, sales and mortgage tax revenues are at or near record levels, and county taxes over the last five years have decreased by a total of one percent, he said.
Pomeroy also announced the creation of a Citizens Advisory Commission to deal with the issue of legislative salaries. He said the decision to create the body was motivated by discussions with people throughout the county who agreed that the legislators deserved salary increases, but the manner in which the raise was passed late last year offended their sense of fairness.
There are many obstacles that we need to overcome together in order to make Sullivan County as good as we all want it to be, he said. A lack of confidence in the County Legislature must not be one of those obstacles.
Before announcing the Summit on Workforce Development, Pomeroy said that county officials met with the countys largest employers in December and learned that several hundred new jobs would be created over the next 18 months and that perhaps thousands more would follow shortly thereafter. He said the lack of adequate sewer, water and highway systems would hinder development if they were not addressed quickly. He also suggested that the county had an inadequate supply of available homes, aging and overcrowded schools and a severe lack of available childcare for working parents.
Among his suggestions under educational needs was a program to repay up to $5,000 in college loans for 20 Sullivan County high school graduates who agreed to return to Sullivan County and work here for at least two years after graduation. He also suggested tuition reimbursement for as many as 40 graduates of Sullivan County Community College.
If we are serious when we say, Our children are our future, then lets commit as seriously to them as we do to rebuilding our infrastructure, cleaning up the countys appearance and developing our economy, said Pomeroy.