'State of the County is Good:' Cunningham
By Dan Hust
MONTICELLO March 2, 2007 Sullivan County Legislature Chair Chris Cunningham began his fourth annual State of the County speech on a positive note, arguing that the county is moving forward through a challenging future.
To prove that point, he gave examples that included the Prescription Drug Discount Card Plan, the Veteran’s Outreach Counselor, an improved bond rating and new County Manager David Fanslau.
Cunningham also focused on the present, lauding the recently approved agreement to increase the pay of Sullivan County Sheriff’s Deputies, the continuing fight against Medicaid fraud, the historically low unemployment rate and the “Made in the Sullivan County Catskills” marketing campaign.
But the reason most of the 200 audience members attended Tuesday’s speech likely had to do with the future, and Cunningham made many a promise.
He proposed the creation of the Sullivan County Council of Governments, modeled after a similar program in Tompkins County where representatives of every level of government meet to share and discuss issues.
He pledged continuing support of the coming Green Tech Park at Sullivan County Community College, along with proposed casinos in the Monticello area.
The Endangered Property Protection Plan has been developed, he said, to blend the Countywide Flood Management Plan with the Open Space Preservation Initiative, which would allow the county to buy out flood-prone properties to mitigate damage and preserve open areas.
Defending the county’s decision to seek a half-percent sales tax increase, Cunningham said the additional $6 million in revenue would be earmarked to improve the county’s creditworthiness so as to borrow money at better rates for huge projects like the new jail.
A portion of that revenue, he added, would be dedicated to public safety, public works and property protection plans.
“This Legislature has a record that speaks for itself,” he concluded. “We have governed more effectively and openly than at any other time since I have been here. We have given the people unprecedented access to this government, and the government did not come crashing down. We have created a government that acts with courage and determination for the citizens of this county.”