DUTCHESS COUNTY, N.Y. -- County Executive Marc Molinaro laid out his vision for Dutchess County at his 2017 State of the County Address, calling the state of Dutchess County "strong."
Molinaro discussed a wide range of issues, from Dutchess' economic development to offering better services to seniors to how the county can combat drug abuse during his speech Thursday at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park. Molinaro, who has not ruled out running for governor in 2018, also took some swipes at state government.
"New York does not make it easy to create a business or create new job opportunities," Molinaro said. "We, though, are doing all we that we can. In Dutchess, we have recognized and redefined our economic development efforts.
The county executive said Dutchess is becoming a first class destination while working to provide opportunities for those in Dutchess. Any construction project that receives economic incentives must hire 80 percent of its employees from the area, and contractors are required to set up a local training program.
Molinaro said the state could learn from its model of shared services that has led to the county's tax levy being reduced three years in a row.
"We don't need the State of New York or Andrew Cuomo imposing on us, lecturing us or mandating we spend your hard-earned dollars on massive state programs we have limited ability to change," Molinaro said. "We are willing to be the state's partner, but we will not be their scapegoat."
In Dutchess County, too many lives are being lost to opioid and heroin abuse, Molinaro said. Molinaro said they will continue to train law enforcement, educate students and families and provide help for those on the road to recovery. Molinaro also wants to expand and better promote drop-off points for pain medication.
"As much good as we do, there is much more to be done," Molinaro said.
When it comes to helping seniors, the county has expanded meal delivery to five days a week and is looking to construct a senior services center. The state has already committed $1 million in funding.
"Our goal is to develop an integrated senior center platform that can be replicated across the state...and serve our seniors as they ought to be served," Molinaro said.
Molinaro said he hopes to finalize an agreement to keep the Hudson Valley Renegades in Dutchess longterm and wants to make county and municipal parks universally accessible.
"We are one interrelated family bound together," Molinaro said. "We don't look for reasons to argue, we find new ways to partner. We aren't defined by what knocks us down, but how we lift each other up. Think Dutchess. It's where relationships are built, stories shared, pains are shouldered and successes celebrated. Think Dutchess. Think of who we are. Think Dutchess."