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North Country Chamber hosts annual State of the County, Town and City presentations

Michael Cashman (left), Mark Henry (center) and Chris Rosenquest take questions after delivering the state of their municipality address
Pat Bradley
Michael Cashman (left), Mark Henry (center) and Chris Rosenquest take questions after delivering the state of their municipality address

The North Country Chamber of Commerce brought the leaders of Clinton County, and the town and city of Plattsburgh, together this morning.

The regional chamber has been hosting the trio of leaders for the annual “state of” the municipality addresses before community and business leaders. President and CEO Garry Douglas calls it an innovative idea that ties the communities together.

“We thought it would be great to have the three together. There would be power and synergy in that and perspective, to see things in the perspective of the other presentations and where they intersect and how they can help each other.”

Republican Clinton County Legislature Chair Mark Henry reported that the county is strong, confident and able to meet challenges. But they are currently confronting what he calls an immediate and serious challenge: Governor Kathy Hochul’s executive budget proposal to shift more of the cost of Medicaid from the state to localities. The state county association came out against the proposal this week.

“The governor proposes to shift billions of dollars in new costs to our local taxpayers. Medicaid continues to be the largest New York state mandate placed upon all county governments. The expense to our county is $16.6 million and is about 56-percent of this year’s tax levy. Should the governor’s plan go into effect, it will mean the immediate loss to Clinton County of about $1.4 million from this year’s budget and $2.5 million every year thereafter.”

Democratic City of Plattsburgh Mayor Chris Rosenquest reviewed three priority areas: economic growth, infrastructure and arts and culture. Rosenquest said the key thing the city will be considering in the coming year is housing.

“Whether it be low income, moderate, market rate, multi-unit, single family, regardless, we need housing. So this year we are looking at launching the code rewrite, the zoning code rewrite. The last time it was updated was in 2001. This is an antiquated zoning code that a lot of the developers that come into the city of Plattsburgh that want to develop can’t. Rewriting our zoning code will be the foundational work that’s going to define development over the next 10 years.”

Mayor Rosenquest also reviewed plans for rebuilding streets in the city’s two main business districts.

“Cornelia Street, it’s a DOT project to make it more accessible. And then Margaret Street. We’re about to tear it up. From the beginning I said it very clearly this is going to be a major interruption to our downtown. Major. The primary purpose of this is to replace 1903 water-sewer infrastructure that services one of the most critical business districts that we have in our city.”

Democratic Town of Plattsburgh Supervisor Michael Cashman offered a PowerPoint presentation outlining projects and plans. He says people and businesses are investing and reinvesting in the town.

“We have a responsibility to make sure that we can be there as a partner and we’re investing $24 million in our water and wastewater capital plan. This is a plan that has been active for the last several years. We have made significant progress. But also, where businesses move to is where infrastructure is. We also have plans that we’re activating and these are community driven plans. The Town of Plattsburgh leads with a community-centered vision. The Town’s position is strong. And most importantly the Town has planned, partnered and positioned itself to continue to elevate Plattsburgh in 2023 and beyond.”

During the meeting Chamber officials announced that state Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie formed a New York-Canada Task Force, which Democratic Assemblyman D. Billy Jones of the 115th District will chair.

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