This is the time of year when political leaders provide status updates on their municipalities. For several years the North Country Chamber has hosted joint State of the County, Town and City addresses. This year due to the pandemic the event was held virtually.
The three civic leaders representing Clinton County and the town and city of Plattsburgh acknowledged the impact of the pandemic, and said there is a need for continued economic development and federal stimulus aid.
Republican Clinton County Legislature Chair Mark Henry says no one can discuss the state of their municipality without acknowledging the impact of the pandemic. He said the county cut costs and adopted a $165 million 2021 budget, a significant shift from 2020’s $174 million fiscal plan. “In January of 2020 our economy by almost any measure was red hot and had been for quite some time previous to that. I stood before you this time last year and predicted that 2020 could very well be a banner year for our county and our region. Then the pandemic struck in March. Economically it hurt Clinton County very badly. We were at that time predicting a potential 20% reduction in sales tax revenue to this county alone. We swiftly moved to make necessary budget adjustments. These actions coupled with the fact that sales tax receipts were higher than anticipated allowed us to ameliorate this fiscal crisis.”
First-term Democrat Chris Rosenquest was sworn in as mayor of Plattsburgh at the beginning of January. His state of the city focused on economic development, infrastructure and tourism. “When it comes to who we are as a community I think that’s probably one of the most difficult questions that we have to answer, that we’re going to have to answer in the next several years is who are we? Are we a community that says oh we’re landlocked and we don’t have developable land? You know I’m pretty confident that we can find opportunities for development that fit our community. We are a tourist driven economy. So leveraging that tourism and that tourism mentality not only positions our city and our community as a money-making opportunity or a revenue generating opportunity but also when we start to invest in those resources that attract tourism that’s also an investment into our quality of life.”
Supervisor Michael Cashman, a Democrat, says the Town of Plattsburgh is the region’s heart of commerce. He recalled his grandfather’s advice: own your challenges in order to direct change. He says the town’s Elevate Plattsburgh Smart Growth plan is leading the region in development even in the midst of the pandemic. “The town saw over 275-thousand square feet of new building even during a global pandemic, over 491 building permits for commercial and residential and this year over $25 million in value in the local economy. We’re very excited that because of our ability to recalibrate and keep our boards like the Zoning Board and the Planning Board and everyone else moving forward we were able to keep critical projects moving forward.”
Questions were submitted in advance and topics included how the communities can attract diverse populations to the area, and vaccine distribution.