The chair of the Clinton County Legislature, Town of Plattsburgh Supervisor and Mayor of the city of Plattsburgh all delivered speeches about the state of their municipalities at a chamber-sponsored breakfast Thursday morning.
This is the fourth year the North Country Chamber has hosted combined states of the County, City and Town. Chamber President Garry Douglas says they believed it would be better to hear from all three during a single coordinated event. “Each had been independently doing their presentations. We thought it would be good to pull the business and community leadership together to hear all three at one time and to see the synergies and the shared opportunities that cross amongst the three and the ways they're working together, the ways they can work together. And I think it's been productive in that way as well as informative.”
The first to present was the new chair of the Clinton County Legislature. Republican Mark Henry was named chair January 6th and he focused on the county’s success and sense of optimism. “The county remains strong and we are optimistic about our future. We continue to produce a low and stable tax rate that residents and businesses can rely on. As an example, the 2020 county budget resulted in the lowest tax rate in 10 years. We are optimistic because Clinton County is well placed to compete. But we are not without our challenges. Early projections on the Medicaid proposal would result in about a million dollar hit to Clinton County. No matter the challenges to Clinton County we look to our future with confidence.”
City of Plattsburgh Mayor Democrat Colin Read is an economist by trade. He offered a presentation outlining data and graphs and noted that although the city has had fiscal challenges its debt is currently low. “It’s right now lower than the average in real terms over the last couple of decades and it represents somewhere around 50% of annual spending, whereas the US government does, you know, is approaching about 100% of annual spending in their total debt. So debt has been quite well managed.”
Mayor Read noted the city’s investment in paving and rebuilding roads at an accelerated rate than past years. He also expects the state $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative grant investments to come to fruition during 2020. “I believe that the city of Plattsburgh is experiencing a bit of an economic and urban Renaissance. Again, I appreciate the governor's vision in helping us do that. It also depends though on conservative fiscal discipline, the sound economic and fiscal planning and a recognition that housing has to be affordable. And we're doing that not only by getting the budget under control, creating the surpluses a rainy day cushion, but actually lowering the tax rate.”
Democratic Town of Plattsburgh Supervisor Michael Cashman outlined how the municipality is moving forward with a long-term vision for the town through Smart Growth planning. “We are developing our Smart Growth Plan. It's called Elevate Plattsburgh and it is a guide for land development in the commercial center of our town. There is an opportunity to establish a walkable network of streets and diverse mixed use to create a brighter sense of here.”
Cashman notes that in 2019 the town saw over 380,000 square feet of new business, 479 building permits and over $43 million in value in the local economy. “This is our uptown corridor. From Exit 37 up through Smithfield into Consumer Square it's busier in that one little stretch of our community than Wolf Road in Albany. We are not a slumbering community in the North Country. We are thriving community.”
Next week the North Country Chamber will sponsor its annual legislative breakfast to hear reports from the region’s state representatives in Albany.