State of the County is ‘exceptional’, according to O’Neil

HYDE PARK —  Dutchess County Executive Bill O’Neil delivered the 2023 State of the County address on Wednesday, March 8, at the Culinary Institute of America.

“Dutchess County is exceptional,” O’Neil said more than once in what will be his only State of the County address, as he is retiring at the end of the year.

O’Neil discussed the county’s strong financial situation, which was echoed last week by another AA+ bond rating from Standard & Poor’s, and referenced property tax cuts as well as the elimination of sales tax on clothing and footwear below $110. He explained how debt was paid and provided updates on a number of county projects.

The Justice and Transition Center (JTC), which replaces the Dutchess County jail, is expected to be completed this summer and ready for occupants. The new space will accommodate the expansion of programs including medication-assisted treatment, the RESTART cognitive behavioral therapy program, and the RECHARGE post-incarceration housing program.

The Housing Trust Fund, which came out of the countywide Housing Needs Assessment, was created to assist with projects pertaining to affordable rental housing. Several factors have caused the reconsideration of the purchase of the building at 26 Oakley St. in Poughkeepsie for use as an emergency housing facility and the county is looking into other options for using the space.

The county has taken new approaches in supporting behavioral health and substance recovery, including the Empowerment Center, now at 230 North Road in Poughkeepsie, which offers drop-in service for opioid misuse treatment; and  the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) partnership program with the City of Poughkeepsie.

Dutchess County’s parks system will see improvements this year, including a pickleball court at Quiet Cove, a new urban trail connecting the City and Town of Poughkeepsie, enhancements at Dutchess Stadium, and construction on the Lake Walton Preserve.

The Youth Opportunity Union project is moving forward and will be built on the site of the former YMCA with the help of architect MASS Design. The county is working with the Dyson Foundation to come up with a fundraising plan to raise money to complete the project.

At the end of his speech, O’Neil stated concerns about the “massive change” stemming from New York’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA), and urged residents to participate in public comment periods to be held by the state Department of Environmental Conservation over the coming year.

A video and full text of the speech are online at www.dutchessny.gov/Departments/County-Executive/2023-State-of-the-County...

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