VIDEO: 2024 State of the County Address

Submitted by Justin Gould on Thu, 04/25/2024 - 10:00

MAYVILLE, NY – In an electrifying 2024 State of the County Address, Chautauqua County Executive Paul M. Wendel Jr. painted a vibrant picture of a future characterized by resilience, prosperity, and unified community effort.

Before a diverse assembly of county officials, department heads, and impassioned residents, Wendel's impassioned rhetoric stirred a profound sense of purpose and unwavering determination.

Wendel commenced his address by acknowledging the collective efforts that propelled Chautauqua County forward in 2023. Despite economic uncertainties, the county experienced a surge in business investment, signaling confidence in the local economy.

Strategic workforce development initiatives, in collaboration with educational institutions and community partners, led to an expansion of the labor force and ensured competitiveness in the evolving job market. Infrastructure improvements, including the expansion of sewer districts and investments in pedestrian-friendly initiatives, underscored the county's commitment to enhancing the quality of life for residents.

Central to Chautauqua County's success is its unwavering commitment to fiscal conservatism. Wendel highlighted the county's prudent budgeting practices, tax relief measures, and strategic financial management, which have resulted in a solid fiscal position.

Despite challenges such as unfunded mandates and national economic conditions, the county has maintained a budget at or below the state-mandated tax cap for the fourth consecutive year. Notably, the property tax rate stands at its lowest since 1982, providing significant relief to residents.

“Thanks to steady growth and fiscally conservative budgeting, Chautauqua County's property tax rate stands at $6.91 per $1,000 of assessed valuation—a notable 89 cents below last year's rate and the lowest since 1982. Since taking office, we've reduced the property tax rate by $1.51, providing significant relief to our residents,” said Wendel.

Wendel also emphasized the importance of maintaining a robust fund balance and conservative revenue estimates to safeguard against unforeseen expenses while fostering a business-friendly environment.

Chautauqua County witnessed record business investment in 2023, with the County of Chautauqua Industrial Development Agency (CCIDA) spearheading strategic projects totaling $842 million. These endeavors, spanning various industries, are projected to create hundreds of permanent jobs and preserve existing positions, showcasing the county's commitment to economic diversification and expansion. Collaborative efforts with the Chautauqua County Partnership for Economic Growth further amplified the impact of economic development initiatives, laying the groundwork for sustained prosperity and resilience.

Looking ahead, Wendel outlined ambitious plans to drive economic growth, address population decline, and enhance the quality of life for all residents. Initiatives such as the Live CHQ and Choose CHQ branding campaigns aim to attract businesses, residents, and visitors to the county by showcasing its strong quality of life indicators and vibrant business landscape.

Additionally, the development of a shovel-ready industrial park in the Town of Ripley promises significant growth opportunities, while strategic reactivation projects and broadband expansion efforts further bolster economic development and connectivity.

Wendel emphasized the importance of collaboration in achieving significant victories for the county. Collaborative efforts with federal and state representatives secured funding for critical projects, including harbor improvements and lake preservation initiatives.

“Additionally, through collaborative efforts with the legislature, we've allocated $500,000 for in-lake maintenance, expanding early-season lake weed harvesting and ensuring ongoing maintenance efforts throughout the year,” said Wendel. “These initiatives are crucial for preserving the long-term health and vibrancy of Chautauqua Lake for generations to come.”

Moreover, investments in county services, such as mental health support, substance abuse response, and re-entry programs, underscored the county's commitment to addressing societal challenges and supporting vulnerable populations. Wendel also announced Vision 2024, an initiative aimed at modernizing county office spaces to enhance productivity, employee satisfaction, and operational efficiency.

“This will be a comprehensive analysis of our current office space and configuration. In an effort to provide efficient workspace for our county office buildings, we need to evaluate current office layout and configuration to optimize space and workflow,” Wendel said. “Engineers and architects will review and provide recommendations to best reconfigure our building’s internal footprint at the Gerace Office Building and Hall R Clothier Building in Mayville, NY.”

In closing, Wendel expressed gratitude for the opportunity to share his vision for Chautauqua County's future. He called upon residents to renew their determination, courage, and strength, envisioning a future where resilience reigns supreme and the county thrives economically and socially. As the address concluded, Wendel extended his appreciation to all attendees and reiterated his commitment to building a future of prosperity and possibility for Chautauqua County.

“OUR COUNTY stands tall as a testament to our resilience, elevating services for our residents, enriching their lives, and cultivating unprecedented economic prosperity. OUR VISION for County Government has become the bedrock of our efforts, anchoring our county's long-term financial stability. OUR FUTURE is full of promise and possibility, fueled by the successful actions we have taken and the strategic investments we are making,” concluded Wendel.

Chautauqua County's State of the County Address encapsulated a vision of resilience, prosperity, and community collaboration, setting a course for continued growth and development in the years to come.

A recording on the address is available on Chautauqua County’s YouTube page. A transcript of Wendel's speech is available for download at this link: 2024StateoftheCountySpeech.pdf


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