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Thursday, July 31, 2014
Canajoharie, NY ,

Matthew Ossenfort

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County exec reflects on his first 100 days

Thursday, April 17, 2014 - Updated: 2:44 AM

By NICOLE ANTONUCCI

For the C-S-E

FONDA -- Montgomery County Executive Matthew Ossenfort said Tuesday that while many things have been accomplished in the past three months, there is much more to do.

Ossenfort reflected on his first 100 days in office, which have involved addressing the future of the county's waste operation and settling negotiations over county employee contracts.

"We focused on things that were put off by the previous government that needed to be done immediately," he said. "We have gotten more done in 100 days than a period of time last year."

Ossenfort said that the dissolution of the Montgomery-Otsego-Schoharie Solid Waste Manage-ment Authority should have been something that started more than a year ago but with the help of the county Legislature, they were able to get it done within four months, with only minor issues to be worked out.

"We are working as a team and that is the biggest difference," Ossenfort said. "We are putting our differences aside to get the job done and that is fantastic."

Other accomplishments include making necessary policy changes to reflect the change in government from the board of supervisors to the county Legislature; establishing an animal cruelty and welfare commission; and beginning discussion on the consolidation of county office space.

Ossenfort and legislators are working on changes to the procurement policy which governs how purchases are made by officials. District 4 Legislator Ryan Weitz was in Ossenfort's office Tuesday, reviewing the policy prior to the committee meeting later that evening.

Ossenfort said he has many more items to tackle this year, including his next objective of balancing the county budget. While the budget is considered to be balanced, he said the county fund balance, rather than funds from revenues, is being used to pay for expenses.

The goal, he said, is to work during a five-year period to bring the budget back into balance and stabilize taxes which have seen major increases and major decreases in the past several years.

For example, 2008 was the start of a major recession and yet county taxes decreased in three years. Then in 2011, taxes dramatically increased.

As a result, positions were cut to the point of risking much-needed services the county provides to the public.

"If we would have kept taxes stable and kept it under the tax cap we would be in a much better situation than we are now," Ossenfort said. "There is going to be some corrective action that needs to be taken putting in some key position to ensure that we are providing the services that we need."

Ossenfort said he is already looking at increasing reimbursements for benefits in the Department of Social Services. That involves changing the internal process, so when the Veterans Department does work for DSS, it will be documented and DSS will get reimbursed.

"It's going to mean millions of dollars for taxpayers," Ossenfort said. "These are things that haven't been done over the years."

Ossenfort acknowledged that some mistakes have been made in the past few months and there have been disagreements, but over all the county has made a smooth transition to the new form of government and everyone is working together.

"If there is any lesson I learned in the past three months it's patience," Ossenfort said. "I would like to see this done all at once but that is not the way it works. You have to be methodical. As long as we work together we will get it done."

     

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