This speech was delivered at the January 15, 2021 Warren County Board of Supervisors meeting by Chairwoman Rachel Seeber.
Good morning. I stand before you as the newly elected Chairwoman of our Board to deliver the State of the County address. I would like to welcome those joining us virtually, members of our board, our employees and invited guests. I would also like to especially welcome my family here today. Please welcome my husband, Kevin Conine, my son Dylan and my brother and sister-in-law Ken and Trudy Seeber. With all of my heart, I thank you. Your support and patience does not go unnoticed.
None of us could have imagined what 2020 would bring, let alone predict what lies ahead of us for 2021. I doubt that any one of us would have expected that wearing masks and staying socially distant would become normal for us, or that we would monitor testing and contact tracing and, depending on the results, schools and business alike would learn how to keep going virtually. From kindergartners to grandparents, we learned that Zoom isn’t just a noise that a car makes, it is how we stay connected to each other. We have endured a lot over the past year, and we have learned how to thrive in the chaos. We have discovered how resilient we really are, as a community, as a country and as the Warren County Board of Supervisors.
I would like to thank our County team that was led by Supervisor Frank Thomas, County Administrator Ryan Moore, our incredible Clerk of the Board, Amanda Allen and our newest member of our team, Director of Public Affairs Don Lehman, who as our liaison to the media played and continues to play an integral role in making sure our citizens know the most current information to make safe decisions. Beyond the administration, our departments have done an extraordinary job and I can’t think of a department that has risen higher to this relentless challenge than our employees in Public Health under the very capable leadership of Ginelle Jones. I know all of us are grateful for your tireless efforts to keep us safe and lead us to the day when we are all vaccinated. Thank you doesn’t capture the full magnitude of our gratitude.
All our department heads have worked hard and were disciplined in migrating their operations so that they could continue their duty to our citizens without compromising our staff’s health or public safety. Through this crisis, not one employee was laid off and none of our offices stopped delivering on their responsibilities. I thank each and every person who works for this county. We know it can be hard but please know how much you are valued.
Now amidst all the challenges, you may expect that we had terrible news financially, but that is just not the case. Our sales tax receipts were down just 1.2% in 2020, which is reflective of the New York State shutdown. But overall, our sales tax receipts still generated a surplus of $271,576. This is a clear credit to 2020 Board Chair Supervisor Thomas and Budget Officer Supervisor Geraghty and is very much attributed to our hard-working treasurer, Mike Swan.
With a change in the chair of the board and board leadership, I want to build on the good budget work of Supervisor Thomas. I am happy to report that he will join our newly established bipartisanship leadership team as our Budget Officer. I thank him for his leadership, his guidance and for his friendship. The 2021 committee assignments were disseminated to the supervisors yesterday and are now available on our website. Each assignment was made with the goal of having balanced representation by region and party with the goal that we develop a cohesive approach that raises up every corner of our county. We are better when we work together and when we raise each other up, we are Warren County Strong.
No one person will have all the answers. And just as none of us could know that 2020 would bring a pandemic, we also do not know what 2021 will bring. I can promise you this, however. I will make sure that the voice of every member of this Board is heard because each of you are important to our success. I promise to every citizen that you will be able to see our meetings on YouTube so that you can see the issues we are addressing, the options that we are discussing and know that your voice can be heard. I have set up an email for your suggestions. Email any idea to WarrenCountyStrong@warrencountyny.gov. And while we don’t know what we will have to face, I don’t have a doubt in my mind that together we can handle whatever this year brings, for we are Warren County Strong.
May God bless our county, our country and her citizens.