Orange County News: State of the County Address - Executive Neuhaus on Economic Progress, Opioid Treatment, School Safety

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In his fifth annual State of the County address last night, in the auditorium of the county Emergency Services Center, Orange County Executive Steven Neuhaus touted the economic progress of his first term, which included a doubling of the county surplus and a 5% increase in sales tax revenue in 2017, which enabled Orange County’s to share an additional $3.8 million with its municipalities.

Neuhaus said opioid treatment services are badly needed in western Orange County, and supports opening an opioid treatment center there despite such facilities not proving popular with neighbors. Though Cornerstone Family Healthcare seeks to establish a methadone clinic in Port Jervis, Mayor Kelly Decker opposes plans for a clinic anywhere downtown or in a residential area. Decker wants any methadone clinic Cornerstone sets up to be in an isolated area. Cornerstone’s only methadone clinic in Orange County is in Newburgh. About 50 people from the Port Jervis area travel to that clinic, and about 100 people are on that clinic’s waiting list. A clinic in Port Jervis would be expected to treat 200 to 250 clients.

Neuhaus also announced Orange County is taking a proactive approach to school safety following a national outcry for protection of students from active shooter scenarios, calling for an armed police officer in every school in the county, a coalition of school security personnel, having law enforcement officers analyze security measures in every school, connecting schools with the county’s 911 center through the Mutualink system, and asking New York State to exempt security expenses from school districts’ annual caps on property-tax increases. Implementation will be at the discretion of individual school districts.

Other new initiatives proposed include requiring Airbnb users to follow the same rules as conventional hospitality businesses, signing an executive order requiring municipalities to refer development plans to the county Planning Department for its recommendations before the county will issue any needed permits, selling the Camp LaGuardia property and developing labor/trade apprenticeship requirements for all publicly financed projec ts.

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