It's the end of February and the days are getting longer and, though I know we have a long way to go to be finished with winter weather, optimism is in the air! Our highway budget has begun to feel benefits from the lack of snowfall in terms of less overtime and reduced fuel and salt consumption.
I remain optimistic this spring we will begin to see an increase in the number of permits and property sales for investment purposes. For some time I have said our region is ripe for significant economic development and job creation and I continue to feel that way. Even in a bad economy we are a good deal.
A recent report by the Comptroller's Office has indicated sales tax in Clinton County increased by 9.3 percent in 2008 over 2007. This was the second largest increase in New York State. During the same period, there were 16 counties that had a negative change! In 2009 Clinton County experienced a -5.6 percent change over 2008 but only four of the 57 counties in NYS did not have a negative change in sales tax collection in 2009, also the state average was -5.9 percent. Our local economy appears to be more stable and a good economist would find it easy to identify the reasons for our stability.
It has been a challenging time and we have felt, and will continue to deal with, the economic crises. Still, I'm confident our region will survive and we will grow. The towns department heads have worked hard to maintain their budgets and work with our board to make cost-effective decisions. Our municipality has sought grants and worked to create a shovel ready environment attractive to business. Our labor force is capable and our educational institutions able to help fill any skill sets needed. We share services and resources to minimize costs and maximize efficiency within departments and with other municipalities. The North Country knows together we can achieve more and I suspect as 2010 continues to unfold we will see signs of achievement. We are resilient and we don't give up or give in and, though change may not always be pleasant, we will adapt and we will continue to improve, but then again you knew all that didn't you!
Bernie Bassett is the supervisor of the town of Plattsburgh.
(Editor's Note: City and Town will now appear in the first issue of the month of this newspaper. Keep watching for it!)