MAYVILLE – There are two options that business owners, government heads, and ordinary citizens faced when the COVID-19 pandemic hit last March: roll over and accept defeat, or fight tooth-and-nail to survive and grow stronger than ever before.
Chautauqua County Executive P.J. Wendel says he has and will continue to choose the latter as 2021 moves on. Wendel delivered his first State of the County address during the Chautauqua County Legislature Meeting Wednesday evening.
Wendel says he’ll carry on the battle for the citizens of Chautauqua County as the pandemic continues.
“I will continue to be a dedicated champion for the residents of Chautauqua County, to work tirelessly to bring Chautauqua County to the next level,” Wendel said. “The pandemic is merely an obstacle in our path to success. My goal is for efficiency, cost reduction and economic development. Together these efforts will become models for other counties throughout our Empire State.”
The County Executive explains that despite the pandemic, Chautauqua County was able to achieve tremendous success in several areas. For example, Wendel says that the County faced dire financial constraints due to the intense economic shutdown that Governor Andrew Cuomo and other state leaders initiated in the first months of the pandemic.
Department heads were able to reduce more than $4 million in the 2020 adopted budget, according to Wendel. In addition, the County’s top official explains that the county was able to save an additional $1 million due to several employees entering a furlough.
As a result, Wendel says the county is operating with fewer employees that it did a decade ago despite the government operating at the “busiest” it has in history.
Wendel says, because of sales tax revenues being higher than expected along with the department heads’ fiscal discipline, the County came in at $4.5 million better than budget in 2020. He adds that he was able to construct a 2021 budget that was “structurally balanced and protected the fiscal health of the county.”
Cooperation also became a critical concept during the 2020 year, according to Wendel. He says several local businesses stepped up in an effort to produce personnel protective equipment (PPE). In addition, the County established models for providing emergency loan capital for small businesses as well as strategies towards a safe reopening of local economies.
The distribution of vaccinations continues to be a hot topic both locally and nationally. Wendel says that he’s had preliminary talks to establish sites in Jamestown and Fredonia and will continue to work with New York State to open them.
Wendel says that 2021, overall, will be a year of growth for Chautauqua County.
Viewers can watch the full presentation in the video below, or by clicking here.