BATAVIA – Collaboration is among the newer trends in state and local government with a world of data and opportunities available for those who successfully practice what they preach, the chairwoman of the Genesee County Legislature said in her annual State of the County address Wednesday.
Mary Pat Hancock, who has represented the towns of Batavia and Stafford for more than 20 years, said she replaced her usual annual report of department activities with a “GPS view of our county from a height.”
Hancock, a retired public school counselor, admitted she was influenced by her year as president of the New York State Association of Counties, where she learned there are “frustrations in other states similar to ours, aging infrastructure and fiscal constraints.”
One example she cited is “cross-jurisdictional sharing” for grants, for example to share a public health administrator, something Genesee is doing with Orleans County.
She repeated the counties association’s problem with unfunded state mandates, and federal and state reimbursements that haven’t kept pace with rising operating costs. This and the state-imposed tax cap were problems with no additional relief from the state.
Genesee, she noted, “was able to maintain services within the cap.”
She said the county’s nursing home is facing a shortfall of more than $3 million a year, which the general fund has to make up. The problem is inadequate Medicaid reimbursement.
Regional planning through the nine-county Finger Lakes Development Council puts applications for most funding on a state level. Genesee, she added, is fortunate that the STAMP project, which addresses “the needs of the science, technology and advanced manufacturing world, is among the priorities. Very few sites around this globe have all the requirements,” she said, adding “our participation is essential to ensure Genesee has a strong voice in the regional chorus.”
“Genesee County is productive and attracting business during a very difficult time statewide,” Hancock told an audience of legislators, department heads and staff.
In a 30-minute report in the historic courthouse, she cited outstanding examples, among them a new courts facility, countywide water service, an airport, five active industrial parks, an animal shelter, a senior center and consolidated police dispatch services.
She predicted that Genesee County will “survive and thrive with careful attention to all its resources and so very well located. The future will come, ready or not,” she concluded, “and we are ready.”