Montgomery County executive praises cooperation

FONDA – More than 100 people crowded into the Winner’s Circle to listen to Montgomery County’s new executive deliver his first State of the County address this morning.

Matt Ossenfort, 32, the first county executive in Montgomery County and the youngest executive in the state, opened his 40-minute speech with a Powerpoint presentation detailing the accomplishments his office has made over the past two months that he’s been in office.

“We’ve been working tirelessly and there’s been no shortage of work ethic over the past couple of months,” Ossenfort said.

He said the county made a smooth transition into a new form of government, joking that the “sky didn’t fall” when the government changed. He commended the Legislature for working so well with him since January.

“A lot of times in politics you see back and forth [arguing,] and you’d think with a new county charter that’s vague and there’s room for interpretation when it comes to powers and authority that that would happen,” he said. “But I have to say that we’ve worked very well together. The discussions we’ve had have been constructive, not destructive.”

He noted the intermunicipal solid waste agreement with Fulton County that will take place once Montgomery County’s contract with the Montgomery-Otsego-Schoharie Solid Waste Management Authority ends April 30. He said the next step is to figure out what the county wants to do with its transfer stations.

Ossenfort stressed the importance of working regionally, not just within the borders of Montgomery County. He talked about a possible Regional Business Park that would potentially be in the town of Mohawk and the city of Johnstown.

“We need to communicate why this is so important, not only for the municipalities, or the county but the whole region,” he said. “I don’t think folks realize this potential site in the town of Mohawk could be the premier shovel-ready large lot rail siting site in the Northeast.”

He said the park will only be possible through intermunicipal collaboration with Fulton County.

Ossenfort also mentioned other economic development initiatives within the county such as the completion of the Hampton Inn & Suites in the city of Amsterdam, Canal Way improvements that will be completed in a year and a half and possible distilleries in the town of Florida and Fort Plain.

He also touched upon the casino siting initiative, saying the county and municipalities involved are on board. There is a potential site being eyed in the town of Florida and city of Amsterdam.

However, he said the county is not relying on a potential casino for its economic growth.

“We’re not putting our economic development eggs into a casino basket,” he said. “[The casino] could happen or it might not happen, it’s out of our control. We did what we needed to do and we’re open to it…This is not the end all save all.”