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Garnar Presents Second State of the County Address

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Broome County Executive Jason Garnar presented his 2018 State of the County Address Monday at Animal Adventure Park.

Garnar’s theme for his second State of the County was “Building a Better Broome”, focusing on major topics like jobs, blight, and the heroin epidemic.

Garnar began his speech by talking about the county’s finances.

“When I took office, Broome County was in a financial mess. A nightmare really.”

He said that he’s gone “back to the basics” with conservative and realistic budgeting, mentioning the change to Broome County's health plan by joining the Keenan Pharmacy Purchasing Coalition, saving up to $10 million.

Shifting gears to jobs, Garnar highlighted an excess in open positions due to residents not having the proper skills.

He introduced a new Welfare to Work program, where along with the Department of Social Services, Garnar says he will aim to get those unemployed back to work by cleaning up the neighborhoods.

“If you can work, you will work. My goal? Every able bodied person in Broome County will be working by the end of this year.”

Garnar also highlighted blight in the county, mentioning eyesores in neighborhoods that are getting torn down, and buildings like the EJ Victory Building and 6 Emma Street being redeveloped.

Tourism in the area was also discussed, with revitalization projects in the works on Main Street in Johnson City, Washington Street in Endicott, and the future Arts District in Downtown Binghamton.

Garnar also spoke about the heroin epidemic in Broome County, and how the Drug Treatment Center is slated to open April 1st, adding over 150 jobs.

“After years of skyrocketing overdose deaths, 2017 saw a decrease. We will work every day to get that number to zero.”

In a turn to school safety, Garnar said that he is developing a task force to start a “deeper conversation about how we can help protect and care for our children”.

Garnar added that at the local level, gun policy is not in their job description, but he asked legislators to commit to meeting with him once a month to work together on a solution regardless of party lines.

“Not left, not right, forward for Broome County.”

On why he chose to have the State of the County at Animal Adventure, he said it was a way to celebrate their accomplishments, and get out of the office and into the community.

“The story of Broome County in 2017 was Animal Adventure, April the Giraffe. 200,000 people came to Animal Adventure from a number of different states, a number of different countries. It really put Broome County on the map.”

Similar to last year, Garnar plans to take his State of the County Address on the road and visit rural communities to answer residents’ questions, adding that he doesn’t work just for those in the city, but everyone in Broome County.