Last Updated: 4/14/2022
Tioga County Legislative Chairwoman, Martha C. Sauerbrey, delivers the State of the County Address at the Fourth Regular Legislature Meeting on April 12, 2022.
Tioga County Annual Report for 2021
You may read about them in the newspaper or see them plowing snow along our roads, or when you get your license renewed. You will need them when looking for support for a disabled child, have mental health issues or a Veteran transitioning out of the military. You will meet them when you vote, look for a better job, open a new restaurant or get a rabies shot for your dog. They will be there for you when you need help with heating costs, have an auto accident or the river floods over your street. They keep us safe, protect us from harm and help bring new business to our communities. These are the public servants paid for by your tax dollars that show up every day with one goal in mind; to provide a better life for you, your family and your community.
During the last round of COVID-19 in 2021, the County agencies provided vaccinations, COVID-19 test kits, PPE, and financial assistance. We stepped up and provided needed support to the community, “that is what we do.”
Tioga County Government is the framework that holds up the services and County employees are the boots on the ground that provide the services needed by the community.
It is no surprise that as we come out of the COVID-19 Pandemic, the after effects are presenting problems. Some of the major issues we are seeing is an uptick in people seeking mental health assistance and a significant increase with juvenile delinquency and adolescent offenders. County agencies are addressing the issues, collaborating with each other and working with schools, addressing the issue of truancy, and creating strategies to address these issues.
Another problem is employee retention. After the successful shift to remote work for many government agencies in 2020 and 2021, the public sector has begun to weigh the benefits of hybrid work environments and reassess hiring practices. The challenge for Government Leaders is to be open to new ways of doing business, and still be responsible to the tax payers. The Legislature has implemented a pilot program to test how remote work could work at the County. We saw an employment issue coming with retirements and we put plans in place, but because of the pandemic, today’s workforce does not seem interested or ready to come back to work. This is happening across the country. What needs to be done to attract employees in the future is yet to be seen.
2021 was a year of gains and losses on the Legislature. All nine County Legislators were up for election last year with three Legislators deciding not to run again. New to the Legislature are: Jake Brown, replacing Loretta Sullivan in District #4, Ron Ciotoli replacing Cliff Balliet in District #1, and Barbara Roberts replacing Mike Roberts in District #3.
Sadly, the Legislature and the Community lost two former Legislators in 2021; Ron Dougherty who passed away in November and Richard Huttleston who passed away in April. We are grateful for their time and their contributions to the County and we are deeply sorry for their loss.
Financially, the County is strong. Sales tax collections in 2021 were up 19.2% or $4 million over 2020. (As a reminder, the County shares 25% of these collections with our towns and villages). Sales tax increases are largely across the State. As part of this picture, in 2020 and 2021, we cut our county budgets 10% for each year not knowing what the shut down and pandemic would bring. It turned out that despite business restrictions the County did not suffer. The influx of cash from the Federal stimulus checks enabled citizens to shop online and that brought in sales tax revenue. The same is holding true in 2022 with sales tax collections holding strong.
In 2021, the County paid $2.7 million in Community College tuition bills, this State mandated education service represented 11% of our County tax levy last year. (1741 residents benefited by this program).
Last fall, the County received the first payment of our American Recovery Funds with the second payment in late April. We will receive a total of $9.7 million from the Federal American Rescue Plan Act, which was part of the Federal stimulus bill to aid public health and economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. It has been a complicated process with many rule changes along the way, but we are happy to receive the support from the Federal Government. The Legislature identified projects and we have begun to fund them. Projects that are identified are: Veterans Suicide Prevention, Tioga ASAP Community Organization, Broadband Projects, Tioga County Suicide Prevention, Tioga County Tourism, Neighborhood Depot Project, Tioga County Land Bank, Transitional Housing/Catholic Charities, A New Hope Center, Communications Towers for the Interoperable Radio Communications Project, EMO/Ambulance Study, Cyber Security Upgrades, Orthos Mapping Imaging, Public Safety Building Upgrades, Security Upgrade to 56 Main Street and a Truck Wash Facility. The largest amount of funds $4 million has been designated as a critical funding source of the ongoing $15 million project to upgrade our Interoperable Radio Communications for the County.
Tioga County opted to participate in a RFP process created by the Broome County Purchasing Alliance for a group purchase of Medicare Advantage Plans for Medicare eligible retirees. The end result was a change in coverage for January 2022 that provides equal or better coverage and saves Tioga County $770,000 in premiums in 2022. Because this is a shared service we also qualify for a reimbursement from the State for their Shared Services Program.
We don’t know what the future will be but we are hopeful that things will continue to get better. With the challenges of inflation and continuing supply chain problems, we will spend cautiously. The Legislature will continue to be prudent when it comes to spending and that is an absolute.
Looking ahead, the County is working on an upgrade in cyber security and expansion of IT Services. Employee safety and building safety will be a focus for the future.
You will see an expansion of services for Veterans and because of Election redistricting, voters will need to check in with the Board of Elections for any changes to election districts.
Staff training within the County will continue in regards to employee development and leadership. When possible, employees will be cross-trained to be more effective in providing services.
County departments and organizations will continue working with schools to improve workforce for the future. Housing blight and housing needs will continue to be addressed in a collaborative way with towns and villages in order to make more housing available.
Civil Service tests are back in person and online applications are available – check our website.
As we come out of the COVID-19 Pandemic, we have been advised by health officials to remain cautious and monitor your health, keeping in mind – if you are sick, stay home. But let’s face it, we are ready for this to be done and over with. Good weather is in front of us and we are looking forward to being outside, celebrating community events and enjoying our families.
I am optimistic that things are going to get better. So let’s get involved and help things along!
Let’s help our communities and volunteer for a community project, attend a fundraiser for a non-profit or join the fire department. Fly your American flag, talk to your neighbors, or clean up your neighborhood. If we invest our time in our communities they will come back to life again.
It’s time to come out of the darkness and go into the light.