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By Douglas Sciorra

Highlights from 2022 in Steuben County

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Read more about the “Top Five Achievements,” of the year

Steuben County can look back on a busy and productive year, including plans for the future for boosting the local economy, providing new services for military veterans, renovating older structures and making headway in the battle against substance use disorder.

In their annual Top Five Achievements report, county officials report significant efforts in:

Comprehensive Plan

The first countywide comprehensive plan in Steuben County’s history was launched in August and will serve as a guiding document for policy making, economic development, and capital investment for the county during the next 15 years. The process is expected to take approximately 18 months.

The comprehensive plan is designed to establish a strategic framework for Steuben’s growth and development and includes identifying critical areas of policy to which county leaders may direct resources and effort.

The current comprehensive planning effort is guided by a multi-disciplinary steering committee of County Legislators, staff, and other key stakeholders and will rely heavily on public input throughout the process, as well as contributions from municipal leaders, civic organizations, and local investors.

Economy

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, which complicated county operations from 2020-21, a devastating flash flood in August 2021, a significant uptick in public safety costs since 2017 and the more recent economic hits, the county has maintained a solid fund balance and kept up important local services such as road maintenance and bridge repair.

The county also actively works to improve housing stock through the independent Land Bank while offering state grants to upgrade well and septic systems through the state’s Community Development Block Grant.

During the past year, through the efforts of the county Industrial Development Agency, some 10 new businesses and housing projects have been attracted and secured throughout the county and notably in Bath, Corning, Hammondsport and Hornell.

Additionally, while county operational costs have risen, driven by state mandates, the county officials have kept the average tax rate down, reducing property taxes by $0.43 per $1,000 for 2023.

Veterans Services

Under the leadership of County Veterans Services Agency Gary Smith the agency has increased its outreach in 2033, including 20 outreach events throughout the county with 400 face-to-face encounters.

The need is there: According to the New York State Association of Counties, Steuben is ranked No. 2 !

Projects in the works include producing an informational flyer that Steuben legislators can present at their respective city/towns/village meetings and will be posted for easy reference for veterans.

The VSA is located at 7001 County Route 113, Bath and may be contacted at (607) 664-2527.

Building Projects

Work on renovations and new construction at three county highway shops is underway, with the Steuben Legislature approving bids totaling $6.1 million.

The General Construction contract for $5.7 million went to Building Innovation Group, Inc, with $449,000 for electrical work to awarded to Matco Electric Corporation for work at the Curtis, Mt. Washington and Prattsburgh highway shops.

Since the bids were awarded, the decision was made to demolish the Curtis and Mt. Washington shops, followed by construction.

Other projects included a parking lot on the site of the Steuben Bowling Academy on East Steuben Street, and renovations to the Civil Defense Building on State Route 54. Renovations to the building include a roof replacement. The two projects are pegged $1.5 million and will be paid through the American Recovery Plan Act funds.

Opioid Settlement

Steuben’s long battle against substance use disorder was furthered through initial distributions from the nationwide Opioid Settlement funds.

Steuben’s share this year amounted to approximately $678,000 to be used for opioid treatment and prevention efforts.

Portions of the funds will go toward two additional social workers at the Community Mental Health Center Clinic; to Catholic Charities Steuben/Livingston for peer support services and funding for the Steuben Prevention Coalition’s Opioid Committee.

Other funds are earmarked for a part-time Substance Abuse Counselor at the Family Service Society, Inc. to offer prevention counseling and support services at the Corning Youth Center, with funds also going toward CASA Trinity’s programs in Steuben.

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