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Picente delivers 2013 State of the County address

By JOLEEN FERRIS

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente, Jr. delivered his annual State of the County address Tuesday morning to a room full of elected leaders, law enforcement and business leaders at the Radisson Hotel in downtown Utica.

The County Executive noted accomplishments of the past year, including the fact that, just in the past few days, one of the bond-rating agencies upgraded the county's fiscal outlook from negative to stable.

"That's significant. It really does say that we're managing money properly, we're handling it properly, and it saves us money in the long run because it improves our credit rating, which reduces our borrowing cost for capital projects," said Picente, following the address.

Picente shared an alarming statistic: 110,000 people in 2012 came to the county Department of Social Services seeking assistance. That's 45% of the entire population of the county. The county food stamp caseload is 17,309 people, up 7.8% from two years ago.

"Should we be concerned? Yes, absolutely we should be concerned," says DSS Commissioner Lucille Soldato. "Essentially what you're looking at is people who were being helped by family and friends and those family and friends can no longer help them."

Soldato added that, while the need is growing, it's growing at a slower rate and levelling off.

Picente also outlined some new projects he wants to get off the ground in the coming year. Among them: Project ARGO: Action to Realign Government Operations. The goal is to explore and enact collaboration and consolidation projects that would have long-term net savings.

The County Executive also appealed to federal lawmakers to get the county the wetlands permit it needs in order to make way for a chip fab plant in Marcy.

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