Searching for Solutions for a Sick Economy

Maureen Halahan | September 2020

Maureen Halahan, CEO of the Orange County Partnership

With the prospect of further coronavirus relief coming from Washington, DC getting bleaker by the moment, state, county and local governments will be facing some harsh fiscal decisions due to the economic fallout from COVID-19 this year and in 2021.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has threatened to withhold 20% of funding earmarked for local governments, hospitals and school districts if further COVID relief funding is not forthcoming from Congress. The funding cuts, along with tax revenue shortfalls from restrictions imposed earlier this year to prevent the spread of the pandemic, has some local government leaders already threatening government worker layoffs, service program cuts as well as other revenue raisers.

In response to this impending dark economic outlook, the Orange County Partnership and its affiliate the Alliance for Balanced Growth are later this month tackling the issues surrounding the pandemic and how municipalities can increase tax ratables in response.

One of the joys of my job as president and CEO of the Orange County Partnership is to provide meaningful information to our members that result in opportunity, savings and/or profit. During these challenging times when the pandemic has created monumental financial disruptions to our economy, the Partnership has teamed up with the Co-chairs of the Alliance for Balanced Growth to offer guidance and suggestions to our municipal leaders.

On September 24th, at 9:00 am, the Alliance for Balanced Growth (ABG) will be discussing the major issues that municipalities face, and with the help of a number of experts, will make presentations that will offer municipalities workable solutions to the economic hardships ahead. An added benefit is the ABG is opening up the virtual session to Planning Board Members, municipal leaders and anyone who is searching for solutions.

The Alliance for Balanced Growth is a cooperative effort between area developers, landowners, commercial real estate professionals, engineers, land-use attorneys, construction services and the Orange County Partnership. Their mission is straightforward—to present a strong, unified voice for responsible development in Orange County.

The Sept. 24th program will begin by illustrating how localities can increase tax ratables that will generate revenue in-perpetuity. It’s important to note that the pandemic has created a need in the marketplace, bringing developers and corporations to Orange County to site valuable projects. Thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in taxes will follow, but only with cooperation from towns, villages and cities. We have to act quickly because the competition is intense and companies will go to where they are wanted. There is a cost to inaction and the delay of projects and our quality of life is at stake.

Topic items and experts will include (but are not limited to):

ABG Co-Chair Andrew Fetherston, a principal of Maser Consulting, who will cover zoning issues and the finer points of the local planning process.

Tom Weddell, partner with RBT CPAS, LLP, and Brian Flynn, a partner with PKF O’Connor Davies, LLP, will provide an accounting perspective on economic development and municipal finance issues and possible solutions.

Alan Seidman, executive director of the Construction Contractors Association, will offer an overview of the recently launched “BrighterHV” marketing initiative, illustrating the value of economic stability through job creation.

County Executive Steve Neuhaus will provide an update on the RFPs on several prominent Orange County properties and the many resources available through the county that local municipalities can take advantage of.

John Lavelle, a veteran commercial broker with Rand Commercial, will MC the event and weave in his insights on the commercial real estate market.

All in all, we have a very powerful lineup that is guaranteed to provide support and guidance in these troubling times. In closing, the good news is this is only the first of a series of fall events that the Partnership and the Alliance will provide for our Investors, so stay tuned for further exciting updates at our website — www.ocpartnership.org.

For further information on the meeting, contact the Orange County Partnership at (845) 294-2323.

Maureen Halahan
Maureen Halahan is the president and CEO of the Orange County Partnership in Goshen and a co-chairperson of 17-Forward-86.