Borrello Says County Has Gained More Confidence

George Borrello

MAYVILLE — “We’re becoming more confident in ourselves,” County Executive George Borrello told the crowd at the county executive breakfast.

“I’m very excited to see the positive attitude,” he said further. “I think we’ve really turned a corner.”

Now with 17 months of experience as the county executive, Borrello elaborated on the changes that have transformed the county, including recent economic successes, increased collaboration among local governments and what he called a newfound sense of pride people have for the area.

Hosted by Todd Tranum, president and CEO of the Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce, the breakfast featured Borrello discussing the factors he said make Chautauqua County an ideal place to live. In response to questions from the audience at the Chautauqua Suites Meeting and Expo Center, Borrello also detailed future obstacles.

“From April of last year to April of this year, we’ve actually gained 400 net jobs here in Chautauqua County,” Borrello said, citing a figure from the New York State Department of Labor. “That’s the first time in probably a decade or more that that’s happened.”

Last year, at his first county executive breakfast, Borrello labeled workforce development as the primary challenge the local economy would have to face. He shared how the workforce participation rate was recorded as higher than in the past few years, and from last year, unemployment in Chautauqua County decreased by a full percentage point.

Beyond the statistics suggesting positive economical growth, Borrello touched on a variety of topics at Friday’s event. Subjects that have marked his term as county executive, including Chautauqua Lake maintenance consensus, the creation of a drug task force, and an increased drive to collaborate with businesses and municipalities were brought up by Tranum and the audience.

The county executive shared optimism on how Jamestown is growing as a tourism epicenter for a county that’s also seeing the openings of new hotels and businesses. He also said that air service will likely be fulfilled at the Chautauqua County-Jamestown Airport.

While the Essential Air Service program was denied for the airport earlier this year, Borrello said Friday that the feedback on the application was constructive, something he thinks will lead to a successful establishment of commercial air service in the future.

Borrello stood firm on his stance against the legalization of recreational marijuana statewide. He cited a figure of $300 million of potential state revenue if legalization was to occur, but he criticized the “drop in the bucket” amount, saying it would be going to the state, leaving local governments to deal with the negative impacts.

“The reality is we’re wholly unprepared,” Borrello said in regard to legalization.

Borrello touched base on the Countywide Alliance for Enforcement and Rehabilitation and how it has continued to bring together professionals from various fields to understand the opioid epidemic further. He also applauded the increased emphasis on building chemical dependency units to rehabilitate those who may be addicted.

In terms of bringing together individuals from an issue’s full spectrum of stakeholders, Borrello updated listeners on the Memorandum of Agreement for the Chautauqua Lake Weed Management Consensus Strategy: a document that brought together almost all nonprofits and municipalities around Chautauqua Lake to agree on certain lake tenets.

As he suggested earlier this week at a meeting of the Chautauqua Lake Protection and Rehabilitation Agency, the most pressing long-term obstacle for funding of lake maintenance will be allocating dedicated dollars for what Borrello has described as the “jewel of the county.” Talks of forming a potential lake taxing district for lakefront property owners to chip into has been considered.

It’s possible this may have been Borrello’s final county executive breakfast since he is a candidate vying for the New York State Senate seat vacated by former Sen. Cathy Young earlier this year.