County Executive Mike Hein’s seventh address before the Ulster Regional Chamber of Commerce Thursday morning, Feb. 19 touched on familiar themes of government reorganization and programs launched during his tenure which began in January, 2009. Hein, a Democrat, is expected to seek a third term on Nov. 3.
Hein characterized county finances under the legislative form of government (1968-2008) as “functionally bankrupt “when we walked through the door.” Hein was appointed county administrator in mid-2006 before winning election in 2008.
Hein’s administration reduced the county workforce by about a third to around 1,300 and has cut spending by some $25 million over the past three years. At the same time, the county will return some $14 million to towns and the city by taking over safety net expenses and election costs.
Hein’s 45-minute speech before a near record crowd at the Best Western Plus in Kingston, was interrupted by applause several times as he touched on such subjects as the veterans shelter in Rondout, plans for a veterans memorial in front of the county office building, the conversion of the former Sophie Finn School in midtown as an adjunct to Ulster County Community College, and a $10.6 million public works program approved by the legislature on Tuesday. Hein also praised the Catskill Mountain Railroad for the “wonderful job of attracting people to our community.” He called people who were “all-rail or all-trail” “extremists.” Hein has proposed a plan that would address both interests. “It’s more costly, but it’s worth it,” he said.
The breakfast was sponsored by the HealthAlliance Foundation of Kingston which will honor long-time volunteer Barbara Cohen with its lifetime achievement award at its annual Tulip Ball on April 25.