Chautauqua County Executive PJ Wendel said in his annual State of the County address that the county’s comeback has been far greater than its setback.
Wendel said the ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic in 2021 continued to be a challenge for the county, causing his administration to pivot efforts to move forward while protecting residents.
He said that after seeing businesses shut down and people lose jobs in 2020, December 2021 had an unemployment rate of 3.5%, which is the lowest its been since the 1990s.
Wendel announced some changes ahead for 2022 including the rebranding of the Chautauqua Area Rural Transit System, or CARTS, as CHQ Transit, “The construction of a transportation hub in downtown Jamestown, the addition of new technology including a rider’s app and cashless fare system; as well as additions of three trolleys to our fleet.”
Wendel said he also began work with Finance Director Kitty Crow to restructure the Finance Department where departments will no longer have their own fiscal staff, but will have that go through the Finance Department itself. He said this will increase efficiencies, reduce strain on smaller departments, and increase productivity.
In the Department of Public Facilities, Wendel is planning on promoting current employees to Deputy Director positions to form a DPF cabinet, “Instead of overwhelming one DPF Director with multiple departments that were under their control, our Deputy Directors will only focus on their areas of expertise and come together to form the DPF cabinet. This current plan will consist of Deputy Director of Public Facilities in the following areas: engineering, transportation, and environment.”
The position of Director of DPF has been vacant following the resignation of Brad Bentley in November.
Wendel added other goals include expanding sewer and water around the county’s lakes to promote development, expanding the tourism industry, and expand broadband throughout county.
We’ll have the full State of the County address on tonight’s Community Matters at 5 p.m.