Mayor John Buckley’s State of the City Speech 2020

January 20, 2020

If the tagline for 2018 was a “City on the move”, 2019 saw that kicked up a notch with the tagline going into 2020 being: “a city in high gear”. 2019 saw the City of Hornell named the second fastest growing city in the state. Quite a feat considering NYS leads the nation in population loss.
The City’s commitment to maintaining affordable and high-quality services was recognized early in 2019 with the City of Hornell being rated the #3 most affordable place to live in NY.

With an affordable and growing city, comes more development. The Basset Group is moving forward with the next phase of their project which will create 84 additional market rate living units. Development continues with finalized plans for the Rockland Silk Mill apartments at the old Marion Rohr building, which will offer loft apartments with indoor parking that is walkable to downtown.
More great news, and perhaps the biggest, came when Hornell was awarded the 10 million dollar Downtown Revitalization Initiative which will help spur our local economy and propel our community forward into the future.

Alstom continues to hum along, manufacturing the Acela line, the nation’s only high-speed rail trains right here in our beloved city. This is a huge feather in our cap and something we all should take great pride in. Not being content, Alstom is aggressively pursuing other contracts to ensure long term employment in Hornell.

TTA continues to grow and prosper. With help from the City, they were awarded CDBG funds to expand their facilities to accommodate a growing workload. TTA has exceeded their new job creation goal adding 32 new jobs this past year.

2019 also welcomed 9 new small businesses to the City, with many of them located in the repurposed County Courthouse building, thanks to young entrepreneurs Dalton Cady and Joe Garcia who had a vision and took a chance. Some of the new businesses that opened their doors include The Book Bar located in the Courthouse, Harmony Blue Boutique and 100 Main Studios on Main Street, Forever Six Apparel on Broadway, and Pat’s Pizza on Loder Street.

The Codes Department continues to be very successful in helping to get Zombie and Vacant properties in the hands of contractors who are rehabbing these properties and returning them to the tax rolls. The highly successful BOCES program continues to breathe new life into our neighborhoods. This past Summer marked my 1st BOCES house as mayor and the 9th overall for the City. The tenth BOCES house is currently under construction for this coming summer.

To support the 2nd fastest growing city in the state, there is continued support for infrastructure. Last year, CDBG funds for sewer relining came in under budget and those extra funds were able to be used to expand sewer lining to protect additional aging infrastructure against failure. Last month the City was awarded $567,000 to continue this much needed and highly valued program. 2020 will see several bridge replacements including Seneca St, Canisteo St and East Main St over Chauncy Run.

While our City has many positives to celebrate, we still face constant challenges.

Since the day I took office, one of my top priorities has been to crack down on those who manufacture and traffic illegal drugs. Our Police Department continues to rise to the challenge. Partnering with the State Police, Sheriff’s Dept, and DA’s office, Hornell PD has again increased drug arrests over the prior year. But the work is not done. City officials, community leaders, parents, teachers and residents alike, must take more active rolls to educate our youth to the dangers of drug use.

This year, Albany compounded the problem with the recently enacted “Bail Reform” measures which impede law enforcement, reduce public safety and drive up local costs for municipalities in the form of unfunded mandates.

While Albany struggles with a 6-billion-dollar budget deficit, they continue to pile on local governments adding new unfunded mandates such as reduction to Medicaid payments to municipalities all the while expecting locals to stay within the 2% tax cap.

As with most years, the City budget remains a challenge. With rising costs and flat revenues, the City will continue to streamline, look for ways to cut costs and do more with less. Funding to replace aging infrastructure and equipment continue to be a challenge.

As I said last year, one of my main goals as mayor is to improve the quality of life of City residents. In the first two years of my young administration, I have worked tirelessly responding to residents’ concerns, often times going directly to their homes to assist them in resolving issues. Another thing I work very hard on, and am proud of, is creating a positive culture. I am a firm believer in the power of positivity.

On the flipside, one party rule in Albany has given us a 6 billion dollar deficit, more cost shifting in the form of unfunded mandates and has compromised public safety with the reckless bail reform laws.

At the same time, our Nation’s Capital has gone from bad to worse and continues to be mired in controversy and partisanship, with both sides seemingly not willing to negotiate or compromise on much of anything. With the upcoming presidential election, I fear the politics of hate and division will overtake our county with the constant negative bombardment from the 24/7 news cycle and numerous social media platforms, not to mention Washington politicians themselves.
My friends on the Council – I said this last year and will say it again: it is up to us to rise above the political fray and set a positive example to the people we serve. Let Hornell continue to be a beacon of light, an example of positivity and teamwork, working for the betterment of each and every individual living in this great City we call home.

In closing, I’d like to share an anonymous quote with you.

“Learn to love without condition. Talk without bad intention. Give without any reason. And most of all, care for people without any exception.”

Thank you and God bless.

John Buckley