Johnson City Trustee: Sewage Board 'Dysfunctional'

By Adam Chick

November 15, 2012 Updated Nov 16, 2012 at 12:48 AM EDT

Binghamton, NY (WBNG Binghamton) The owners of the Binghamton-Johnson City Joint Sewage Treatment add a layer of oversight for when it comes to sewer board spending.

"I have never seen a more dysfunctional group of people lead a multimillion dollar organization in my life," said Johnson City Trustee Dianne Marusich.

She was speaking of the board that controls one of the most critical public structures in Broome County, the Binghamton-Johnson City Joint Sewage Treatment Plant.

She pointed to a 40-year agreement among the joint sewage board and the two municipalities that control it that gives the sewage board broad access to funds with little oversight.

For example, the board bought a $30,000 F-350 pickup truck, the paperwork for which the Binghamton comptroller said he has never seen.

All this while the citizens of Vestal are facing 45 percent increase in their sewer rates and the sewage boards operating costs continue to rise.

"It's very unclear. You're acting on a non action, so there's no way to prove something has occurred," said Binghamton Comptroller Charles Pearsall.

"We tend to get things really last minute. And then it's like we need to act on this right away. That's a huge problem," said Binghamton City Council President Teri Rennia.

The original agreement specifically allows the sewage board to spend money if a request to do so hasn't been answered for 35 days.

On Thursday, Binghamton and Johnson City took that power away from the sewage board.

Now both municipalities need to approve the board's plan before any money is spent.