Public Weighs in on Broome County Budget

By Erika Mahoney

November 14, 2012 Updated Nov 15, 2012 at 10:49 AM EDT

Binghamton, NY (WBNG Binghamton) Broome County Chairman Jerry Marinich said Wednesday he does not foresee any vetoes coming forward for County Executive Debbie Preston's 2013 budget proposal.

On Thursday, the budget will go to Preston, and she can either sign it or veto it.

Last Thursday, the legislature approved the proposed 2013 budget with a couple of changes.

According to Marinich, the biggest changes include restoring a director of purchasing position and a sheriff's deputy position. The legislature also added a $5,000 increase in funding for the Broome County Public Library along with a $50,000 increase in funding for Broome Community College.

On Wednesday, the public had their chance to offer input on the changes. What seemed to get residents talking at the podium were changes to Broome County Transit fares.

Although the 31-day unlimited bus pass was restored, fares are going up slightly, and it's a change that is not sitting easy with some, like Jonathan Dollhopt.

Dollhopt recently got into a car accident and has been riding the bus since. He said Wednesday many of the people he now rides with are on a fixed budget and can't afford any fare increases.

"I can understand people riding the bus now, to and from places," said Dollhopt. "I can understand why people complain, about the bus fares, the schedule, the time it takes. I'm hoping, if they decide to increase the fare, that they provide better services."

Preston originally proposed fare increases along with an elimination of the 31-day unlimited pass when she presented her budget back in September. She then her decision about the unlimited pass late last month after receiving multiple calls and visits.

While the fares are still going up a little, legislators said this is the best they could do under tough economic times.

"Everybody would like to have everything perfect, the way it is," said Marinich. "We gave them as much as we could this year, then we have goals to look forward in years to come."

"For me, to raise the bus fare was hurtful to people I represent and people throughout the country who ride buses," said Legislator Jason Garnar. "But I was glad that we were able to re-instate the unlimited bus pass because that's where it seemed to be hurting people the most. So I guess I count that as a half victory."

If Preston vetoes the budget, legislators can act on those vetoes until Nov. 26.

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