Are county services still for sale?

By Jillian Marshall

February 6, 2014 Updated Feb 7, 2014 at 7:29 AM EDT

Binghamton, NY (WBNG Binghamton) Though plans to sell Broome County services like the public transit system and nursing home have been shelved for the past few months, concerns over possible changes are weighing heavily on some residents' minds.

Nearly 100 people filled the American Legion Post 80 in Binghamton Thursday for the 'Speak Out To Save Our Community Services' forum.

Employees, patrons and community members voiced their concerns about privatizing Broome County Transit, Willow Point Nursing Home and mental health outpatient services.

"We need to prioritize these services. We know that they cost money, we know the state has been shrinking their duty in a lot of respects, but we have to have a public discussion about what our priorities are," said organizer Karen Carpenter.

They said they feel like the county is making too many decisions behind closed doors.

A common concern expressed Thursday was that privatizing BC Transit would lead to increased rates and degraded services.

Penny Davis, of the town of Union, said she disagreed with County Executive Debbie Preston trying to turn human services into business.

"The more you try to privatize it, the more people are trying to make money and the object of what we're doing isn't the idea to make money, it's the idea to help people," Davis said.

Three Broome County legislators attended the meeting to hear the concerns and answer questions from the community.

"There are certain things you should provide as a county, human service is something the county needs to provide for people," said Anthony Fiala, Broome County Legislator.

He recommended for everyone at the forum to get together and spread their message across the county.

There is currently nothing on the table from Preston or the legislature to privatize any services. But an ongoing internal audit is analyzing whether a private company would be better suited to run Willow Point Nursing Home.

Some said at the forum that's evidence the outsourcing process has already begun.

To submit a comment on this article, your email address is required. We respect your privacy and your email will not be visible to others nor will it be added to any email lists.