Public forum held for Broome County shared services plan - Binghamton-area News, Weather, Sports

Public forum held for Broome County shared services plan

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BINGHAMTON (WBNG) -- Thursday night was an opportunity for people in Broome County to speak out about potential shared services.

It's a part of a plan under the 2018 New York state budget in an effort to cut down on property taxes. The plan asks county officials to develop ways to combine services to lower the cost of local government.

Broome County Executive Jason Garnar (D) held the first of three public forums on the topic Thursday night at the Broome County Public Library.

"Is it going to cut our taxes in half? No, it's a way we're going to be able to chip at it," Garnar said. 

In a span of three months, a panel full of municipality leaders and school district officials will create the plan.

"We were talking about getting into a health insurance pool, perhaps saving money that way," explained Garnar.  "We also talked about municipalities do, do some shared services but some of the shared services are more informal agreements and there's talk about formalizing those agreements and actually making them law."

The plan laid out in the state budget requires Garnar to present a shared services plan to the Broome County Legislature by Aug. 1.

"The legislature will then review the plan and if they would like to give me feedback on the plan, they don't actually vote on the plan," added Garnar.

Garnar says the committee has to take a final vote on the plan he presents before September 15th.

Thursday night was the first public forum for residents to give their thoughts and ideas on shared services. If the panel does not pass the plan in September, officials will have to create a new plan next year and go through the same process. 

"It's a good idea in some areas and others I don't think it's a good idea," said Binghamton resident Mike Dempsey. "I think there's been a lot of cuts over the last 15, 20 years, so I think we got to look in maybe a different direction, close some things down when they're no longer an asset to the community." 

Some officials said people shouldn't expect anything too drastic in this plan.

"They're not going to try to do any real consolidation or dissolution, as they call it," explained Johnson City Mayor Gregg Deemie (R). "We don't have time to do that. We're more looking at what we can do to share services to save taxpayer dollars in the long run."

Garnar said this plan needs the public's input to be successful.

"You never know when your ideas could be a great idea we could formulate into the shared services plan," said Garnar. 

No dates have been set yet for the next two public forums. Garnar also said the state may give the county back the amount of money saved through the shared services plan. However, that would be decided when next year's state budget is drawn up.

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