Broome County: No vote on drug treatment facility this year - Binghamton-area News, Weather, Sports

Broome County: No vote on drug treatment facility this year

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(WBNG) -- The proposed plan to turn the former Broome Developmental Center into a drug treatment facility will not be voted on this year.

According to the Broome County Office of Management and Budget, the vote will not take place during December, pushing it back until at least Jan. 2018. The office tells 12 News that the resolution is not currently scheduled to be voted on.

As Chairman of the Legislature, Dan Reynolds has the power to not bring a resolution to a vote or table them until a future date.

Broome County Executive Jason Garnar said back in October that he expected the new center to be open and functioning by early 2018.

The campus, located on Glenwood Road in the town of Dickinson, is made up of 11 buildings, totaling around 400,000 square feet. Syracuse Behavioral Healthcare was chosen to run the facility.

Back in October, Reynolds says he sent two letters expressing surprise and frustration about what he calls a lack of communication and transparency between the County Executive's office and the Legislature when it comes to putting a new drug treatment center at the former Broome Developmental Center facility.

Reynolds has not said he opposes the project, only that he believes there has been a lack of transparency. He and Garnar have had public disagreements about how the proposal came about and who was involved in the decision making process.

New York State has agreed to give up to $3 million a year to fund the project.

The Broome Developmental Center facility has not been in full use in more than a year and a half.

Broome County Legislature Chairman Dan Reynolds released the following statement Friday:

The Legislature has recently received a request from the County Executive to accept funding from OASAS regarding the proposed drug treatment center. There’s a substantial amount of information to review and there are a few items, including a budget detailing how the public funds would be allocated, that were not submitted to Legislature, despite the County Executive acknowledging that he is in possession of the information this week.   

Similar to other large issues, the Legislature intends to hold a Committee-of-the-Whole meeting prior to the consideration of the related resolution.  I met with both the State Senator and the County Executive on Tuesday of this week (11-28-17) and described how the Legislature would review the material and the proposed time frame for doing so. They were both informed that the Legislature would hold a Committee-of-the-Whole meeting in January and that barring any unforeseen problems, the Legislature would consider the resolution during the following month, like we have in other situations.   

Regarding this proposal, there was no study or needs assessment conducted by the County Executive or State Senator in connection with this project. Additionally, there was not a project description, overview or any report specific to this project beyond the initial RFP and the RFP response for the Legislature to review. For the past several months the Legislature has been proactively attempting to acquire information from the County Executive, state agencies, OASAS, the proposed provider and others to aid in our review process and make up for some of the deficiencies that occurred early in this process.

The Legislature will follow the mandate under the County Charter and conduct a thorough review of the RFP, the RFP response and the proposed resolution to accept funding for this program. Unlike the process to date, the Legislature will have our meetings in full view of the public rather than behind closed doors.

Early on the Senator and County Executive had an opportunity to request that New York State administer and control the entire process from RFP to the awarding of the grant, but instead, they chose to utilize the County to award the RFP and dispense the grant funds. When the County is involved, the Legislature is required to review the contract and all ancillary information associated with the agreement. I’m surprised and disappointed that both Senator Akshar and County Executive Garnar appear to be interfering in that process.

They are both very skilled at holding press conferences and issuing statements, and I’m sure they will continue to attack either me personally or the Legislature. However, those personal attacks do not change the Legislature’s responsibility to the taxpayers of this community by reviewing this or any other proposal that involves public funds.  

As I have said many times, we all understand that there is a significant opioid addiction problem across the county, but having an honest and open discussion over how best to dispense public tax dollars to combat that problem should always be an accepted practice. If the County Executive or State Senator are at a point where they believe that elected representatives should no longer ask questions or discuss public proposals, then perhaps both should go back for a history lesson on the foundation of our democracy.

New York State Sen. Fred Akshar (R) released the following statement Friday:

"To move forward, this project simply needs the Broome County Legislature to vote to accept funding from the State to bring much-needed addiction treatment services to the former Broome Developmental Center, just as they have accepted state funding for other projects. 

I’m disappointed that this resolution hasn’t been added to either of the Legislature’s two meetings this month nor has a Committee of the Whole been called to further discuss it. As I've said in the past, the Broome County Legislature needs to do their due diligence on this project, but they have been part and parcel to this conversation for months. Any unnecessary delay does nothing but hurt Southern Tier families and prevents us from saving lives. 

When President Trump and Governor Cuomo can both agree that the heroin and opioid epidemic has become a public health crisis and requires action, you know it truly is a pervasive issue. Anyone who thinks that we're already doing enough to combat this epidemic clearly has their head buried in the sand. In the business world, time means money. When dealing with the opioid epidemic, time means lives.”

The following statement was released by Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo (D).

“Time is of the essence regarding the treatment facility at Broome Development Center. With elected officials from the federal government down to the local level – on both sides of the political aisle – recognizing the magnitude of issue, it's frustrating that the Broome County Legislature's majority has not made this project a priority. We've made this process as transparent as possible and worked with Syracuse Behavioral Health and County departments to answer every question and concern that has been raised. This is the final hurdle for the treatment facility to clear; the Legislature's lack of cooperation shows very poor judgment.”

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