First Public Hearing Held on Broome County Budget Proposal

Residents voiced their concerns over a variety of topics including Central Foods and the heroin epidemic. Mike Toper has more.

BINGHAMTON, N.Y. -- Two weeks ago, Broome County Executive Debbie Preston unveiled her proposed 2016 Broome County budget. On Thursday, residents offered their thoughts. Some used the time to address the heroin problem in the county. Last week, a proposal to fund heroin treatment using sales tax dollars was tabled.

"Those people continue to overdose, they continue to die, they continue to commit crimes to supports their habits," Alexis Pleus said. "We continute to incarcerate, put them in jail and pay for that. Yet we're not paying for substance abuse issues."

The biggest issue in the room however, was the future of Central Foods. The new budget would outsource it to a private company. Central Foods prepares meals for nursing homes, Meals on Wheels, prisons and other institutions.

"We also feel strongly that no one out of town, private corporation, should be profiting from our tax dollars while sending our tax dollars out of the community," one worker said.

"Many have wondered why they have heard nothing until more recently," said Jason Arthur. "I will tell you why, it was submitted late and kept under wraps so that any protest against the proposal wouldn't gain support before the budget was passed."

Right now, Central Foods employs 82 people. Many of them are concerned that they will be out of work or without the same pay and benefits very soon. The legislature has until November 15 to submit changes to the budget.

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