Binghamton-Johnson City Wastewater Plant Board Withdraws Funding for Veolia Audit

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Updated: 5/12/21 – 11:00 A.M.

ENDWELL, NY (WSKG) — The Binghamton-Johnson City Joint Wastewater Treatment Plant Board rescinded funding for a maintenance assessment, which has been the source of contention among city legislators. City officials indicate they will move ahead anyway.

The Binghamton-Johnson City Joint Wastewater Treatment Plant. (Vaughn Golden/WSKG)

The treatment plant board voted to rescind its previous motion made in March to allocate $66,300* for the city to bid out and oversee a maintenance assessment, or audit, of the plant. Last month, the city settled on awarding the contract to Veolia. That decision drew the ire of a number of community members given that the firm previously bid to privatize the treatment plant among other concerns.

Last week, the Village of Johnson City Board of Trustees voted to deny allowing the treatment plant board to move funding for the audit out of a contingency account. Since Johnson City shares ownership of the plant, it must approve any transfer of funds from one account to the other under rules of an intermunicipal agreement, explained Ed Crumb, a board member.

“The budget transfer is not going to be effective and we should nullify it in our minutes as well,” Crumb said.

The board voted unanimously, four to zero, to rescind the transfer of funds. Members Chris Papastrat and Ron Lake, both Binghamton appointees, had left the meeting before the matter was brought up. It was not listed as an agenda item.

In a statement to WSKG, Deputy Mayor Jared Kraham said the City of Binghamton is “still moving forward” with the audit.

Last month, Binghamton City Council narrowly approved both a measure allowing Mayor Rich David to enter into the contract with Veolia in addition to another measure authorizing the treatment plant board to transfer the funds out of the contingency account.

It’s unclear what options the city has in order to proceed given that the mayor is now authorized to sign the contract, but does not have any funds specifically appropriated to cover it.

*A previous version of this story indicated the amount of funds rescinded was just over $63,000. The story has been revised to reflect the actual amount, which is $66,300