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Binghamton-Johnson City Sewer Plant Moves Closer to Private Management

VESTAL, NY (WSKG) - The Binghamton-Johnson City Joint Sewage Treatment Plant moves a step closer to private management this week.

Bids from firms hoping to take control of the plant are set to be opened.

The plant is owned by both the City of Binghamton and the Village of Johnson City. Under the proposal that won’t change, but it would be managed by a private firm.

When the new managers take over, there’s a worry that current employees will be fired. However, Binghamton Mayor Rich David said that’s not in his plan.

“If all of the firms came in and said 'we want to eliminate all the employees that work there and bring in our own employees', we would not support that as the owners," David said.

But what about down the line? Could the management eliminate jobs then?

"That's a good question," David said. "The management company has to be able to manage employees so they would have ability to hire and fire employees down the road."

Critics, who include some members of Binghamton City Council, say the push for private management is going to0 fast. Earlier this month, there were reports of construction delaysin the Press and Sun Bulletin.  A $275 million rebuild is underway at the plant.

Initially, bids were due a week ago, but now they'll be opened June 26.  “I guess that’s just sort of like typical with what’s going on with the construction at the plant," said City Council member Dan Livingston earlier this month. "They set a deadline and then they keep moving it."

"It’s an indicator that there’s other stuff going on that they're not able to plan for,” he added.

Livingston's comments came after he toured the plant, and he was criticized by the Mayor David's office for posting a video of that tour. The mayor cited the New York Comptroller's cybersecurity guidelines. Livingston removed the video from his page, as did Council member Conrad Taylor, who also posted it.

David has called criticism from Livingston, Taylor and others political. "I do believe there is an intentional effort to spread misinformation to the public and to thwart this public-private partnership that we are exploring," he said.

"We don't even have the results of the bid, yet," David added.