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Head of Legislature: Drug Treatment Facility Vote Held Over Due To Lack of Transparency

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The Broome County Legislature will not be voting on whether to open a drug treatment facility by the end of this year.

In a statement, Broome Legislative Chairman Dan Reynolds said the legislature was not able to review the project, pointing to a lack of transparency by County Executive Jason Garnar and members of the state Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS). Reynolds added the legislature was excluded from the RFP process.

"Despite claims of transparency, instead we have had to ask repeatedly for the same information. Some of our questions to OASAS from back in late September are still unanswered. That’s not an appropriate level of transparency."

The resolution that would turn the Broome Developmental Center into a drug treatment facility with $3 million in state funds will now be held over until January. In the past, Garnar has stated he expected the facility to be up and running by that time.

Every day the Chairman waits to accept state funding for treatment, another life is lost. The time for debate has ended, the time for action is now.

— Jason Garnar (@jasongarnar) December 1, 2017

Reynolds says his questions about the project are justified. 

"This is the first step for the entire Legislature to engage the medical community, local substance abuse treatment and rehabilitation providers, law enforcement, families and advocates of those impacted by the drug epidemic, local officials and the public at large in a candid and transparent review process."

— Dan Reynolds (R) Chairman, Broome County Legislature

Below is a response from Senator Fred Akshar:

"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 heroin and opioid epidemic, time means lives.”

Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo released a statement Friday afternoon.

“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.”