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Leaders Talk Merging Two Sewage Projects

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Leaders in Binghamton and Johnson City are looking at merging a water quality improvement project for the Susquehanna River with the multimillion dollar rebuild of the Binghamton Johnson City Joint Sewage Treatment Plant.

The joint sewage plant has been awarded grant money under the DEC's Water Quality Improvement Project. 

The most recent was a $400,000 grant in 2016 to remove a gravel bar and install structures to deal with erosion along the river banks and islands. 

 John Lagorda of GHD Engineering is the project manager for the plant's rebuild. Lagorda told the group more work is needed for the Joint Sewage Treatment Facility that wasn't included in the original estimate.

Working alongside the Army Corps, Lagorda said the Plant Board has gotten approval to remove the estimated 15,000 tons of gravel structures currently in place and replace them. Removal could begin as early as July, and the disposal of old bars would cost nothing.

The new price tag would arise from the removal process, which could see an adjustment of around $250,000 needed to be picked up by taxpayers. Binghamton City Councilman, Giovanni Scaringi, had some concerns with the bidding process, worried that this project could be another collector of debt for home-owners.

"I have a very, very cause for concern with regard to a lot of the amendments and changes that have occurred over time. Obviously, these things have been budgeted for...but the cost issue is concerning," said Giovanni Scaringi.

Scaringi reiterated that before allocating more funds for the re-improvement project he wants to lower the cost as much as possible. "There will be an opportunity to get even more grants in order to offset the needed funds." But said he knows something needs to be done before there is an impact on the environment.

Johnson City Mayor Greg Deemie said he understands the public's frustration with an ongoing build-up of needed improvements to the Facility. He said the renovation of the Treatment Facility should have been started 20 years ago, "It would have been less of an expense for the taxpayers," said Mayor Deemie. But due to a much-needed overhaul to a nearly decapitated Plant that serves an immediate need, someone had to start somewhere.

"I'm a taxpayer too, so I'm going to look out for the best interest of the taxpayers and try to make it as painless as it can be," said Mayor Deemie.

He finished by saying he believes there will be an increase in taxes but is unsure of how much residents could be facing.