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Residents express disapproval over proposal for Binghamton-Johnson City Joint Sewage Treatment Plant

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(WBNG) -- Binghamton City Council members heard from the public Wednesday night about a proposal to audit the Binghamton-Johnson City Sewage Treatment Plant by Veolia, a private company.

Binghamton Mayor Rich David is proposing an agreement with Veolia to conduct an audit of maintenance operations. However, residents say Veolia does not have a good reputation.

"Once they are in, they raise their costs, and then the taxpayer ends up paying more because obviously, they need to make a profit," said Valdi Weiderpass, a Binghamton resident.

In 2016, Michigan's attorney general filed a lawsuit against Veolia for negligence in Flint's water crisis. Residents from Flint actually attended Wednesday's meeting, pleading with council members to not make the same mistake.

"We don't want any other community to experience what we experienced," said Nayyirah Shariff, director of Flint Rising, a non-profit organization. "I really do not want that to happen to your community, the idea of that even happening is making me tear up."

Residents and some council members say faulty equipment at the plant was built by Veolia. They say they don't trust the company to complete a fair assessment of operations.

"I'm really curious why the mayor is so insistent that Veolia has to do the audit. It really doesn't inspire confidence given what we know about the plant," said Binghamton resident Tina Chronopoulos.

Council members say they had not actually read the final contract with Veolia prior to the vote. They say they received a template of a contract. Instead of voting on the resolution, the city council has scheduled a special meeting for Monday, April 12 at 6 p.m. In the meantime, council members say they want to see a complete contract.

Katie Jones

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