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Residents voice concerns over proposed budget

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Residents voice concerns over proposed budget
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If the proposed Broome County budget passes in its current form, residents won't be spending anymore out of pocket on property taxes, but as YNN's Chris Whalen tells us, some say they'll be paying for the spending plan in other ways.

BROOME COUNTY, N.Y. -- When it's budget season, 'zero percent' is usually music to taxpayers' ears. But in Broome County, some residents say no tax increase in the proposed 2013 budget isn't as great as it sounds.

"I think it's very important for this community, if it's going to rebuild and thrive, to have a vital bus system that's affordable," said Binghamton resident Ann Ausby.

But those who rely on the bus system say the plan for public transit in next year's budget is anything but. Part of County Executive Debbie Preston's spending plan is a proposed 50 cent fare increase and a modified pass structure.

"Whatever happens with transportation is like throwing a stone in a pond. It has an ever-widening ripple effect. We can't spend our money. When we spend our money, we generate revenue for this county," said Darlene Dickinson of Endwell.

Some residents say the modifications will make it more difficult for them to work, shop and socialize and spoke before the County Legislature Thursday in the hopes that elected officials could shed some light on why the changes are being made.

"The Preston administration is committed to doing everything we can to boost transit. That's why we increased county support of the transit operation by 30 percent in this budget. It's almost $300,000, coupled with a minor fare increase. Something has to pay for these buses to run," said Deputy County Executive Bijoy Datta.

Lawmakers on the legislature say they understand the concerns of residents and hope they can find a viable solution.

"I know one of the things we might look at is maybe approaching BCC and entering into a contract with BC Transit, much like the city school district does or SUNY Binghamton does. Maybe that's an option we can look at, so I think there are some options we need to explore and work with the administration to come up with something if we can," said Broome County Legislator Jerry Marinich.

But that solution would still leave many riders unhappy and wondering how they'll travel through their everyday lives.

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