BUFFALO, N.Y. — New York State has offered Broome County a rent-free turnkey building and $2.7 million to cover treatment and startup costs for a new opioid treatment center.
"This is really a once in a lifetime opportunity to do some real great in our community and really help a lot of people and really heal our community," Broome County Executive Jason Garnar, D, said.
The Broome County Legislature is not planning to vote on a resolution to accept the funding until at least January. Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz, D, said he doesn't understand the delay.
"I'm watching this and I'm thinking to myself, ‘well if Broome County doesn't want it, we certainly could use it here,’" Poloncarz said. "There's no doubt about it."
He relayed that message Wednesday to the governor, the state senate leader, and the assembly speaker. Poloncarz said he's not advocating to prevent the current project, but wants them to know Erie County is ready to take advantage of the funding if it becomes available.
"We have a public health facility over at the ECMC campus that we own that a good portion of it, at least one-quarter of it is currently unused," he said.
Garnar said he's not offended by Poloncarz's request, and calls his Erie County counterpart a leader in fighting the opioid epidemic.
"He understands the importance of these funds. He's going to want those funds for his community too," he said.
Garnar said while the Legislature has important factors to consider, the letter could potentially speed up the decision.
"We're not going to stop fighting for these funds. In my heart of hearts, I really believe that the county legislature is going to vote on this. They are going to approve this funding," he said.
Poloncarz said he'll discuss his letter with state leaders while in Albany this week. He said he doesn't want to see the funds used for something other than treatment.
"If they agree to accept it and they move forward, that's good for Broome County. I'm still going to push for an opioid treatment center on this side of the state," Poloncarz said.
The county executive said the region has a number of good treatment facilities, but could certainly benefit from another center that takes a comprehensive approach.