Broome County Executive Debra Preston is calling for the privatization of the county's central food department.

Preston included the initiative as part of her 2016 budget proposal. She released the spending plan to county lawmakers Thursday afternoon.

About 80 employees work for the food service operation based in a former supermarket building on East Main Street in Endicott.

The department provides thousands of meals a month for Willow Point Nursing Home residents and county jail inmates.

Preston wants the operation to be run by a private company. She said the move could result in an annual savings of $1.6 million.

Some of the people who work for the department have said they don't like the proposal and some county legislators also have raised questions about the possible change.

The county executive said the privatization plan was "one of the toughest decisions" she made in putting together her budget proposal.

Preston said she believed most of the department's current employees would be hired by the company chosen to take over the operation.

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