News of Otsego County

Serving Otsego County, NY, through the combined reporting of Cooperstown's Freeman's Journal and the Hometown Oneonta newspapers.
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Letters To The Editor

STAMMEL: Fire Commissioners Should Consider Resigning Posts
LETTER TO EDITOR

STAMMEL: Fire Commissioners

Should Consider Resigning Posts

To the Editor:

Andrew Stammel
Andrew Stammel

It is now 2016 and the failure of the Town of Oneonta fire commissioners to execute a fire protection contract with the City for this year is a serious and concerning matter. The town and city governments continue to work together on a host of efforts, including economic development, communications, sewer and water and highway work.

Most of the town’s residents and businesses currently rely on the city for professional fire protection. At the same time, the city depends on the million-dollar contribution of town residents to employ and equip Oneonta firefighters and to keep city taxes more manageable. The collaborative efforts around fire protection and ambulance services are a prime example of how the town and city have worked together effectively for decades to promote the general welfare of Oneonta in a manner which best serves each jurisdictions’ taxpayers.

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Fellow Town District Residents Say: Sign The Fire Contract With City Now
LETTER TO ALLOTSEGO.COM EDITOR

Fellow Town District Residents Say:

Sign The Fire Contract With City Now

Editor’s Note:  Here is a Letter to the Editor of www.AllOTSEGO.com from Carol Malz, who was elected to the Town of Oneonta Fire District #1 board of commissioners on Dec. 8.  Because of the time-sensitivity of negotiations between the commissioners and the City of Oneonta on fire protection, send any letters to info@allotsego.com and they will be posted on this site.

To the Editor of AllOTSEGO.com:

Carol Malz
Carol Malz

I was recently elected as one of five fire commissioners for the Town of Oneonta Fire District #1. Thank you to everyone who wrote my name in; I am honored by your apparently good opinion of me. Unfortunately, I may not be able to serve after Dec. 29, 2015, as my new employment may prohibit holding elective office.  Nevertheless, I have had many questions about the Fire District and the current situation, and have been asked many questions which I had not been able to answer.

Like me, you may have just thought we were covered by the City of Oneonta Fire Department and never even knew we had a district with a board of commissioners.  So, I have sought answers and here is what I have learned.  I welcome corrections of any errors.

The hamlet of West Oneonta and area to the west of Route 205, including the Plains, is covered by the West Oneonta Fire Department, which is served by volunteers.  The rest of the Town of Oneonta is covered by the Town of Oneonta Fire District #1.  All of the Town of Oneonta, however, is covered by ambulance services with the City of Oneonta Fire Department.

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Town Board: Offer Would Raise Fire Fee Only 15¢ Per Thousand
LETTER TO ALLOTSEGO.COM EDITOR

Town Board: Offer Would Raise

Fire Fee Only 15¢ Per Thousand

Editor’s Note:  This letter from the Oneonta Town Board arrived too late for this week’s editions of Hometown Oneonta and The Freeman’s Journal.  Due to its timely nature, we are publishing it as the first Letter to the Editor of our website.

 To the Editor of AllOTSEGO.com:

oneonta town seal copyThe Town of Oneonta is protected by two fire districts.  West Oneonta protects the town basically west of State Route 205 and primarily the hamlet of West Oneonta, including the Plains at Parish Homestead.  The rest of the town is protected by the Oneonta Fire District.  Both of the districts elect commissioners and determine a budget that is presented to the town where we levy a separate tax on the residents of the district that you live in.  The Town Board has no say in the elections or the budget prepared by the commissioners.

The Town of Oneonta Fire District has for more than 30 years contracted for both fire and ambulance protection with the City of Oneonta. The commissioners negotiate a formula which needs to be reviewed periodically. The Town Board has a contract for ambulance coverage that allows the City of Oneonta to bill town residents who use the ambulance and to help offset the “uncollectable” ambulance charges.

Approximately 15 years ago there was an effort to separate the services. At that time, the chairman of the commissioners was informed by an attorney from the state Comptroller’s Office that the services were not separable in a department that provided both services.   Currently, there is a difference of opinion regarding that determination.

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STAMMEL: Voters, Thanks For Your Help

STAMMEL: Voters, Thanks For Your Help

To the Editor:

Thank you to everyone who supported me and our campaign this fall. These races are long and difficult and without the support of friends, families, and neighbors, they would be impossible. Thank you especially to former Rep. Rich Murphy, whose eagerness to offer me assistance and advice was instrumental.

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Condescending, Arrogant Editorial Fails To Heal Tensions

Condescending, Arrogant Editorial Fails To Heal Tensions

To the Editor:

In last week’s editorial, “Republicans Romped. Now, What Are They Going to Do?,” much was made of the results of the recent election for the Otsego County Board of Representatives. It was pointed out that county Republicans did very well, putting the Republicans, with 4,600 weighted votes, well ahead of the Democrats, with 1,627 weighted votes, in the county’s system of weighted voting.

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Litmus Test: Will Adjustments Make Village Residents’ Lives More Pleasant?

Litmus Test: Will Adjustments Make

Village Residents’ Lives More Pleasant?

The Freeman’s Journal/HOMETOWN ONEONTA

Edition of Thursday-Friday, Dec. 25-26, 2014

To the Editor:

We are all entitled to utter vapid statements now and then. Unfortunately, at least one of mine was made out-loud, in public: At the Village Board meeting in November, during the public comment segment, I made the suggestion that if the board wanted to help Bassett Healthcare it would remove the time limit on parking in residential areas.

I felt justified when, a week later, The Freeman’s Journal reported that Bassett had decided to move 40 full-time jobs to Utica now and maybe 100 in the future. A key factor, Bassett’s spokesperson said, was that Utica promises to dedicate 125 parking spaces to Bassett employees.

But I soon came to realize that my statement of November was thoughtlessly hasty. I was presenting the parking issue as an alternative to changes in the zoning law, but I spoke, in effect, in behalf of commercial interests in the village while ignoring the interests of the residents of the village. This did not make the statement evil, but the commercial interests have highly focused resources at their disposal. The residents, as a body of separate individuals, do not. And my focus is residential.

One illustration of the importance of focus relates to the recent effort to create a new comprehensive plan for Cooperstown. The comprehensive plan of 1994 was the work, over a three-year period, of a committee of village residents headed by Giles Russell. The most recent planning effort was assigned to a firm from Saratoga Springs that seemed to regard the opinions of visitors to the village as important as the opinions of village residents, or more so.

I attended all three summary meetings (charrettes) conducted by the Saratoga Springs firm and concluded that their effort could not compare in thoroughness or practical effectiveness to the effort made by Giles Russell and the village residents on the comprehensive plan committee.

All of this relates to my thoughts about parking in residential areas. I have discussed this with several long-time residents of the village. Some are retired, some commute, some work in Cooperstown, all simply want to live in a pleasant and relatively stress-free environment. A change in the parking laws will do them no good. Me neither.

WENDELL TRIPP
Cooperstown

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Many Have Received Unclaimed Funds. Don’t Give Up

Many Have Received Unclaimed Funds. Don’t Give Up

The Freeman’s Journal/HOMETOWN ONEONTA

Edition of Thursday-Friday, Dec. 25-26, 2014

To the Editor:

After reading R. Scott Duncan’s letter in last week’s newspaper describing his difficulties retrieving funds through the state Office of Unclaimed Funds, I want to offer a few thoughts.

The mailing from my office was intended to notify individuals of this useful service and to help people access the more than $13 billion in unclaimed funds held by New York State through the comptroller’s office.
Unclaimed funds could come from an old savings account, utility deposit, a security dividend check or several other sources.

There is no charge to reclaim funds owed to you, and I have heard from a great number of constituents who have successfully retrieved their money – to date, nearly $375,000 has been returned statewide this year alone!

However, when claims are complicated by estate issues and other legal matters, there may be additional requirements to prove that you are the person who is legally allowed to collect the funds. The requirements are listed online at http://www.osc.state.ny.us/ouf/ and many of the forms needed may be found there as well.

The Office of Unclaimed Funds has an extremely detailed “Frequently Asked Questions” section that should be able to help with most concerns. If you require additional assistance, there is also a toll free phone number, 1-800-221-9311.

A link to the Office of Unclaimed Funds can also be found on my website, www.senatorjimseward.com.

JAMES L. Seward
State Senator
R-Milford

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Letter Misleads On State Of Town Of Otsego Affairs

Letter Misleads On State Of Town Of Otsego Affairs

The Freeman’s Journal/HOMETOWN ONEONTA

Edition of Thursday-Friday, Dec. 18-19, 2014

To the Editor:

As supervisor, I wish to clarify some points in Sheila Ross’ letter of Nov. 21 implying the Town of Otsego awarded raises to many at the expense of the highway workers.

The only raise awarded in the new budget was a cost-of-living 1.5 percent raise to the town clerk, whose office hours are 16 but who is on call when outside her regular hours. She attends many meetings and covers for other workers who do not have many office hours.

The highway workers’ annual raise is in the three-year union contract signed in early 2014 with the workers’ full agreement. In the contract, the startup hourly rate is raised from $12.50 to $13.11 per hour and there is an annual 30 cent an hour increase for each of the next three years. They are the only employees at the town who can receive benefits.

I personally both like and respect all the Town of Otsego highway employees. They are good, decent men and their job is important to the Town.

The town and village courts consolidated in March 2014 with extra work and hours, especially parking tickets. A part timer is scheduled to be involved during the summer.

Before consolidation, the court clerk worked 10 hours per week part time for the town and full time for the village. After consolidation, she works 30 hours per week and her income rose in the town because of that. That is not a raise!

The assessor was hired mid-contract to fill a vacated position by the former assessor. His salary is unchanged from that seven-year contract. He works both in and out of the office as well and being willing to step up and complete the town’s 2015 reval.

ANNE GEDDES-ATWELL
Otsego Town Supervisor

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Search For ‘Unclaimed Funds’ Ends In Disappointment

Search For ‘Unclaimed Funds’ Ends In Disappointment

HOMETOWN ONEONTA/The Freeman’s Journal

Edition of Thursday-Friday, Dec. 18-19, 2014

To the Editor:

If you received the giant postcard from state Sen. Jim Seward’s office stating you may have “New York State Unclaimed Funds waiting for you! …There’s never any charges to search or file for unclaimed funds.” Don’t believe it. Don’t believe it.

I was surfing the Internet a while back and decided to look into that site. I put in the names of my mother and stepfather and, sure enough, their names came up saying that there were funds available.

To make a long story short I contacted my brother, since I had turned executorship over to him. He was the one that had to fill out the forms. We ended up going to the county seat and spending around $70 to get the forms needed. Also there was the money I spent in gas driving over to Sherburne and back a couple times.

The government would not tell us how much money was there until we bought and sent in the forms. I also sent a copy of my birth certificate, which it cost me $20 or $30 plus a three-month wait.

As we were getting the forms together we discovered my mother’s lawyer had never closed the estate. How is it the government did not required him to do this? He is now dead, so we would have to pay another lawyer to close the estate. There goes another $300 plus? So we sent in the paperwork we had.

They sent us a request for more documentation! At the time they told us there was a grand total of around $90! So we told him we did not want to pursue this matter any more. It was costing more money for form of proof than what we would get back. What’s the point?

So we requested a return of our documents. They have refused to return the documentation that we paid for. The documents belong to us as we paid for them. If they had any intelligence they would copy or check off receiving the documents and return the originals.

To me, it seems the whole affair was just another way for the government to get more money from us by having us purchase all these forms and documents from the government. If the documents where already part of government why did we have to purchase them again? Couldn’t they have just looked them up?

Another example of government incompetency and their lack of understanding that they are public servants. We pay their salary, they are not supposed to make life harder for us.

R. SCOTT DUNCAN
Hartwick Forest

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County’s Avarice Takes All, Not Just What I Owe

County’s Avarice Takes All, Not Just What I Owe

Edition of Thursday-Friday, Dec. 11-12, 2014

To the Editor:

I read your editorial (of Nov. 27-28) and it brought tears to my eyes. You have a clear understanding of my agony to redeem my home.

For 51 days before the auction I tried without success to keep the house OUT of the auction and pay what I owed. My pleas did fall on deaf ears and cold hearts.

Mr. Crowell had full discretion to remove any property from the auction but, alas, he chose not to. He didn’t want to “disappoint” any potential buyer by removing any properties out of the catalogue. That’s the best he could do?

To make matters worse, a co-worker (who once worked in the treasurer’s office and still has close ties) bid on my home and is now waiting, as I am, for the outcome. Imagine working 50 feet away from someone who can’t wait to evict you. I pray to keep my home, while they want to add it to their “farming operation.”

The avarice of the county to take everything I have rather than what I owe them is something that most of the citizens may not be aware of. So many people think I would get the balance after taxes were satisfied. You stated it correctly….the county keeps it all. Everything.

Thank you, sir, for your insight and kindness. Perhaps the board will be merciful and I will have peace again. I was at the Dec. 3 board meeting asking again to pay what I owe them. Perhaps a Christmas Miracle! We have to change this redemption policy and allow individuals to keep their homes.

MARIA AJELLO
Town of Richfield

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