ONEONTA – Mayor Gary Herzig, Town Supervisor Bob Wood, county board reps and local elected officials will be sworn in for new terms at 1 p.m. Monday, Jan 1., at Hartwick College’s Shineman Chapel. The new county Democratic chair, Kim Muller, will emcee.
Meanwhile, that morning, the new county treasurer, Allen Ruffles, will be sworn in at 11 a.m. at the county courthouse in Cooperstown by county Judge John Lambert.
With Oneonta Town Supervisor Bob Wood to his left, and Oneonta Mayor Gary Herzig to his right, Santa Claus admires the City of Oneonta’s Christmas Tree just after it was lit this evening in Muller Plaza. As if scripted in a movie, snow began to fall just as the tree’s lights came on for the very first time. Christopher Brashear, pictured at right, and the Klipnocky Clangers handbell choir played holiday tunes to help get everyone in the holiday spirit. After the lighting, Santa occupied his cottage and began hearing youngsters’ Christmas wishes. (Parker Fish/AllOTSEGO.com)
ONEONTA – Route 23 near WalMart was shut down to traffic and residents were evacuated from the Lantern Hill trailer park after workers hit a 6–inch gas line that supplies Southside, Angel Heights and Davenport.
ONEONTA – At tonight’s Common Council meeting, Mayor Gary Herzig publicly chided Town of Oneonta Fire District commissioners for what he described as telling tales out of school.
While Fire Commissioners Johna Peachin and Fred Volpe sat stony-faced in the gallery, Herzig took them on for, he said, briefing Town Supervisor Bob Wood and the town board about long-stalled negotiations over the contract so the city’s professional department can continue providing services in the town.
On May 1, Herzig said, he and the other city negotiators, Finance Officer Meg Hungerford and Council member Russ Southard met with Peachin and Fire Commissioner Mike Butler. At that time, they agreed “negotiations would remain confidential and public comment should be avoided.”
“The city has honored that agreement with no public report having been provided – not even to the city’s Common Council. For this reason, I was both surprised and disappointed when the Commissioners recently presented a public report to the Town of Oneonta Supervisor and Board members.”
WEST ONEONTA – Republican Mike Butler, longtime Oneonta Triple A president, is challenging incumbent Democrat Bob Wood, five-term Oneonta town supervisor, for the town’s top job in the Nov. 7 local elections.
Butler, who recently resigned as chairman of the town Board of Fire Commissioners, said he doesn’t intend to raise the issue of the town-city fire pact in the upcoming campaign. “The fire contract needs to be done by the fire commissioners,” he said. “The town board doesn’t have time to deal with that.”
ONEONTA – With less than 72 hours before the expiration of its fire contract Town of Oneonta Fire District #1, Common Council this afternoon voted to extend the contract 45 days, as recommended by state Supreme Court Judge Michael V. Coccoma at last Thursday’s hearing.
“It’s unfortunate that this is how we have to do business,” said Mayor Gary Herzig during the special meeting. “But I’m confident that the new council will see that we’re compensated appropriately for the service we provide.”
Coccoma said he will help with the negotiations, and Town of Oneonta Supervisor Bob Wood has said that he plans to appoint a member of the Town Board to attend Fire Commission meetings and act as a liaison back to the board. “We’re glad to be protected for another 45 days,” said Wood.
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:
The 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.