Oneonta Town Board Rejects GO-EDC Study

 ONEONTA TOWN BOARD

REJECTS GO-EDC STUDY

Andrew Stammel addresses petitioners at tonight's Town Hall Meeting, where no one seconded the motion to vote on GO-DEC's proposed government efficiency study. (Ian Austin/ allotsego.com)
Town Board member Andrew Stammel addresses petitioners at tonight’s Town Hall meeting, where no one seconded the motion to vote on GO-EDC’s proposed government efficiency study. (Ian Austin/ allotsego.com)

By LIBBY CUDMORE • for allotsego.com

ONEONTA – 24 hours after Common Council voted unanimously to pay its $12,500 share of the Local Government Efficiency Grant to study cost-saving measures between the town and the city, the Town Board refused to even bring the resolution, prepared by GO-EDC’s Bill Shue and Al Colone, to a motion for vote.

“We don’t respond to ransoms,” said Town Board member Andrew Stammel.  “These are two activists who don’t live in our town and made a demand. We hear a petition, we have a dialogue, we ask our townspeople and we craft a piece of legislation.”

For almost an hour and a half, town residents debated the proposed study. “Why are we even addressing this?” asked Kate Barns.  “A good portion of us don’t want this study.”

“In 1903, we wanted to merge with the city, but the city wasn’t interested,” said Don Webster.  “What changed? Money.”

“Shared services make me gag,” said Marie Lusins, a member of the Town Planning Board. “We do have shared services. Do we want another $12,500 to tell us this? No.”

And though everyone who spoke was against merger, several spoke up in favor of the study.  “Information is knowledge,” said Bob Harlem.  “There will not be a merger in my lifetime, but we should let a third party look into sharing services.  Working together is a good idea.”

“I’m neither for nor against this,” said David Rowley, former Oneonta City School district superintendent.  “But when I was superintendent, me and the other county superintendents were constantly getting together and talking about ways we can save.  For $12,500, it’s worth seeing if there were four or five targeted actions that could save us money.  The more info we have, the better off.”

“I suspect we can cooperate much more than we have,” said county Rep. Kay Stuligross, D-Oneonta,  echoing her comments from the City Council meeting on Tuesday, July 7.

At times, insults were hurled.  “When I go to work in the morning, Stewart’s looks like the DPW parking lot,” said Alan Hughes.  “Those aren’t the services I want!”

“I realize this is all very polarizing,” said /Town Supervisor Bob Wood.  “Al and Bill are doing their best, but they’ve driven a wedge when they wanted to make something better.”

Shue did not speak during the meeting. “By not speaking, it allowed people to talk to their town government,” he said. “But I thought it would be more level-headed.”