Staff Report • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
COOPERSTOWN — The wait will be over next week for more than Derek Jeter’s Hall of Fame Induction.
Otsego County officials set a special meeting for 11 a.m., Tuesday, Sept. 7, in the Board of Representatives room at 197 Main St. in Cooperstown for the purposes of hiring a county administrator.
The county representatives worked out the details in a nearly three-hour executive session at their normal September meeting Wednesday, Sept, 1, which was also held in the meeting room in Cooperstown.
The hiring will end a years-long process for the county, which has 14 part-time legislators but no executive branch officials, a form of government unique in New York. Although a county administrator or executive had been proposed by various groups for decades, support for the position reached a tipping point among county officials about five years ago.
The county’s Intergovernmental Affairs Committee did a year-long study on the issue in 2019, ultimately recommending the county hire an administrator who would answer to the board and function as the county’s chief operating officer and chief budget officer.
The position was approved late in 2019 with a projected start date of July 2020. However, hiring was delayed a year when the county representatives instituted a hiring freeze to deal with revenue free falls during the coronavirus pandemic. The hiring process was reinitiated this spring and interviews have been on-going.
At the special meeting, the board will also discuss staffing for the new supplemental emergency services the county will offer to help stem the shortage of EMS volunteers county wide.
The board voted unanimously Wednesday as part of the consent agenda to approve a declaration of need for emergency medical services under state Public Health Law Article 30 section 3008(7a). Once the state approves the declaration, staffing for a county-run EMS service will take 30 to 45 days, Public Safety and Legal Affairs Chair Dan Wilber, R-Burlington, Edmeston, Exeter, Plainfield, told the representatives.
Last month the board approved the purchase of two ambulances at a cost of no more than about $434,000 with money from the federal COVID plan.
Wilber said the county would employ 18 to 20 EMS workers who would supplement volunteer services throughout the county as needed. The new hires will report to the E-911 department, he said.
The board also unanimously voted to hire a new EMS director, promoting Assistant Director Victor Jones to replace Art Klingler, who left for a similar position outside the county in late spring.
Representatives Rick Brockway, R-Laurens, Otego, and Andrew Stammel, D-Oneonta, were not at the meeting.