ONEONTA – It could be as easy as changing a few words.
“It is more apparent to me that we have a job that is titled ‘city manager’ in the Charter, but if you look at the description, it describes a city administrator,” said Mayor Gary Herzig during a special meeting of the Common Council this evening.
“The last three people we recruited as city managers were frustrated because they felt Council was too involved, Council was frustrated because they felt like they weren’t involved enough and the Mayor was frustrated because it was a struggle to know what was happening,” he said.
On one contentious issue – whether to keep the city manager’s qualifications in the charter, or allow them to be changed by a vote of Common Council – the mayor said he is willing to “leave the current qualifications unchanged in the charter.”
On another contentious issue – whether the charter should be changed to allow a mayor to cast a vote on selecting a city manager – Herzig said he would accept the status quo.
ONEONTA – A recommendation to move the city manager’s qualifications out of the city charter received the most negative comment this afternoon when proposed revisions were unveiled before a Common Council committee.
City Council Member David Rissberger, Third Ward, a member of the original Charter Revision Commission, said putting the qualifications in the charter was a response to public input.
“That was the biggest concern (in 2009-10) when we were rewriting the charter,” he said. “The number of times I heard people say, ‘You’re doing this so you can put so-and-so into the position.’”
Read the city charter: Meg Hungerford does not have the qualifications to be Oneonta city manager.
Efforts to put her in that position regardless damaged the last year of the Miller Administration, and continuing efforts to do so are preventing the implementation of a sensible city charter approved by 75 percent of the voters.
It’s past time for Mayor Gary Herzig to close the door on the Hungerford option and move on.
Instead, by forming an ad hoc committee to review the charter, and asking that the review be done before the end of the year so the current Common Council can fast-track any changes, the new
mayor risks poisoning his administration with many city voters before it’s even begun.
By all accounts, Hungerford is an excellent financial officer. But she lacks the training, experience and qualifications specified in the charter for the $120,000 position:
• One, she lives in East Meredith, 10 miles from Oneonta (and in another county, Delaware, not Otsego.)
• Two, she lacks the master’s degree in public administration or a related field. (Does the home to Hartwick and SUNY Oneonta really believe that doesn’t matter?)
• Three, she lacks the relevant professional experience.
There’s nothing the matter with not meeting the qualifications for Oneonta city manager. Many people don’t. Many brainy, happy and successful people don’t meet the qualifications for brain surgeon, or construction engineer, or ship captain; but they don’t seek do brain surgery, build skyscrapers or pilot a Viking cruise ship.
ONEONTA – The Charter Review Commission is scheduled to report the findings of its four-month study of how the new city charter has been implemented at tonight’s Common Council meeting, beginning at 7.
But Mayor Dick Miller said the recommendations, developed after the abrupt retirement of Oneonta’s first city manager, Mike Long, won’t be considered until the next city manager is hired. “The question becomes, how does the council want to process it (the review commission’s report) once the search is over,” he said.
He doesn’t expect any action by the council this evening. “The response will require a special meeting of council, either in retreat format, or starting early” at a later date, he said.
The commission chair, Laurie Zimniewicz, told him she expects to speak for less than five minutes, Miller said.
The report was included in council members’ agendas, which were distributed on Friday. For full text, check www.allotsego.com after this evening’s meeting.