ONEONTA – Mayor Gary Herzig said he “would not be surprised” to receive applications from within City Hall from department heads seeking to succeed Oneonta’s third city manager.
City Manager George Korthauer, whose resignation was announced this afternoon, helped assemble “a really outstanding team of department heads and staff,” Herzig said in an interview a few minutes ago. “There are folks who have the expertise, have the dedication and have the willingness to work hard.”
The mayor said he only learned of Korthauer’s decision to retire on Friday, and that is is “too early” to predict how the search for a successor will proceed.
ONEONTA – Common Council is scheduled to appoint George Korthauer as Oneonta’s third city manager at its Tuesday, May 16, meeting.
Korthauer served for 25 years as the city manager of Petoskey, Mich., retiring in 2009. During his tenure, he redeveloped the city’s Lake Michigan waterfront park, oversaw development of a marina, winter sport and athletic complex, as well as construction of the new City Hall.
ONEONTA – The search for Oneonta’s new City Manager will formally begin on Friday, Jan. 6.
“Our consultant, Catherine Tuck Parrish, will begin looking at applications,” said Mayor Gary Herzig during the Common Council meeting held earlier this evening. “She’ll weed out and present us with the candidates that she believes will be the best fit.”
ONEONTA – Mayor Herzig’s ad hoc Charter Review Committee last evening proposed removing the qualifications for the city manager from the charter, putting them in a job description, like all other positions. That would allow Common Council to change them by a majority vote.
“No other job has their requirements outlined in the charter,” said Committee member and Council member Melissa Nicosia, Second Ward. “I think the Common Council should determine what the qualifications are based on their needs. This allows the position to evolve.”
“Who knows what will work 10 years from now?” asked Committee member David Martindale.
In Exchange, Martin Murphy Agrees Not To Sue City Hall
By LIBBY CUDMORE • for allotsego.com
ONEONTA – In a special meeting at 9 a.m. today, City Manager Martin Murphy and the Common Council reached a settlement agreement, allowing Murphy to voluntarily resign with six months severance pay.
Murphy, who had served as city manager for 10 months following the departure of former city manager Mike Long, was suspended by a vote of 5-2, with one abstention, on Friday, July 17. He was not present at this morning’s meeting.
“It’s a sad day in the city,” said Council Member Dave Rissberger, Third Ward. “If we terminate one employee without due process, what’s to say we won’t do it to another?”
ONEONTA – After barring public comment before a packed house, a split Common Council this evening voted, 5-2, with one abstention, to suspend City Manager Martin Murphy, who has served as City Hall’s top executive for 10 months.
Three Council members, Bob Brzozowski, Chip Holmes and David Rissberger, argued that due process had been circumvented and Murphy was the victim of emotions gone out of control.
Meanwhile, a four-vote bloc – Council members Mike Lynch, Larry Malone, Maureen Hennessy and Madolyn O. Palmer – sat stolidly, saying nothing. Acting Mayor Russ Southard joined the four in voting for the suspension.
ONEONTA – The second effort to remove a city manager in as many years will be the topic of a special Common Council meeting scheduled for 6:30 Friday evening in City Hall.
A notice of the meeting was sent out at 6:36 this evening by City Clerk Doug Kendall, alerting the public that Acting Mayor Russ Southard called the meeting at the request of Council members Larry Malone, Mike Lynch, Maureen Hennessy and Madolyn O. Palmer. No particulars were provided.
In an interview this evening, however, Southard said Council intends to vote on a three-month severance package for Murphy, as called for in his contract. “It’s not clear cut how it’s going to come out,” he said. “Who knows if someone’s going to change their minds?”
According to various inputs, however, it was learned that Southard and Hennessy this morning asked City Manager Martin Murphy for his resignation, and he declined to give it.
If Murphy were asked to resign and declined to do so, he would be entitled to a public hearing, the mayor said. Council would then vote on contining the manager or ending the relationship.
When City Manager Martin Murphy joined City Hall in early October, Day One he started on his first budget, a $21.6 million spending plan for 2015 that Common Council will act on in December.
Murphy is no stranger to budgeting; previously, he was Cortland County administrator. “We were working with a $125 million budget, so it was much larger than what we have here,” he said. “But it’s all relative to the services the community needs.”
In his first budget, it’s focus. “A great deal of scrutiny is placed on fire and police,” he said. “They’re 40 percent of the budget, so you’re always scrutinizing the largest areas to see where you can have some efficiency.”
His first budget eliminates two vacant police positions and two from the fire department, one a vacancy and the second an expected retirement.
However, Murphy said, this change may not be permanent: $81,000 has been allocated for the Center for Public Safety Management to review the departments’ workload and deployment. “As the community changes, it’s important that we look at the places that need assistance and deploy our resources accordingly,” said the manager. “If it’s found that we need to put those positions back in, we will,” he said. “But we want to see what the calls and responses are so we can make data-driven decisions.”
Another $200,000 has been allocated to the fire department for a new ladder truck, totaling $400,000 with funds from the year prior.
With housing another priority, Murphy has proposed creating a full-time Community Development director, taking back duties Housing Specialist Jeff House had assumed on an interim basis.
But Murphy’s budget was not without detractors. At a public hearing on Tuesday, Nov. 25, John VanValkenburg declared, “Heaven forbid my house catch fire. I won’t be on the phone to 911 thinking, ‘I’m sure glad they hired a Community Development director’.”
Murphy also proposed eliminating a position from Human Resources and to replace a Recreation clerk with an administrative assistant.
His proposed a 25-cent bus fare increase to cover rising costs, buy new buses and maintain older ones, also drew criticism at the hearing. “We’re trying to bring people to Oneonta, not scare them out!” said Edward James Palumbo. “Many of us are on a fixed income.”
But overall, Martin is confident his budget will be passed by Common Council.
ONEONTA – Common Council, 6-1, this evening rejected suggestions it expand its search committee for a new city manager to include two members of the public.
Unanimously, Common Council did vote to expand the search committee to include the whole council, not just its Human Resources Committee.
“What we’ve been through,” said Council member Russ Southard, HR committee chair, referring to working 18 months with the first city manager, “makes us the best experienced people to select the next city manager.”
Council member Larry Malone, who is also a Charter Revision Committee member and served on the original Charter Commission, voted “nay” on including members of the public in the search, saying his constituents told him they’d hired him to do the job.
ONEONTA – Mayor Dick Miller has called a special meeting of Common Council for 7 p.m. Monday at City Hall to “discuss the city manager search and the possibility of expanding the membership of the committee.”
The mayor acted after three members of the Charter Revision Committee, at Tuesday’s Common Council meeting, asked him to add citizens with expertise to the search committee after concerns were raised about the search’s objectivity.
The editorial in this week’s Hometown Oneonta & Freeman’s Journal newspapers called for Oneonta’s Common Council to convene a broader search committee, including community members, to select a new city manager to, as the headline states, “Ensure Oneonta’s Professional Management Is Model For County.”
In a response issued this afternoon, Mayor Dick Miller, while disagreeing that the search committee needs expanding, issued a reassurance: “It has been and will continue to be the council’s decision as to how this search is conducted and who will be chosen as our next city manager. While it is true that I advise and guide the council, please be assured that each member is certainly capable of making thoughtful, independent decisions which I, as the city’s mayor, will fully respect.”
Here are the texts of the editorial and Mayor Miller’s response: