News of Otsego County

Oneonta Common Council

City of the Hills: May 6, 2021

City of the Hills

City passes firefighter accord

The Oneonta Common Council unanimously passed an agreement between the city of Oneonta and the Professional Oneonta Firefighters, Local 2408, as it pertains to alleged violations of collective bargaining agreements at the council’s meeting Tuesday, May 4.
The Common Council also authorizing two three-year contracts with Castella Waste Management of New York.

Mental health month helpers

May is National Mental Health Awareness Month. User-friendly accurate information on mental illness and helpful resources can be found at
People with ongoing mental health challenges can find support by calling upon peers at The Warm Line at 607-433-0661. Information about regular support meetings for families and friends can be obtained by emailing Crisis?: MCAT 844 732-6228 (24 hr) or the National Suicide Prevention Helpline: 800 273-8255/ text TALK to 741741.

ONEONTA COMMON COUNCIL: So Where Do You Stand? Democracy? Insurrection?
LETTER from ONEONTA COMMON COUNCIL & Otsego County Board of Representatives

So Where Do You Stand?

Democracy? Insurrection?

To the Editor:

The violence in D.C. on Jan. 6, 2021, which led to the deaths of five people, have clarified the one question that needs to be asked of our country, state and regional representatives: Are you for the democratic process or are you for insurrection?

There is no longer any nuance, thanks to the actions of a group of pro-President Trump protesters who chose to break into the U.S. Capitol, loot it, call for the deaths of both the sitting Vice President Mike Pence and the Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, and kill Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick.

Their attempt to overthrow a free and fair election — the election managers of all 50 states (who are a mix of Democrats and Republicans) have found no evidence of fraud — has made it abundantly clear that there is a faction of Americans and elected officials who only trust an election when their side wins.

While we shouldn’t have to point this out, we will: That isn’t what democracy is. These actions are abhorrent.

Remaining silent is the equivalent of condoning the actions of a minority that believes violence and destruction have a place in America.

This is a question we never thought we’d need to ask our fellow elected officials to publicly answer, because we mistakenly thought the answer was obvious: Are you for the democratic process or are you for insurrection?

We support democracy and call on all of the City of Oneonta, Otsego County, and our state representatives to make their positions clear.

Clark Oliver, Dist. 11
Adrienne Martini, Dist. 12
Danny Lapin, Dist. 13
Jill Basile, Dist.14
Otsego County Board
of Representatives

Luke Murphy, 1st Ward
Mark Davies, 2nd Ward
David Rissberger, 3rd Ward
John Rafter, 7th Ward
Mark Drnek, 8th Ward
Oneonta Common Council

City Clerk Nancy Powell Retires; Deputy Clerk Steps Into Role

City Clerk Nancy Powell Retires;

Deputy Clerk Steps Into Position

Nancy Powell

ONEONTA – After five years, City Clerk Nancy Powell has announced her retirement, with deputy clerk Kerriann Harrington expected to be appointed by vote during the Common Council meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 1.

“Nancy has  a long history with the City of Oneonta,” said Mayor Gary Herzig. “She started as Oneonta’s first female firefighter, and has committed to serving the people of the city. We appreciate all she’s done and wish her all the best.”

City Will Hear Public Comment On Mask Law

Public Hearing Tonight

On City Mask Ordinance

ONEONTA – A public hearing on the city’s new mask law will be heard as part of tonight’s Common Council meeting at 7 p.m. over Zoom.

The ordinance, which codifies the state’s public health law, would require masks to be worn whenever social distancing can not be maintained, including during large gatherings in private homes. It passed Common Council 5-2, with one abstention.

Residency Requirement, Budget Powers Debated For City Administrator

Residency Requirement, Budget

Debated For  City Administrator

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to

ONEONTA – Residency and the budget process were two of the strongly-debated topics as Common Council continues refining the City Manager role to a City Administrator.

“We’ve had so many issues with the last three city managers finding a place to stay, as well as issues with our housing stock, that we should allow the City Manager to live outside the city,” said Council member Dave Rissberger, Third Ward.

Common Council Moves To Change City ‘Manager’ To ‘Administrator’

Common Council Moves To Change

City ‘Manager’ To ‘Administrator’

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to

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.

Council Tables Motion To Accept $5K From Bombers’ Sale

Councilman Carson: ‘Better To Hold Fast’

Motion Tabled To Accept

$5K From Bombers’ Sale

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to

ONEONTA – In a 5-3 vote, Common Council this evening tabled the motion to release the city’s $50,000 mortgage on the Bombers’ Burrito Bar property for just $5,000 to the state Business Development Corp., citing hopes that a local buyer might help them negotiate a better price.

“There has been local interest,” said Len Carson, Fifth Ward, who made the motion to table the vote. “It is in our best interest to hold our position and let negotiation happen between them, rather than settle.”

Council Approves Art Installation On Westcott Fence

Common Council OKs

Black Lives Matter Art

On Westcott Lot Fence

ONEONTA – Elizabeth Patterson, an Oneonta native and resident of Germantown, has received approval from Oneonta Common Council to hang a display supporting the Black Lives Matter movement on the fence above the Westcott Lot.

“The Westcott Lot is a perfect canvas,” said Patterson, owner of Ailish Floral, Germantown. “I want it to be visible to traffic and pedestrians.”

Her piece, which will include photos of black men and women killed by police, will also incorporate flowers and greenery.

Ruth Allen’s Passing Announced At City Council

Ruth Allen’s Passing

Announced To Council

Ruth Allen

ONEONTA – Ruth Allen, 80, a frequent fixture of Oneonta civic life and community boards, died this morning, Common Council Member John Rafter, Seventh Ward, announced this evening during the Common Council meeting.

She served on the Huntington Library Board and chaired the city’s Housing Task Force under Mayor Dick Miller, and most recently, she was a member of the Survive, Then Thrive task force.

With 3 COVID Cases In City, Mayor Reaffirms Need For Caution
Murphy’s Anti-Racism Resolution Approved

With 3 COVID Cases In Oneonta,

Mayor Reaffirms Need For Caution

Common Council Member Luke Murphy, First Ward, second from right, reads his first resolution, decrying racism and injustice for all people in the City of Oneonta, as part of tonight’s meeting.

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to

ONEONTA – With three new COVID-19 cases confirmed in the City of Oneonta, Mayor Gary Herzig implored business owners and citizens to continue wearing masks, social distancing and washing hands.

“We’ve had six weeks without any cases, so to have three new ones is a significant wake-up call,” he said during tonight’s Common Council meeting. “People are telling me that they see that things have lapsed, people aren’t wearing masks in stores or on the streets. But the risk is still real.”

Additionally, the Mohawk Valley cases on the whole were also continuing to rise, putting the region at risk for being put back on PAUSE.

Murphy’s First Resolution: No Place For Racism Here


Murphy’s First Resolution:

No Place For Racism Here

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to

Luke Murphy

ONEONTA – Freshman Common Council member Luke Murphy will submit his first resolution at Tuesday’s meeting, reaffirming the City of Oneonta will continue working for equality and inclusion.

The resolution seeks to “ensure that all its citizens receive equal treatment under the law, supports actions that ensure equity in the way our community is policed, and furthermore renounces all acts of racism committed within its borders, by law enforcement and citizens alike.”

Common Council Could Resume in Chambers By July

Common Council Could

Resume in Chambers By July

Mayor Herzig

ONEONTA – Oneonta Common Council could resume holding meetings in person by July,  Katie Böttger, personnel director, told the council during their remote meeting earlier this evening.

“It’s up to all of you,” she said. “But (the state) advises working remotely through the end of June.”

Common Council has been meeting on Zoom and streaming the meetings live on the city’s YouTube channel.

Mark Davies Appointed As SUNY-O Dean

Council Member Davies

Appointed As SUNY Dean


ONEONTA – Common Council member Dr. Mark R. Davies, Second Ward, has been appointed Dean of the School of Education, Human Ecology and Sports Studies at SUNY Oneonta.

A former Hartwick College professor of education, Davies will oversee all academic programs in dietetics, elementary and adolescence education, exercise science, family and consumer sciences, fashion and textiles, food service and restaurant administration, human development and family studies, human ecology and sport management. He begins his appointment on July 1.

Carson: County Board Should Ask State To Open Car Dealerships

Reopen Auto Dealers,

Carson To Ask County

Len Carson

ONEONTA – Citing the $117 million that car dealerships put into the local economy, Common Council member Len Carson, Fifth Ward, is asking the county Board of Representatives to restart car sales in Otsego County.

A former county board member himself, Carson told Common Council this evening he has sent a letter asking his former colleagues to  petition Governor Cuomo to allow Otsego County to re-open car dealerships.

City Could Face $1.6M Loss In Sales Tax
Common Council To Hear Treasurer’s Report

City Hall Could Face

$1.6M Loss In Sales Tax

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to

Virginia Lee

ONEONTA –  The bad news: Oneonta could face as much as a $1.9 million shortfall in sales tax, according to city Finance Director Virginia Lee.

“I’ve outlined a mild, medium and severe – one, two and three – scenarios for loss of sales tax,” she said. “Mild would be $478,000. Medium would be $861,000, and severe scenarios could range from $1.1 to $1.9 million.”

Sales tax makes up 30 percent of the city’s revenues. But with the colleges shut down, Cooperstown Dreams Park closed and the Baseball Hall of Fame Induction moved to 2021, the city is beginning to look at how these losses might affect their budget planning this fall.

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