COLONE: Want One Oneonta? City Must Use Assets As Leverage v. Town

LETTER from ALBERT COLONE

Want Single Oneonta?

City Must Use Assets

As Leverage v. Town

To the Editor:

No municipality should extend its services beyond its boundary lines!” That was the opening statement made by Wade Beltramo, general counsel for the New York Conference of Mayors inside the City Council Chambers on March 28, 2017.
The general counsel was invited by the City of Oneonta to give a presentation on municipal annexation.

I bring it up in that the last edition of your newspaper was loaded with extremely positive articles, most surrounding the
commercial promise of expanded downtown market-rate housing. We’d all love to see that!

With all the positive articles, the one which caught my eye, the one which I believe would have the greatest impact on growing the Oneonta economy was the article on extending the City sewer line from the city/town boundary line out to Oneonta Plaza to facilitate a possible move by the Brooks BBQ sauce-bottling plant into that mall. A great idea! To me it was the singular article that would do the most good for Oneonta.

But, recall the words of Counsel Beltramo, “No municipality should extend its services beyond its boundary lines!” So, I would strongly suggest the city agree to extend its sewer line to serve all of the area along Route 7 all the way to the Price Chopper Mall or beyond, conditioned on the town working with affected property owners to secure agreements to be annexed into the city.

The town does not own a sewage treatment system of its own, so if the town is to provide sewer to the Oneonta Plaza and/or points to the east, the town supervisor and the town board have to strike an agreement with the city.

So rather than pontificating through the local media about extended sewer services into the town, something the town can’t do on its own, Town Supervisor Bob Wood and other town leaders should immediately negotiate with Mayor Herzig and city leaders. If sewerage is to be extended into the town, it’s not a town decision, but rather the city’s. Let’s face it, the city has supplied a variety of public services into the town, with little if nothing in return; in the 1950s, city water was extended to the West End, where the city continues to pay taxes to the town of about $70,000 a year ($40,000 in property taxes on the land at the watershed and $30,000 per annum for the water infrastructure into the West End).

In the early 2000s, the city extended its sewer system to the Southside business district to help mitigate its ongoing fresh-water contamination issues; add to that, the city underwrites the largest local share of the costs for a public bus system that extends into the town, as well the city pays $70,000 every year to promote travel to the area where most of the motor inn/restaurant/retail beneficiaries are located in the town.

So, as you can see, the city has had a big heart in assisting the town over the many years; all the while the town got richer at the expense of the city. Not too smart! That trend needs to change, NOW!

Supervisor Wood would do well to see the wisdom in supporting the common good and agree to an arrangement, where the city extends sewer services into the East End and in working hard towards securing properties served to be annexed into the city.

The city might be wise to also agree to extending public safety and others valued services out that way; where perhaps a 20-year prorated property tax structure could be established to fund the service program, making it practical financially for all concerned.

If he hasn’t already done so, Supervisor Wood should immediately meet with Mayor Herzig to put this all important issue on the table. The town can’t do the project without the leadership of the city, so move on with extension of sewer services to the Town’s East End with the provision the affected area be annexed into the city. And while they’re at it, consider the same action on Oneida Street, out through the West End to the multi-acre vacant lot between Routes 7 and 205. The area’s economy would get a very positive jolt in growing city/town commerce. The city needs to start acting on every issue that comes its way, evaluating them all based on what’s best for city coffers and with highest consideration for the taxpayers of the city!
Two Oneonta governments are unsustainable!

ALBERT COLONE
Resident, City of Oneonta


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