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March 28, 2014

Long to step down as city manager

By Denise Richardson Staff Writer
The Daily Star

---- — Michael H. Long, Oneonta city manager for 18 months, will retire this spring or summer, Mayor Dick Miller said Thursday.

Miller issued a statement after inquiries by The Daily Star after a source at City Hall said that Long’s standing with the Common Council was in question and that his job was in jeopardy.

Several council members refused Thursday to comment on Long’s status with the council, saying the matter was a confidential personnel issue.

However, Long’s role and a possible re-organization have been under discussion, although no decisions had been made as of early Thursday, they said.

Miller said he and Long are reviewing retirement plans, including a continuing consulting relationship with the city related to planning and grant seeking. Miller said in the statement that he and Long would have no further comments until the Common Council on Tuesday night.

Miller said a search will start immediately for another city manager as there is no doubt about the position being part of city government.

Long is Oneonta’s first city manager. The position was created in a revision of the city charter approved by voters in 2011. The city manager was to take over day-to-day operations of running the city, which would allow the mayor and council members to focus on policy.

On Oct. 1, 2012, Long, then 56, started as city manager at a $115,000 salary. His performance was reviewed in December 2013, and the mayor said afterwards that his salary remained the same and that there were no changes in the conditions of his employment.

On Thursday morning, Madolyn Palmer, council member from the Fifth Ward, said the council had been discussing Long’s role and a possible re-organization, but no decisions had been made.

As chief executive officer and chief administrative officer of the city, the city manager is responsible for all city affairs, including daily operations, fiscal management, supervision of employees, appointment of department heads and coordination and delivery of services, among other duties.

The city manager serves at the pleasure of the Common Council. Under the charter, the council may suspend the city manager by enactment of a resolution approved by the majority of the Common Council which shall set forth the reasons for suspension and proposed removal.

David Rissberger, council member from the Third Ward, said Long has done a “fantastic job” with grant applications and city projects, which was echoed by other council members.

Long’s skills and experience helped the city of Oneonta secure state funding for local projects, including landscaping and parks improvements. In August, state officials announced that nine projects in Otsego County, mostly in the town and city of Oneonta, won $1.9 million in state funding.

In 2013, Long requested and received informal reviews in April and September, and at the time of his one-year anniversary Miller said Long was “doing fine” and the city was on-track with a city manager handling daily operations.

In December 2012, the Common Council outlined by resolution specific goals for 2013. Those goals included developing a plan to eliminate the structural deficit; a study of departments and functions; successful Civil Service Employees Association negotiations; establishing a development plan for the city; conducting a rigorous evaluation process for department heads; and developing a beautification plan for city entrances.

On March 19, 2013, Long gave a State of the City address to the Common Council, as required annually by the charter, but he hasn’t presented a report yet this year.

Before joining Oneonta City Hall, Long was city administrator for Poughkeepsie, a position he held since 2008. He previously worked for the Cayuga County Planning Board and the city of Auburn.

Long holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in landscape architecture from the State University College of Environmental Science at Syracuse and a Master’s of Arts in Public Administration from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University.