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Local News

November 7, 2013

New county board faces consider manager

COOPERSTOWN — The idea of hiring a manager to oversee the day-to-day operations of Otsego County — an entity with an annual budget of nearly $130 million — has been kicked around for years.

But the proposal has never gained traction with the majority of the 14-member Board of Representatives, with opponents saying it would add another layer of government bureaucracy that would have to be funded by taxpayers.

But some county officials are hoping the idea gets a fresh look following Tuesday’s elections, which ended with the apparent election — final totals have not been officially certified — of Republican businessman Rick Hulse Jr. of Cooperstown.

During the campaign season, Hulse, who finished election night holding a 33-vote lead over incumbent Rep. John Kosmer, D-Fly Creek, repeatedly said he wanted to bring effective management practices to county government. He also indicated he would be open to the county manager idea if funding for it come from existing operations.

“Where but here would you find a $130 million-a-year business that is being run by a committee of 14 part-time individuals?” asked Democratic County Elections Commissioner Hank Nicols.

Rep. Rich Murphy, D-town of Oneonta, the chairman of the Administration Committee, which serves as a sort of mothership for all committees, recalled one recent meeting where there was an extended discussion by county representatives about envelopes.

“We’re just killing ourselves with minutia,” said Murphy, who did not seek re-election and will leave the board at year’s end. Another meeting, he said, was bogged down with a lengthy discussion about cell phone usage by employees at a county department. Such topics, he said, fall “right in the wheelhouse of a county manager.”

While the board will have several new faces come January, veteran Rep. James Powers, R-Butternuts, said he doubted that the board would authorize the hiring of a county manager.

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