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January 15, 2011

Reporter's Notebook: Mayor likes to get down to business

Daily Star

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The second annual mayor's retreat at City Hall went much like most Common Council meetings under Mayor Dick Miller: It was brisk and to the point.

Billed as a retreat, the only differences between it and a regular Common Council meeting _ besides the length _ was that it was held on a Saturday and there were coffee and doughnuts.

This year's retreat, intended to set the agenda for the coming year, was shorter then the inaugural edition held after Miller took office, lasting less than 3 hours. There was less brainstorming and more discussion on specific subjects, such as improving neighborhoods, the process of conducting meetings, the ongoing zoning code revision, and the need to protect the city's watershed _ a concern brought forth by city Environmental Board Chairman Dave Hutchison. He was one of four community members attending.

Before the meeting, Mayor Dick Miller sent a memo to aldermen saying he would be focusing on several initiatives that do not require substantial Common Council involvement:

"¢City/town consolidation and shared services agreements.

"¢Payment in lieu of taxes and revenue-sharing agreements among other local and government entities.

"¢Assisting in the presentation and adoption of the recommendations of the Charter Commission.

"¢Promoting Oneonta regionally.

The mayor also said there were a number of matters which would require department head involvement and Common Council approval:

"¢Timber harvesting.

"¢The future of the Asa C. Allison Jr. Municipal Building.

"¢The contract for operation of the Oneonta Municipal Airport.

"¢Labor contract negotiations with the police union.

"¢A fuel depot.

"¢The city's Internet presence.

"¢The Oneonta Susquehanna Greenway.

"¢Fees and exemptions for parks and recreation, parking, code inspections, ambulance billing, sidewalk restaurants.

Jo-Ann LaMonica must be pretty pleased with the mayoral proclamation Miller issued at the Jan. 4 Common Council meeting.

While I interviewed the mayor at his desk at City Hall the next day, City Clerk James Koury came into the office twice _ once to drop off a spectacular floral bouquet, and a second time to give the mayor a framed set of photographs sent by LaMonica.

The night before, Miller issued a proclamation urging Oneontans to celebrate the 100th birthday of LaMonica's husband, Diz, on Jan. 9.

The photographs were of the mayor's presentation less than 24 hours earlier.

Jake Palmateer can be reached at 432-1000 or (800) 721-1000, ext. 221, or at