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August 21, 2013

Council reviews reports without several members

By Denise Richardson Staff Writer
The Daily Star

---- — Oneonta police patrols will work 12-hour shifts on a trial basis, the police chief told the Common Council on Tuesday night.

Reports by the police chief, fire chief and city manager were presented at the meeting in City Hall.

But the council lacked a quorum, and a meeting has been set for 4 p.m. Friday to take action on items on Tuesday night’s agenda that required council approval.

Among items to be considered was a street-closing request for a parade Tuesday commemorating Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Dream Speech” and the civil rights march in Washington, D.C.

City Manager Michael Long said after Tuesday night’s meeting that he expects the application will be approved at Friday’s meeting.

Council members present Tuesday night were Larry Malone of the Second Ward, Madolyn Palmer of the Fifth Ward, Russ Southard of the Sixth Ward and Bob Brzozowski of the Seventh Ward. Absent were Maureen Hennessy of the First Ward, David Rissberger of the Third Ward, Michael Lynch of the Fourth Ward and Chip Holmes of the Eighth Ward.

Council members serve on multiple committees as part of conducting the city’s work, Mayor Dick Miller said, and the unusual lack of a quorum Tuesday night shouldn’t reflect negatively on members’ commitment.

“Council members take vacations, too,” Miller said.

In reporting on police department business, Chief Dennis Nayor said a change to a 12-hour shift, which will start Sept. 12, was approved by a majority of the patrol officers’ union.

The change came out of the work of the task force that is reviewing department staffing and other issues, Nayor said. The three-month shift redesign will be evaluated based on effectiveness of coverage and the impact on overtime and morale, he said.

Patrol officers currently work eight-hour shifts five days a week, Nayor said, and the redesigned shifts would alternate sets of days on and off and yield an extra day off. Scheduling details are being worked out, he said.

In other reports Tuesday night:

• Nayor said his department held its annual meeting with bar owners Aug. 12 and told them they would be legally and morally responsible for actions of their patrons. No bars will be targeted or given preferential treatment in regard to dealing with any college student problems, he said.

• Fire Chief Patrick Pidgeon reported on recent department responses, including flooding in the city last month and problems from a power surge.

• Long said a budget workshop for department heads recently was held as required by the City Charter. The message from the meeting was that a $1.6 million budget shortfall exists, based on the five-year budget projections set by the Finance Committee, he said.