COOPERSTOWN _ The Otsego County Board of Representatives unanimously approved an arrangement Wednesday to provide economic development services to the city of Oneonta.
The intermunicipal agreement, approved by Oneonta's Common Council on April 21, calls for the city to pay the county $45,000 a year for the services. The contract is slated to commence June 1.
By terms of another resolution passed by the county board Wednesday, the county will contract with the Oneonta-based consulting firm, 55 Maple Street LLC, ``to provide services and expertise as it relates to the attraction of new businesses and investment to downtown Oneonta and to allow for the fulfilling of these development services.''
Former Hartwick College President Richard Miller and his wife, Andi, operate this firm, which will be paid $25,000 a year from June 1 through Dec. 31, 2011.
According to the resolution, the money to pay 55 Maple Street will come from the $45,000 the city pays the county annually.
The sole "nay" vote on the second resolution was cast by Rep. Donald Lindberg, R-Worcester, who later said he didn't believe the city could afford to pay the bill without raising taxes.
Miller, 66, who was at Wednesday's meeting, said ``our objective is to make Oneonta a shopping destination.''
With two colleges within its borders, downtown Oneonta is ``a natural shopping district,'' he said.
One possible wrinkle in the arrangement is that Miller is considering a run for mayor of Oneonta. If elected, he could not serve simultaneously as consultant and mayor, according to Carolyn Lewis, the county's economic developer.
``He could continue to work for us while running for office, but not if he were elected,'' she said.
If Miller, an independent voter, seemed likely to win the election, he and the county would work to select another consultant, she said.
Miller said Wednesday that he will announce his decision Saturday.
If he runs and is elected, ``I would change hats and continue initiatives from the mayor's office,'' he told representatives.
The idea of county involvement in improving Oneonta's downtown came from a Common Council workshop meeting last summer on the future of the downtown developer position, which was vacated by Jeff House on May 31, 2008.
House has been hired by the city as a full-time housing rehabilitation specialist.