The city of Oneonta will turn to two veteran firefighters to fill the temporary gap left by the retirement of Chief Patrick Pidgeon.
The city's Common Council voted unanimously Tuesday, Feb. 16, to appoint two retired firefighters to temporary leadership positions in the department: retired fire captain J. Michael Mancini will become the acting chief and retired assistant chief Shane Mattice will become the acting assistant chief.
Both appointments are for no longer than six months and begin Wednesday, Feb. 17.
Mancini had been with the city for 25 years before he retired last year. He had been promoted to captain in 2018 and also served as a state fire inspector. He will make $33.65 per hour for a 40-hour per week position.
Mattice's job will fill a position that was unfunded last year because of budget concerns during the start of the coronavirus pandemic. He will work a 20-hour week at a rate of $40 per hour. He worked for the city for 35 years and retired in 2013.
Personnel Director Katie Bottger told the council Mattice's rate is higher than Mancini's because Mattice had worked for the city longer and retired at a higher rate of pay. She said Mancini was aware of Mattice's pay rate and had no issue with it.
Bottger said the assistant position has not been abolished and has been left unfilled only by council choice.
Pidgeon, who announced his retirement last week, had been with the city since 1985 * and has been fire chief since 2010. He was the ninth member of his family to serve in the Oneonta Fire Department.
In a statement to The Daily Star, Oneonta Mayor Gary Herzig lauded the direction the department took under Pidgeon's leadership.
"Under Pat Pidgeon's leadership, the Oneonta Fire Department developed into a highly professional, state of the art agency, providing life saving services for all hazards and emergencies," he said. "The people of the city and town of Oneonta owe him a debt of gratitude for his commitment to their safety."
In other business Tuesday, the council:
• Voted unanimously to accept a $13,000 grant from the Federal Aviation Authority for sanitation and other protective equipment to help fight the coronavirus pandemic.
• Voted unanimously to raise the snow removal parking fine fee from $30 to $100.
• Voted unanimously to amend the fee schedule for city services including lawn mowing, hedge maintenance, sidewalk or debris obstruction removal or sidewalk snow shoveling to $125 minimum fee for the first hour of service, plus $125 an hour in half hour increments for all time past the first hour. The previous fee was "cost plus 50%."
• Voted unanimously to allow Herzig to apply for a $50,000 community development block grant to fund a survey about the future of the city owned Armory at 4 Academy St. The city would have to pay 5% of the cost as a local match.
The meeting was held via Zoom, because of the pandemic, and can be viewed on the city's YouTube channel.
* Story changed at 7:31 a.m. Feb. 18 to correct when Pidgeon joined the fire department.