ONEONTA — Oneonta swore in its first city manager at a special meeting of the Common Council on Friday. Michael H. Long, 56, city administrator of Poughkeepsie, will start the $115,000-a-year position by Oct. 1.
The post was created by the city charter that voters approved in November and took affect Jan. 1. The city’s Common Council Human Resource Committee, chaired by Maureen Hennessy, worked with a national recruiter and city personnel director Kathy Wolverton, to narrow the 50 applicants for the post to three finalists. They were interviewed about two weeks ago by a group that included council members, department heads and representatives from the community.
Oneonta Mayor Dick Miller said in a statement: “When we met with Michael, everyone was extremely impressed with his credentials. We moved forward expeditiously. He was a consummate professional and has the perfect background for the job.”
Long will take over the day-to-day operations of running the city, Miller said. This leaves Miller to serve as the head of government for all official and ceremonial purposes, preside over the Common Council, and other duties spelled out in the charter.
Long serves at the pleasure of the council and Miller will be his principal liaison and work with the council to establish performance objectives for the manager.
Long holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree in landscape architecture from the State University of New York College of Environmental Science at Syracuse. He holds a Master’s of Arts in Public Administration from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University.
He has served in his current position since 2008. Before that, he held positions of increasing responsibility in the Cayuga County Planning Board and for the city of Auburn over a 28-year span, according to a city media release.
After he was sworn in, Long thanked the council for its vote of confidence. “You all work well together and focus on what’s best for Oneonta. This is what impressed me most. I’m glad to be here.”
Long said he took the new position because he was ready for a new challenge and noted the community spirit that he said will be helpful in tackling such issues as improving downtown.
“There’s a lot of opportunity here that can be met by setting priorities,” he said. His first step will be orienting himself to the position and spending time with council members and department heads to identify what each sees as important issues. In his first 30 days, he said, he expects to be able to set an action plan.
Long said that he is seeking an apartment in the city and will decide later on long-term living arrangements. The city charter does not require him to live in the city.
He was joined at the meeting by his wife, Diane Long, who is chair and associate professor of the department of occupational therapy at Ithaca College.
Miller said he was confident that Long will help the city achieve savings in operations and will help secure grants. “He will add value well beyond the cost of his position.”