WEST ONEONTA — Oneonta Town Board members and some residents are looking into government policies, procedures, expenses and other matters to address questions about town-city connections, shared services and future possibilities.
The five task force committees studying the issues gave updates for the second time at the Oneonta Town Board meeting Tuesday night, said Councilman Scott Gravelin, who is chairman of the task force formed this year to study affiliations with the city.
“Merger is not on the table,’’ Gravelin said. “This is a study to see if merger should be on the table.’’
The committees may wrap up their studies by the end of this year, then early next year the task force may meet for the step, Gravelin said. The work got off to a slow start, he said, but the pace is picking up.
In April, Oneonta Mayor Dick Miller addressed the Oneonta Town Board, seeking to form a city-town group to study a merger between the municipalities or other avenues to share more services. The town board responded by forming a task force.
“We felt it would be better looking at it on our own with out being influenced by city opinions,’’ Supervisor Robert Wood said Tuesday.
The task force committees are using three studies to gather information, Wood said. Two studies were done by the Center for Economic and Community Development at the State University College at Oneonta in 1996 and 2010, he said, and the third was by the state Commission on Local Government Efficiency and Competitiveness in 2008.
“Everybody still is just gathering information,’’ Wood said. A referendum, which is necessary for a merger, isn’t on the table, he said, and it’s too early to tell if the task force would consider a referendum on a merger. The studies may identify other ways for the town to save money.
“We feel an obligation to the taxpayers to do things as efficiently as we can,’’ Wood said. Wood said 20 to 25 residents have joined the committees, but he withheld names because some expressed interest in doing the work but not speaking publicly about it.
The committees include residents on both sides of the merger question, Gravelin said.
The council members, committees, assignments and some comments from reports given Tuesday are below:
— William Mirabito: General administration, areview of general government office, procedures and possible ways to provide services reducing duplication of effort.
— David Jones: Public works, review the sharing of resources, equipment and manpower to improve efficiency in highway, water and sewer.
— Gravelin: Public safety, examine the way that fire, police and code services are provided. The committee will be meeting with city police and fire officials, he said.
“There’s a lot of work to do,’’ he said.
— Janet Hurley Quackenbush: Parks, recreation, library and transportation, reviewservices and consider how they could be delivered at a savings. The committee is looking for more residents to participate on this committee, she said.
— Wood: Taxation, fees and economic development, examine the fiscal impact of pre-emption on the tax base and future tax rates and how this would affect economic development.
Wood said Otsego County Treasurer Dan Crowell will meet with the committee in town Hall at 4 p.m. Sept. 27 to present information about sales tax revenues, the town’s share and what would happen if the town became part of the city.
“It’s really complicated,’’ Wood said.