Concerns growing after Oneida appoints new acting city manager

CITY OF ONEIDA, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Neighbors in the City of Oneida are up in arms over the council’s vote to appoint a new acting city manager.

“People told them exactly what they wanted and what they felt was the right thing and multiple people, and that they just completely ignored it, and that is really concerning,” said Abbey Woodcock, a longtime resident of Oneida and owner of Callee1945 Cheese Shop on Main Street.

Especially after November’s referendum gained enough votes, adopting the new position of city manager with qualifications. But many people believe the vote was taken away, including the city’s Mayor Rick Rossi.

“It was kind of a slap in the face for the council to try and take these qualifications away only three months after they were put in place,” said Rossi.

This comes after some members of the council voted to appoint Director of Code Enforcement Robert Burnett as the city’s new acting manager during Tuesday’s common council meeting. Many say Burnett does not meet the qualifications they voted on.

“I don’t think he’s the right fit for this position because this position was voted on to be somebody that is experienced, knows how to manage a city, and can do some of those day-to-day things that we have never had,” said Woodcock.

With the new way the charter is written, there’s no time limit on how long the acting manager can stay in their position, leaving many questioning the council on whether they will find a qualified replacement.

“I will continue to fight and do what I believe is best for the city, and going forward, I hope we can put some of this stuff behind us and find somebody that’s going to continue to push us forward,” said Rossi.

In the meantime, Council Member Steve Laureti told NewsChannel 9 in a statement they will continue to search for a full-time city manager.

“I will say what happened at the meeting last night was reprehensible as the mayor lost total control; egging the crowd on, arguing with the city attorney and trying to cut me off when I was speaking.

There was more decorum when Jesus was brought before Pontus Pilate than there was at that meeting last night.”

Jim Szczerba, Council Member Ward 1

NewsChannel 9 reached out to Burnett for comment. We have not heard back.

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