Ogdensburg council votes down directing city manager to create budget plan to reduce tax rate
Tuesday, February 11, 2020 - 9:22 am

BY JIMMY LAWTON
North Country This Week

OGDENSBURG -- Ogdensburg City Council voted against directing the city manager to create budget plan that would reduce the tax rate by 5%.

Voting for the measure were Deputy Mayor John Rishe and councilors Bill Dillabough and Steven Fisher.

The resolution would have required the city manager to come up with a plan to cut $285,000 from the city budget in 2021.

Deputy Mayor Dan Skamperle was critical of the plan saying that responsibility to make such reductions should be on the backs of council, not the city manager. Skamperle went as far as to accuse Rishe of giving the city manager an impossible task in order to create grounds to remove her.

Skamperle said he'd like to see the budget reduced and told Rishe that if he could show him where the city could reasonably make such a cut, he'd vote for it.

Rishe explained that the city manager form of government allows the council to direct the administrator to present a budget. He noted that Purdy is a full-time professional capable of presenting options for the city, which council would then vote on. He said the city manager has the time and knowledge to present the best option for achieving the goal.

Councilor Nichole Kennedy said she believed the goal was unrealistic. She said the city struggled last year to fund the city library and noted that a $285,000 cut would be equal to removing the library budget entirely.

Mayor Jeff Skelly said he thought the five-percent reduction was realistic but noted it would be a hard road. He pointed to the city's proposal to cut its dispatchers and shifting that burden to the county.

He said that would be the end of four jobs, something he said would not be easy.

Skelly said he'd like to see the plans for a 5% cut come from the council working with the city manager.

Councilor Fisher said he thought having the goal set was a good idea to let people know that the city was serious about giving taxpayers a break, a sentiment echoed by councilor Dillabough.

In the end the plan to set a goal to reduce taxes failed 4-3.