Ogdensburg's potential status change study expected to take one year, public would have final say
BY JIMMY LAWTON
North Country This Week
OGDENSBURG – The idea of studying the potential benefits of changing the city’s status to that of a village or town has raised concerns among the public, but City Manager Sarah Purdy said this would be a slow and careful process moving forward.
She said at this point the idea has been floated and she will be looking into funding for a study to identify the potential benefits.Councilor Jennifer Stevenson said she is concerned by many rumors about it and is hoping that a list of potential pros and cons and options can be shared in order to quell misinformation that is circulating. She said people seem to be scared about losing police, firefighters or other services provided by the city.
Purdy said she is working to establish a rough list of possible benefits and detriments, but noted options are so varied that it will be hard to create anything with solid answers. Purdy said the study itself would best answer the questions from the council and the public, but noted that the process would likely take two years.
She said towns, village and cities all have different regulations and there are a lot of moving parts in changing the city’s status. She said a status change would affect the city school district, the county and potentially neighboring townships that would also need to be included in the discussion.
She said council would need to secure funding for a study, form a steering committee, hire consultants to perform the study and then share the results with the public. She said she’d like to see the study consider whether the city would benefit most from maintaining its status as a city, becoming a town, or becoming a village.
Once a study is completed the city could then decide whether or not to bring up a city status change as a public referendum, which would allow citizens to make the decision. She also pointed out that any citizen could bring up a referendum by collecting just 25 signatures, but said she’s hopeful that won’t be the case.
Purdy said at this time the city isn’t pushing to become a village or a town, but is simply looking to see if there are any benefits in doing so as it nears its constitutional tax limit. She said in a recent interview the city needs to explore all options that will allow citizens of Ogdensburg to continue to receive the services they want at a price that is sustainable. The exploration into a status change is just one possibility.