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Ogdensburg lawmakers make staff cuts, but not as many as originally planned

Updated: May. 7, 2020 at 7:34 AM EDT
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OGDENSBURG, N.Y. (WWNY) - After a meeting that lasted hours grew heated at times, Ogdensburg city lawmakers voted in favor of slashing jobs to save money.

But lawmakers did scale back the number of positions that will be cut.

Under a resolution passed Wednesday night, no firefighters will be laid off, the city assessor position has been saved, and two positions in the recreation department will not be eliminated -- although those workers will be laid off.

City councilors passed the measure during a special meeting that more than 500 people logged on to watch and express their frustration with the proposed cuts.

No one who spoke was in favor of the cuts. Some residents voiced their concern over whether or not the resolution violates the city charter.

There was a motion to table the issue so the city's lawyer could provide clarity to lawmakers. That idea was shot down four to three.

“We just denied our taxpayers the right to know if what we’re doing is …” councilor Nichole Kennedy started.

“We’re giving the … we’re putting the taxpayers first, finally,” Mayor Mike Skelly said, interrupting.

“And discount other members of council,” councilor Mike Powers said.

The vote to make cuts was four to three, with “no” votes coming from councilors Nichole Kennedy, Dan Skamperle, and Mike Powers.

The cuts include four layoffs in the police department, a 40 percent reduction in police overtime, leaving the city manager position vacant until the end of the 2020 fiscal year, extending the city's hiring freeze for the rest of 2020 and other cuts totaling about $211,000.

Many of the layoffs are set to take effect May 15.

City officials are trying to close a projected $900,000 budget gap caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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