Ogdensburg lawmaker questions legality of changing city charter

Updated: Aug. 25, 2020 at 5:18 PM EDT
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WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - An Ogdensburg city councillor says he questions if Monday night's vote to make changes to the city's charter is legal.

Council voted 4 to 3 to allow city council, instead of the city manager, to appoint department heads.

Councillor Mike Powers, who voted against the resolution, says based on language in the city charter, the public should have had a chance to vote on the change before it was voted on by council.

Powers says council was told the city attorney approved the resolution, but he still has questions.

"A change of this magnitude that they are looking to be part of the hiring and firing, it would call for a public referendum. I don't see how they can get around it. I don't know where they are getting their advice from," he said.

Lawmakers also voted 4 to 3 to allow a police chief to be hired from outside of Ogdensburg, but once hired the chief would have to move to the city.

Powers says that a current city police officer was offered the job, but turned it down.

We reached out to both Mayor Mike Skelly and Deputy Mayor John Rishe, who voted in favor of both changes but have not heard back.

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