Petition challenges change to Ogdensburg’s city charter

WWNY Petition challenges change to Ogdensburg’s city charter

WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - Some citizens want a voter referendum on the Ogdenburg City Council’s vote that amended the city charter. The city administration says it’s not allowed under state law.

Two Ogdensburg residents who helped revise the city charter three years ago say it’s now time to defend it.

“A lot of citizens don’t like the divide of the city and where it’s headed,” said Scott McRoberts, former member Ogdensburg charter revision committee.

McRoberts and former councilman Doug Loffler have drawn up a petition. It calls for a voter referendum on a 4-to-3 council vote that amended the city charter.

The amendment gave the council the power to hire and fire department heads.

“They want more power in their own hands so they can handpick basically anyone that comes into the city,” said McRoberts.

Before that vote, the charter gave the city manager power to hire and fire. Mayor Mike Skelly says that’s still the city manager’s job, but now the council gets to vote on it.

“Should something get out of hand, we have that tool to correct it,” said Skelly.

The charter amendment was passed on a 4-3 vote in August. Skelly and his three council allies voted for it. As to the voter referendum, Skelly says it won’t happen.

“According to our attorney, it’s not allowed, a referendum. It it were, I would welcome it,” he said.

Odgensburg’s city attorney explained why in an opinion. McRoberts and Loffler disagree. They say it just all seems like more of the same.

“It’s well known they like the 4-3 motto that mayor Skelly puts out there quite frequently and they don’t want to see the other side,” said McRoberts.

Whether not this petition passes legal muster, it will have an impact. It’s the first real gauge of the popularity of actions taken by Mayor Skelly and his allies.

In the meantime, the charter amendment is slated to take effect in mid-September.

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