Ogdensburg lawmakers to vote on city manager appointment, charter referendum

Stephen Jellie
Stephen Jellie(WWNY)
Updated: Sep. 25, 2020 at 3:39 PM EDT
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OGDENSBURG, N.Y. (WWNY) - Ogdensburg lawmakers are set to vote next week on 2 key items: making Stephen Jellie the permanent city manager at $120,000 a year, and holding a referendum on changing the city charter.

Jellie was appointed to the position on an interim basis in July.

According to the resolution on the city council agenda, Jellie “has served in this temporary position for over two months and has proven that he is qualified and capable of performing the duties of the position of City Manager.”

The proposed employment agreement between Jellie and the city is neither available on the city’s website nor included in the agenda released to the media.

However, 7 News obtained the agreement, which offers Jellie an annual salary of $120,000 over the next 3 years.

His predecessor, Sarah Purdy, earned $118,000 a year.

When Jellie was named interim city manager, his salary was set at $1,500 a week.

Jellie, who is also serving as acting fire chief, has ruffled feathers among firefighters when he updated protocols for handling emergency calls outside the city.

They also took issue with a memo from Jellie telling firefighters they can’t talk to the media about fire department business without clearance from the city manager.

City council is also set to vote on whether to hold a referendum that would allow city residents to vote on changes to the city charter.

In August, a 4-3 city council majority led by Mayor Mike Skelly voted to change the charter to put the power of hiring department heads in the hands of the council, rather than the city manager.

The same majority also voted to change the charter to require the police chief to live inside the city, but it’s the change to the manager’s job that has drawn the most criticism.

One councilor, Mike Powers, questioned the legality of the vote and community members, led by Scott McRoberts filed a petition to put the council’s actions to a referendum.

Earlier this week, Ogdensburg officials rejected a petition that would have put changes to the city charter on the November ballot.

That’s because, the city’s attorney says, while the charter allows for a referendum, state law -- which overrules the charter -- does not.

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