OGDENSBURG, N.Y. (WWNY) - Is Ogdensburg in a “high risk zone?” The State Comptroller says so.
That’s because the taxes there are so high. So high, in fact, they can barely be raised any more under the state Constitution.
“We are going to have a crisis," said Ogdensburg City Manager Stephen Jellie. “We are going to have some kind of emergency that requires us to raise funds in the city. And we don’t have the ability to adapt to that.”
Ogdensburg only has a small cushion to raise taxes, and the city doesn’t want to do that.
Instead, Mayor Mike Skelly’s administration has proposed a 6.25% tax cut in its proposed 2021 budget.
“This is about getting our finances in order and returning our city to some level of fiscal stability," said Jellie.
That tax cut would largely be achieved by cutting ten firefighter jobs, more than one-third of the department.
The firefighter’s union said Jellie is using the Comptrollers' letter to justify those cuts.
“It’s a dangerous proposition. Mr. Jellie has downplayed the danger of it. … It’s really just trying to get back at us as retribution for not being able to cut us earlier in the year," said Ogdensburg Firefighters Local 1799 President Jason Bouchard.
Jellie pointed out the city has already cut jobs in other departments, including police.
“The fire department continues to assert this is an attack on them, that this is an attack on public safety, Jellie said." It isn’t any sort of that."
The 6.25% tax cut envisioned in Jellie’s proposed budget is not the only one councilors are talking about. On Monday, Jellie was asked to figure out the impact of even bigger tax cuts.
The budget process still has a ways to go.
There are special budget meetings coming up, and a public hearing needs to be held before the budget can be passed.