OGDENSBURG, N.Y. (WWNY) - A budget session, a mediation, and possible retirement incentives are on the table when it comes to the city of Ogdensburg’s battle with local firefighters.
The city and fire union will meet during a City Council budget session on Monday night.
“We have to have something prepared to support our department, because no one else is going to,” said Ogdensburg Professional Firefighters Local 1799 President Jason Bouchard.
Normally, the fire chief would be the key representative at a budget session. But in Ogdensburg, the chief is Stephen Jellie, who is also the city manager. Jellie said he wants to hear from the union.
“I think it’s important that they speak to the mayor and the council. These are important decisions that we’re making that impact our members,” Jellie said.
Ogdensburg’s proposed 2021 budget plans to cut ten firefighter jobs. That has led to a war of words between City Hall and the firefighters’ union. Both sides said they welcome State Senator Patty Ritchie to listen to their concerns.
“She doesn’t like the negative discourse that’s been going on,” Bouchard said. “And we wanted to see if we could sit down and at least discuss it. We’ll bring her up to speed and see what happens.”
The two sides will meet with Ritchie before Monday’s budget session. Ritchie’s office could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
There has also been talk of offering eligible firefighters early retirement incentives. That could reduce the department’s ranks, but it still doesn’t address the issue of staffing clauses in the contract.
The union said the contract requires a minimum of 24 firefighters in total. Jellie said he feels that clause usurps the city’s right to run the department.