OGDENSBURG, N.Y. (WWNY) - The city of Ogdensburg is looking to double its proposed tax cut, and city council opponents are saying it’s just more “magic math” from the mayor.
Less than a month ago, the Skelly administration unveiled its proposed 2021 budget. It promised a 6.25% tax cut. Now, it says it wants an even bigger one.
Mayor Mike Skelly said, “12.5% evolved because of the letter from the State Comptroller. We’re at the risk of losing state aid.”
That letter said Ogdensburg is near its constitutional tax limit. If the city goes over, it could lose state aid.
But cutting taxes has its risks, too. Even a 6.25% cut would require cutting ten fire department jobs.
“The only savings they suggested they could pilfer from was the fire department,” City Councilman Michael Powers said. “What? Are they going to eradicate the fire department?”
Skelly said no further cuts may be needed to get to a 12.5% tax cut. City Manager Stephen Jellie wasn’t as sure.
“We’ve got to look at every program, scrutinize every position, look at every vacant position we have, and just make the hard decisions to how we get there,” Jellie said.
Councilman Daniel Skamperle said a 12.5% tax cut would mean more service cuts. He suspects he knows where.
“It seems like that’s their end-game plan. Just plain cut the fire department, bye-bye,” Skamperle said.
There’s another wrinkle to the budget debate, and that’s a recent audit that writes down the city’s fund balance. That means the city would have less to draw on in case of an emergency. The write-down occurred during an audit of the 2019 books.