OGDENSBURG, N.Y. (WWNY) - Ogdensburg’s mayor sharply criticized the leader of the St. Lawrence County legislature Tuesday, after a key vote to extend the sales tax agreement between Ogdensburg and the county was delayed.
The county legislature’s finance committee voted 8-7 to table the extension to the existing agreement.
“We saw poor leadership by Chairman (Joe) Lightfoot to go a whole year of negotiations and table a resolution because he didn’t do the numbers, was despicable,” said Ogdensburg mayor Mike Skelly.
Skelly said the decision made it feel like the county was setting the city up to fail, as the city looks to set up its own sales tax collection formula. The extension would give the city until late 2023 to plan. Without it, Ogdensburg lawmakers have about a year.
“It was irresponsible to table a resolution, to not give Ogdensburg sufficient time to pre-empt, and do it successfully,” Skelly said. (Pre-emption refers to a way in which Ogdensburg could receive its share of sales tax from the state.)
Lightfoot countered Tuesday, saying he’s not trying to make the city fail by delaying the vote., but the county needs to know what the cost will be if the city goes ahead with pre-emption.
“When that happens, the county loses 1.5 percent of whatever is collected in the city of Ogdensburg. That’s not being taken into consideration,” Lightfoot said.
While the Ogdensburg resolution was delayed, legislators did vote to continue allocating the current percentage of sales tax distributed to towns and villages through the end of 2030.
Town and village officials said despite their win, they plan to continue to side with Ogdensburg in the sales tax dispute.
“The towns I can speak for as Chairman of the Town Supervisors Association that we still stand with the city,” said Bill Nelson, former Ogdensburg mayor and current Lisbon town supervisor.
“Ogdensburg needs help. And they need our county legislature to support them for the next few years until they get over this circumstance they’re in right now,” said Ron McDougall, Gouverneur’s mayor.
The resolution to extend the sales tax agreement between the county and Ogdensburg could come up again in January.