Ogdensburg mayor to vote against library funding; will he influence others?

Updated: Apr. 27, 2021 at 1:10 PM EDT
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OGDENSBURG, N.Y. (WWNY) - Ogdensburg’s mayor says he’ll vote against $225,000 in funding for the library. Will his reason why have an effect?

In three weeks, voters will decide on critical funding for the Ogdensburg Public Library. Now, that vote is being roiled up from city hall. Mayor Mike Skelly is going public.

“I’m going to vote ‘no’ on the referendum for the library,” he said.

Skelly has been critical of the library, but until recently, he has not broached how he would vote on the library referendum May 18.

“We’re caretakers of our city resources...So, I don’t think it’s wrong for me to voice my concerns,” he said.

The library wants school district voters to approve $225,000 in funding. The library says it would help plug budget gaps created by years of city funding cuts.

“We’re asking for those taxes to be collected through the school referendum. So, the tax existed before. It isn’t new. We’re just shifting the collection agency,” said Ann Lesperance, Ogdensburg Public Library board of trustees member.

The library already gets $125,000 due to previous referendums. Still, overall taxpayer support has fallen more than $200,000 in just four years. Library officials say they’re not sure what influence the mayor will have.

“I don’t know,” said Penny Kerfien, Ogdensburg Public Library executive director.

They say they are open to new ideas on improving the library from the mayor or anyone else.

“We take suggestions very seriously. Our friends group looks at the ideas to see if they’re feasible and we go from there,” said Kerfien.

In some ways, this could be the first real test of Mayor Skelly’s clout at the polls. In 2019, he was swept into office in a write-in vote. But a lot has happened since then.

Voting on the library referendum as well as the school budget and school board seats takes place on May 18 from noon to 9 p.m. at the Golden Dome.

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