Ogdensburg’s proposed budget calls for tax, job cuts

Published: Nov. 1, 2021 at 5:02 PM EDT
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OGDENSBURG, New York (WWNY) - A cut in taxes and a cut in the number of jobs. That’s the story of the proposed Ogdensburg city budget released Monday.

Its unveiling comes the evening before voters cast ballots for three council seats.

The Skelly Administration wants another property tax cut, its second since taking office in 2020. The spending plan calls for a tax cut of more than 10 percent for property owners.

“We need tax cuts for one reason: to give our citizens a break. Taxes are too high. The combined taxes are exceptionally high,” said Mike Skelly, Ogdensburg mayor.

But it comes with a cost. Under the proposed budget, 7 jobs in the police department and 3 more in the fire department would be cut.

“That magnitude is shocking for public safety to be cut that much,” said Dan Skamperle, Ogdensburg city councilor.

Skamperle believes that existing cuts to the fire department have led to fires doing more damage to properties. Past cuts in both departments have sparked protests.

“They keep attacking us and attacking us and the fact is, these things are done. They’re not going to be undone,” said Skelly

City officials are stressing there will be no layoffs. They say positions to be eliminated are all vacant ones. There will also be two jobs cut in other departments. They are also currently vacant.

There are unknowns in this budget. The biggest one is sales tax collections in the city.

The city has already pre-empted its share of the 3 percent sales tax from the county. But, there’s still 1 percent it has not been able to pre-empt. It’s estimated that could cost the city as much as $1.3 million.

“Who doesn’t want a tax cut? But here is the problem. If you have no idea what you will get from revenue from sales tax … I don’t see how you can justify right now having a tax decrease on the property tax side,” said Skamperle.

The more than 10 percent reduction next year means property taxes would have been cut 20 percent since Skelly took office. The new rate would be $15.88 per $1,000 dollars in assessed value.

That means someone with a home assessed at $100,000 would pay about $199 less in taxes.

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