State awards Ogdensburg $1.5M for fire department cuts

Published: Nov. 19, 2021 at 4:29 PM EST
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OGDENSBURG, New York (WWNY) - The city of Ogdensburg has made deep cuts in its fire department. To help with that, the state has awarded the city $1.5 million.

The money comes from the state’s Financial Restructuring Board for Local Governments

“What it means is we’re being recognized for a very difficult job and a great accomplishment,” said Mike Skelly, Ogdensburg mayor.

The board voted to give the city two grants. A $550,000 grant will reimburse the city for retirement incentives paid out to eight firefighters. The other will provide $950,000 to buy a combined ladder/pumper for the fire department to replace another truck.

“I think the state has recognized that Ogdensburg is moving forward. We’ve become more efficient,” said Stephen Jellie, Ogdensburg city manager.

The retirements allowed the city to cut staffing in the department to 20 firefighters. That sparked protests. But the cuts stayed in place. Jellie said the new truck will allow the smaller crews to better fight fires.

“This new apparatus will allow us to carry all the critical features of a pumper apparatus, first response equipment, and the aerial rescue capability that we have to use multiple vehicles for now,” he said.

Implementing fire department efficiencies were a key recommendation of a financial restructuring board report delivered to the city in June 2019. The city had asked for it because it was in fiscal distress.

City officials say they intend to implement still more of the recommendations in the report. And some of the biggest ones you’ll see coming are in police dispatch.

Sometime next year the telephone number for calling Ogdensburg police dispatch will be eliminated. Police cars already urge people to call 911, which connects them to the county dispatch center. The city has asked the county to take over all police dispatch for the city.

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