Ogdensburg firefighters union offers to pay for grant writer

Ogdensburg firefighters union offers to pay for grant writer
Published: Feb. 14, 2023 at 5:40 AM EST
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OGDENSBURG, New York (WWNY) - The president of IAFF Local 1799, the union that represents Ogdensburg firefighters, told city councillors Monday night that the union is willing to foot the bill for a grant writer.

It’s something that was discussed at a meeting earlier this year.

A majority of councillors voted against spending $10,000 dollars on a grant writer at that meeting.

Those in favor of the proposal said an outside grant writer could give the city a better chance of securing SAFER grants, which the city has applied for in the past, but have not been awarded.

SAFER grants pay for new firefighters for their first three years on the job.

The fire department has insisted that hiring more firefighters will save money by cutting overtime costs.

Local 1799 president Jason Bouchard says the union is willing to pay for the grant writer.

“If you guys are serious about allowing this grant writer to help us, and according to Councillor Fischer, the only, I guess, drawback to it, the only prohibition was the cost,” Bouchard said. “We are willing to foot that if council is willing to think about the assurances on our end and what it can do to save the city money.”

Councillor Mike Powers commended the union’s generosity but said it’s a discussion to be had between union reps and the interim city manager.

Meanwhile, St. Lawrence County Undersheriff Sean O’Brien briefly addressed the council.

He said both he and Sheriff Brooks Bigwarfe fully support Ogdensburg police and asked that the city put available resources towards city police when possible.

O’Brien said city police have better response times in the city and are vital in helping with the county’s drug task force.

It comes as the city has made cuts to staffing in order to balance its budget.

Mayor Mike Skelly brought up the loss of $2 million in sales tax collection when the city began collecting its own sales tax.

“So how do you keep the police and fire and everybody else with $2 million less,” Skelly said. “That’s our problem. If that...”>

“I understand that, sir,” O’Brien said. “I’m not here to debate, those are decisions that you have to make as a council. All I’m here for tonight is to say that we fully support the Ogdensburg Police Department. We need them.”>

“I agree, and we do, too,” Skelly said.

In resolutions last night, councillors voted unanimously to create a task force to drum up support in Albany for a home rule bill that would allow Ogdensburg to tax state-owned properties.

New York owns 30% of the land in the city.

In a 4 to 3 vote, councillors approved contracting with Titan Roofing to replace the roof on city hall.

The contract is not to exceed $396,220.

Councillors also unanimously approved a resolution supporting the War of 1812 Battle of Ogdensburg weekend.

It will include a re-enactment on city streets next weekend.