OGDENSBURG — In a rare unanimous vote, City Council passed a resolution supporting an agreement with the St. Lawrence County Board of Legislators to add a year to the sales tax distribution agreement that is set to run out on Nov. 30.
The vote did not come without some controversy, some shouting and a little bit of colorful language.
The agreement concerns the city’s share of a 1 percent sales tax the county has been collecting and sharing since it was implemented in 2013.
The city receives 6.44 percent of the extra 1 percent, while the remaining towns and villages split 10 percent. The county retains 83.6 percent of the extra 1 percent.
In 2018, that 6.44 percent accounted for more than $900,000.
Legislators have suggested cutting Ogdensburg’s share, with a loss in population among the reasons.
The one-year addition gives the city some breathing room, Deputy Mayor John Rishe said.
“I am very appreciative of the county legislators for this offer. It gives us time to collect some data on sales tax,” he said, although he was barely audible on the Gotomeeting.com app being used for the meeting.
Mr. Rishe went on to say that he had received a draft of the agreement and had forwarded it to the assistant city manager and asked that it be sent to the city attorney for examination. He also said that he had asked the chairman of the County Board of Legislators not to put the agreement on their agenda until after a report had been received from the attorney on the agreement.
This raised the hackles of Councilor Daniel E. Skamperle and Councilor Michael B. Powers.
“Why is Mr. Rishe the go-to here all of the sudden,” Mr. Powers asked. “Now, we’re going back into charterland.”
Mr. Skelly sounded incredulous when he accused Mr. Skamperle and Mr. Powers of offering to give up money to the county during negotiations early in the year.
“You are so full of it,” Mr. Skamperle said. “What has that got to do with this?”
Mr. Rishe asked to be recognized and Mr. Skamperle, who likely couldn’t hear him, interrupted.
“Oh bulls--t, I’m so sick of this crap. You guys. What a bunch of horse crap,” he said. “One violation after another that’s all this is. Call the roll would you so we can vote on this.”
Mr. Powers accused Mr. Skelly of telling half-truths and not being willing to negotiate with the county.
The agreement now needs to go to the St. Lawrence County Legislature for approval.