OGDENSBURG — It took City Council less than 30 minutes Thursday afternoon to pass a resolution to place City Manager Sarah Purdy on paid administrative leave until the date of her retirement in June. In doing so, councilors revealed that this was something they have been wanting to do since they took office in January.
“I personally felt at the first council meeting on Jan. 6, 2020, the manager should have been let go,” Councilor Steven M. Fisher said. “I have tried to be open minded and fair in the past months and it is more evident that the manager and the majority of council’s directions and wishes are far, far apart.”
Councilor William B. Dillabough agreed.
“I’d like to concur with what Steve had to say, we were going to let her go earlier,” Mr. Dillabough said. “We tried to sit down and get her to work with us. I think she is hurting more than helping so she should be gone.”
Councilor Michael B. Powers said that the resolution offered at the special meeting is flawed.
The resolution offered by Mayor Jeffery M. Skelly said that Ms. Purdy had failed to follow the direction of council in its efforts to reduce the 2020 budget in the face of revenue losses due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“What hasn’t she done,” Mr. Powers asked. “The resolution called for action on May 15. Today is the 14th.”
Mr. Powers said that the employment actions in council’s last resolution — the laying off of four police officers, a housing inspector and positions in the Parks and Recreation Department — could not be done legally in the time allowed, according to Civil Service regulations.
“She’s done what you asked legally,” Mr. Powers said. “I see this simply as a clear retaliatory action and the fact that many city employees have filed complaints regarding some of the recent actions, this resolution doesn’t pass the smell test because much of what was recommended by the council the city manager did implement.”
Mr. Powers asked twice for answers from Mr. Skelly who acknowledged the questions, but did not give an answer or engage with Mr. Powers as he has in recent meetings.
Councilor Daniel E. Skamperle agreed with Mr. Powers.
“I agree this is nothing more than retaliation and I think the public deserves an explanation,” Mr. Skamperle said. “What is it that she hasn’t done by the deadline, which hasn’t even arrived yet?”
The move wasn’t retaliatory, Mr. Fisher said, because the resolution was submitted Monday morning for the Monday night meeting — before Mr. Skelly’s two trips to City Hall that resulted in police calls and complaints to be filed by City Hall employees.
Councilors voted four to three with Mr. Skelly, Mr. Fisher, Mr. Dillabough and Councilor John Rishe voting in favor and Mr. Skamplerle, Mr. Powers and Councilor Nichole L. Kennedy voting against.
Ms. Purdy was placed on administrative leave with full pay and benefits until June 26, which is the date she had previously set for her retirement.