Ogdensburg forecasts tax, sewer rate hikes

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OGDENSBURG — City Council on Monday night voted unanimously to pass a resolution opposing any change in sales tax apportionment from St. Lawrence County to local municipalities.

At stake is 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 one 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.

The agreement is set to expire in November and negotiations are underway to determine its future.

Councilor Daniel E. Skamperle said that there isn’t a need for an agreement between the county and the city, and that if the county wants to keep the money, it can.

“I would suspect that St. Lawrence County is trying to pit some of the towns and villages against Ogdensburg and things like that,” Mr. Skamperle said. “Of course, they’re little shyster games played by these politicians.”

City Manager Sarah Purdy said that there have been two negotiation meetings with a committee from the county and she was hoping to meet again soon.

“It was my understanding that there was going to be a Finance Committee meeting of the county Legislature earlier this evening where this was going to be discussed,” she said. “I now understand that the topic was pulled.”

Ms. Purdy said it was her intention to wait until after that meeting and the Monday night meeting of City Council before scheduling another negotiation.

“This is very unnecessary,” Mayor Jeffery M. Skelly said. “The county is in good financial status. It is very unnecessary to even consider taking this money from Ogdensburg and other towns. And, they are not going to get it. We are going to fight this hard and they aren’t going to get it.”

Councilor Michael B. Powers said that the problem lies in the state budget where a gap exists to cover Medicaid costs.

“They have been kicking this Medicaid can down the road, the State of New York, the executive and the legislature,” Mr. Powers said. “And now we’re left to pick up the pieces. It’s big government operating at its best.”

Ogdensburg doesn’t get much from the county, Mr. Skelly said, citing the lack of county roads and bridges in the city.

“They’ve got a good gig. Do you see the Sheriff patrolling our streets?” he said.

“I think it is very unfair to the new mayor and new councilors who ran on a platform that included cutting taxes, to have the county turn around and say, ‘Here you go, we’re going to cut your revenue,” Ms. Purdy said. “You can’t possibly succeed if the county does that.”

Copies of the resolution are to be given to the St. Lawrence County Legislature, the St. Lawrence County Association of Mayors, the St. Lawrence County Association of Town Supervisors, State Sen. Patricia Ritchie, State Sen. Elizabeth Little, State Sen. Joseph Griffo, State Assemblyman Mark Walczyk and State Assemblyman Billy Jones.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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