OGDENSBURG — City Council voted, with no discussion, to not remove the position of police chief from the hiring freeze instituted on Jan. 6.
Former Police Chief Andrew Kennedy retired on May 30, and the position has been vacant since then.
The resolution states that the position is required in Ogdensburg according to New York State Civil Service Law and that there is a civil service list of eligible candidates available based on a March 2, 2019, exam.
Councilors Nichole L. Kennedy, Michael B. Powers and Daniel E. Skamperle voted in favor of the resolution while Mayor Jeffery M. Skelly, Deputy Mayor John A. Rishe and councilors Steven M. Fisher and William B. Dillabough voted against.
On Tuesday, Mr. Skelly said his objection was the method in which a new police chief would be chosen.
In Article III of the City Charter, C-8 Duties of Council, it states, “Appointments and removal. Neither the City Council nor any of its members, including the Mayor, shall in any manner dictate the appointment or removal of any City administrative officers or employees whom the City Manager or any of his subordinates are empowered to appoint, but the City Council may express its views and fully and freely discuss with the City Manager anything pertaining to appointment and removal of such officers and employees.”
Typically a city manager, in this case, Assistant City Manager Andrea Smith, would choose a department head from a Civil Service list of qualified applicants for the City Council to approve.
“We need a list,” Mr. Skelly said. “We haven’t been provided a list with any names.”
He said he wanted to participate in interviewing candidates.
“I want to meet them all,” Mr. Skelly said.
He also questioned Ms. Smith’s status with the board.
“She’s assistant, it’s very temporary,” he said. “And, she is moving to Morristown. She is not going to be a resident.”
A resolution to require city residency for police and fire chiefs was considered later in the meeting, but tabled to have its legality checked.
“I would feel more comfortable if they (police and fire chiefs) were living in the city,” Mr. Skelly said.
Mr. Skelly said the next police chief should be considering taxpayers and not just looking to hire more police officers.
“Citizens are facing crime,” he said. “But they are also facing a high tax burden.”