OGDENSBURG — The city’s interim city manager has been spending his first three weeks getting a feel for the way the city runs.
“I’ve got a lot of assessing to do,” Stephen P. Jellie said. “This is a city with a lot of potential and a lot of room for growth.”
Mr. Jellie retired from the federal government two years ago after 28 years serving mainly in fire departments and emergency services. His last stop was as an assistance management team leader for FEMA in Denton, Texas.
Mr. Jellie said he sees his job, especially when it comes to emergency services, as providing the City Council with options.
“It’s just a matter of providing the council courses of action,” he said. “What does it look like in a perfect scenario? What does it look like if we are assuming some level of risk? And, what does it look like if you are running a lean organization and only doing the basic functions?”
Mr. Jellie said he thinks it will take as long as 45 days to make a thorough assessment.
“You can’t come to a place like this and in a week or two say ‘I saw this and you only need one firetruck and only need 24 people,’” he said. “This is a unique location in that it is the only city in the state’s largest county by land mass. It’s a location that is not flanked by other cities or large communities that have a lot of paid services.”
One of the first challenges of the job, beyond the assessment, is finding new leaders in both the Police Department and the Fire Department where both chiefs retired earlier this year.
Mr. Jellie is currently the acting fire chief. It’s a cost saving measure and a way to get to know how the department works from the inside, he said. He is also working with the St. Lawrence County Department of Human Resources on navigating Civil Service regulations in finding a new police chief.
“We are in the process of getting a list of qualified candidates and then we will start our search,” he said.
Finding a police chief is part of his first priority.
“My priorities are immediately assessing and giving them (City Council) actions that I think are needed to provide the viability of life saving services — police, emergency services, fire, emergency medical, etc.” Mr. Jellie said. “Then number two are services I call, life sustaining — water, sewer, roads.”
City Council’s next regular meeting begins at 7 p.m. Aug. 10 at City Hall. when Mr. Jellie said he will give Council an update on his findings thus far. Details on how the meeting will be available to the public will be announced prior to the meeting.