Ogdensburg ballot appears to be set

Ogdensburg City Hall

OGDENSBURG — Ogdensburg City Manager Sarah Purdy delivered a report to City Council Aug. 19 that said changing the city’s form of government wasn’t necessary.

In June, Mayor Wayne L. Ashley floated the idea that it might be time to consider changing Ogdensburg’s designation as a city to something else.

In Ms. Purdy’s report, she said she assumed that the goal would be to find cost efficiencies in becoming either a village or a town. Dissolution would not be a feasible option, she said.

Municipal divisions in New York place cities in a special place. The state is divided into counties; counties are divided into towns and villages are located inside towns. Cities are inside the county, but do not fall within the boundaries of a town. Dissolving a city would make it an unincorporated area with no set path for delivering services.

Losing its city status would change the way Ogdensburg receives its portion of sales tax revenue from the county, Ms. Purdy said.

“Although, I have not seen the documentation,” Ms. Purdy wrote in her report, “I have heard that the County calculates this loss to be just under $2 million. Although some City services would become the responsibility of another governmental entity if the City became a village or a town, it would be difficult to find $2 million in savings.”

A study alone would cost about $75,000 and take from six months to a year to complete, Mrs. Purdy said.

She also noted that she could find no examples of cities dissolving and could only find examples of towns and villages becoming cities.

She said that recent city accomplishments mean that the city designation is working.

Those accomplishments include working with the Ogdensburg Growth Fund to support job growth, the $34 million low interest loan acquired to revamp the wastewater treatment plant, a potential partnership with the Village of Heuvelton to handle wastewater, a solar array to cut utility costs, Community Development block grants, expansion of the Maple City Trail, the Zombie Property programs and others.

“Given the momentum the City has built in the last few years with success in obtaining significant grant funding and positioning Ogdensburg to have a higher profile among State Funding Agencies, and given that there is no sense of urgency to consider changing the form of government I would suggest the city work on additional opportunities for cost efficiencies in the near term, and reconsider the question of the form of government at a later time.”

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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