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Posted on: September 28, 2021

Press Release from City Manager Stephen P. Jellie Regarding 2020 Audit

Ogdensburg city 1868

The Ogdensburg City Council formally accepted the 2020 Financial Audit Report at its regular meeting on 27 September 2021 by a unanimous vote of 7-0.   The information contained in the 2020 audit report is verification that the city’s financial posture is improving and the outlook. for future years is positive.    “Decisive action by the majority of city council to reduce personnel costs, cease duplicative services and invest in the future is achieving the results taxpayers expect.”     Key indicators from the 2020 audit are:

  1. An internally generated surplus of $1.46M in the 2020 General Operating Budget  
  2. A 57% increase in the city’s operational “Fund Balance” from $2.57M to $4.03M
  3. A 31% reduction in the city’s operational “Debt Balance” from $7.60M to $5.25M      
  4. A 23% reduction in the city’s personnel strength from 131 full-time to 101 full-time  (2021 budget)

The information contained in this final report played a significant role in the city’s credit rating being increased earlier this year by Moody’s from Ba1 (junk bond – non investment grade) to Baa3 (Investment grade).  The city’s credit rating was stagnant the previous 4 years in junk bond status due to high levels of debt and limited ability to raise additional revenue despite the extraordinarily high property tax rates being levied by the city government and school district.  

In addition to these positive reports illustrating the financial progress made in the first full year of the Skelly Administration, the city is currently exceeding 2021 sales tax revenue projections by 23%.   Sales tax revenue expectations in the 2021 Annual Budget are established at $3.7M, and if the current trend continues the amount actually received could be as high as $5.2M.   

“While all of this positive financial news is encouraging, it is very important the city maintain a very disciplined and conservative approach with current and future spending commitments.”  In 2022, the City will reduce the property tax rate by at least 10% so that it can continue to reduce the high risk of exceeding the New York State Constitutional Tax Limit and the overburdening amount of local taxes levied on families and businesses.    After refusal of the St. Lawrence County Legislature to negotiate a fair sales tax distribution deal, led by former Board Chairmen Joe Lightfoot and Finance Committee Chairmen Kevin Acres, the city will experience a reduction in sales tax revenue of at least $1.5M in 2022 as it separates from the County and collects its own sales tax.   Property tax and sales tax revenue are the city’s two most significant sources of revenue and with both decreasing the 2022 Annual Budget will see reductions from 2021 spending levels. 

“Mayor Skelly and the Majority City Council are achieving their goal of “Ensuring the survival of the City while accelerating the Revival of the City” by reducing property taxes, properly aligning resources to economic development priorities, removing redundancy from local government and cleaning up city neighborhoods.   The financial proof is verifiable, the improved appearance of the city is obvious and the renewed spirit of progress is undeniable”  

The view the 2020 Audit, please click here.

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