The City of Ogdensburg just a short time ago received the decision from the New York State Supreme Court Appellate Division – 3rd Department “AFFIRMING” the City of Ogdensburg’s ability to shift delinquent tax collection responsibilities to St. Lawrence County. Please click here to read the decision. This likely precedent setting decision is an enormous victory for the City of Ogdensburg and Mayor Jeffrey M. Skelly in their continued efforts to save the City from financial ruin while working equally as hard to revive the City for the next generation of hard working Ogdensburg residents.
Since taking office in January 2020, Mayor Skelly’s administration refused to yield to the outrageous demands directed toward the City from the County that became so common over the past two decades. Shortly after taking office, Mayor Skelly was confronted with a proposal by then County Board Chairman Joseph Lightfoot and Finance Committee Chairman Kevin Acres that would reduce the City’s share of sales tax distribution by over 50% ($2MM) - a move that was designed to intentionally add to the long standing financial struggles of the City. Mayor Skelly refused this ruthless plan and lead the City to collect its own sales tax and further its financial independence. From that point forward, County officials have refused, obstructed and avoided any action or initiative that would consolidate local government, remove redundancy and allow City residents to keep more of their hard earned money.
The decision from the Appellate Court brings the second victory in many attempts by the County to prevent the City from realizing the same services from the County as it provides to all other towns and villages and prevents the County from dictating how City government functions. In this lawsuit, brought against the City by County Treasurer Renee Cole and County Attorney Steven Button, the County sought to dictate to the City how it enforces or decides not to enforce the collection of delinquent property taxes. Renee Cole and Steven Button want the City to continue making the County whole for all of its unpaid property taxes and they do not want to see the City recover from the financial thumb it has placed over the City for decades.
Quote from Mayor Skelly: Starving the City of vital services, such as Emergency 911 Dispatching, places lives at risk. Refusing to allow the City to obtain its rightful share of sales tax collection while withholding equal services provided to other local governments is discriminatory. Intentionally forcing City residents to pay double or triple for some critical life saving and life sustaining services is reckless, irresponsible and costs all St. Lawrence County taxpayers more of their hard earned money. The City will continue to defend itself and it will continue to press current County Board Chairman William Sheridan and County Administrator Ruth Doyle to act proactively and cooperatively with the City instead of continuing to allow Renee Cole and Steven Button to further waste County and City taxpayer funds on their frivolous lawsuit.