OGDENSBURG, N.Y. (WWTI) — The Ogdensburg City Council will be presented with two resolution options on Monday regarding the staffing of the city’s fire department.
According to Ogdensburg City Manager and Fire Chief Stephen Jellie, the decision will either end the heavily debated topic of minimum staffing or maintain the current course of action which involves defending the City against sections of the bargaining unit agreement with the International Association of Firefighters Local 1799.
Previously, the IAFF rejected the City of Ogdensburg’s offer that was made in an effort to settle their staffing dispute. The city proposed at the time the IAFF give them permission to abolish positions and modify the FD organizational structure, reduce hazard pay, and reduce from two firefighters or fire officers on scheduled vacation or comp block leave per day to just one firefighter or fire officer. They also requested that the IAFF allow the city to forego the EMT Stipend from 2022 to 2025.
Despite the IAFF rejecting the city’s requests, the City reduced the Hazard Pay amount to $3 per member at the beginning of April. The decision was confirmed in a published letter addressed to IAFF Local 1799 from Jellie.
According to the city, the decision was based on current staffing levels and the inability to increase staffing levels to assign six members per workgroup. Jellie claimed that the efforts that have been made have benefitted the city in a press release.
“In November 2020, the Majority City Council instructed City Manager Stephen Jellie to defend the City against the current IAFF contract with the City that was forced upon taxpayers by the previous city council,” Jellie stated in a press release. “Since that time, the City has made substantial progress in reducing the size and structure of the fire department, almost entirely through attrition and saving approximately $1.5 Million annually in taxpayer funds.”
However, City Council must make the final policy decision on the overall size, structure, and daily strength of the fire department. Additionally, similar decisions on total organizational and daily minimum staffing for the Ogdensburg Police Department will be addressed at the next regular meeting of the City Council which is on May 23.
The proposed resolutions can be found in the document below.