Ogdensburg Mayor suggests ‘drastic’ changes to city employee pay, healthcare benefits

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Dobisky Visitors Center, Ogdensburg, New York

OGDENSBURG, N.Y. (WWTI) — Ogdensburg city officials are calling for changes to city employee pay rates and healthcare benefits.

In a press release issued to the public, Ogdensburg City Manager Stephen Jellie confirmed recommendations made by Mayor Jeffrey M. Skelly to the full City Council. These recommendations are on how to make “drastic” changes to the City Employee Pay and Healthcare Contributions Program. Specifically, Mayor Skelly is aiming to close the pay gap by at least 6% in 2022.

According to Mayor Skelly, some employee groups are making “more money than others.” He claimed that the lower paid employees pay more for healthcare. He added that in some cases, the gap in pay between city employees at the same organizational level of responsibility can reach 39%. Mayor Skelly cited this data in the 2021 Budget Analysis linked below.

”My administration will not allow the significant pay disparity that has existed for many years between employee groups to continue; it is just not fair and equitable in any way, shape or form,” Skelly said in a press release.

Mayor Skelly added that past city councils “knowingly condoned the irresponsible practice of the city manager bargaining individually.” He specifically called out current Councilors Michael Powers, Dan Skamperle and Nicole Kennedy.

“It is no secret that members of the 2019 city council sought to tie the hands of the newly elected 2020 city council by approving the unaffordable raises and employee perks contained in the police and fire union contracts,” Skelly added in the press release. “Unfortunately, in their rush to ratify those contracts before the new council assumed office they furthered the divide in employee take home pay and forced most all employees to contribute 20% toward healthcare while allowing members of the fire department to remain as low as 6%”. 

City Manager Stephen Jellie added that according to the information provided by the Mayor, “all bargaining units in the city agreed to increase the employee contribution toward healthcare to 20% for most employees, yet fire department employees only pay an average 7% .”

Jellie also confirmed that the City of Ogdensburg will be making a personnel reduction in 2022 to match the potential loss of sales tax revenue. A similar reduction was made in the 2020 Annual Budget to stabilize the city’s finances. Jellie said this was to prevent the city from filing for bankruptcy.

Mayor Skelly is set to formally make these recommendations to Ogdensburg City Council during budget meetings in October.

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