Monday, 23 August 2021 marks the beginning of the City of Ogdensburg’s 2022 Annual Budget preparations. As Mayor I take the fiscal responsibility of my office and my commitment to lower taxes for the citizens of Ogdensburg very seriously.
As such, I have requested the City Manager work expediently to deliver a draft 2022 Annual Budget recommendation to the City Council well in advance of the November 1 charter requirement so that all City Councilors have the opportunity to bring their innovative perspectives and cost-saving ideas to the table while providing maximum opportunity for community members to participate.
In 2021, after intense public debate, and significant opposition from some members of City Council, the majority of City Council voted decisively for first time in a decade to reduce the City Tax rate by 10%, from $19.86 in 2020 to $17.87 in 2021. For Fiscal Year 2022, I am establishing the goal of reducing the City Tax Rate by at least an additional 10%, from $17.87 to $15.88; if achieved will be lowest City Tax Rate since 2011 and a 20% reduction of the City Tax Rate since I took office. Ogdensburg taxpayers need tax relief, they need to keep more of their own money and they need to know that every dollar of their tax contributions are being invested wisely in the future of the City. Business as usual, preservation of unaffordable past practice and appeasement of special interests will be replaced with streamlined government operations, new forward moving initiatives and equal consideration of all City residents.
Fiscal Year 2022 will be challenging. The City will have to make very hard decisions to maintain the fiscal recovery that saved the City from bankruptcy in 2020/2021 and to insure the continued revival of the City is accelerated. For many years the City has been taken advantage of by disproportionate sales tax revenue distribution and service delivery from St. Lawrence County, and while the City is making every effort to cease these practices, the County successfully attacked our second highest source of revenue in 2019/2020 and the effects of that will be impacting in 2022 as we begin the collection of sales tax independent from the County. In addition, we must address the escalating costs of employee healthcare, increases in state mandated retirement contributions and the significant increase in expenses related to the completion of the Wastewater Treatment Plant. I am calling on all members of the City Council, City Staff, Union Leaders and members of the community to embrace the fiscal realities facing the City and avoid the practice of fiercely defending one City service over another. We need all of our City services and we must fund them in a balanced manner. We need all of our City employees and we must compensate them for their service and sacrifice in an equitable manner. We need all our City Councilors to participate in this process in the best interest of the entire City and not favor preferred groups over fact based priorities.
I am honored, proud and humbled to be the Mayor of the City of Ogdensburg and I remain dedicated to the revival of the only city in the largest county in New York State. Please join me in establishing the 2022 Annual City Budget.