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Ogdensburg’s 2014 budget approved 6-1 by city council


OGDENSBURG — The City Council voted 6-1 Monday to adopt a $19,102,179 budget for 2014 that leaves the tax rate unchanged, although city residents will pay more for sewer service.

Deputy Mayor Michael D. Morley cast the sole opposing vote. He was against the 2014 sewer rates, which will increase 16 percent from $316 to $368 flat and from $4.84 to $5.62 per 1,000 gallons metered.

The increase is required to cover the estimated $250,000 cost of drainage improvements to the city’s wastewater treatment plant by 2014 and the installation of a $4.5 million, 800,000-gallon storm water retaining tank by 2020. Mr. Morley wanted them paid for by bonding.

Water rates will remain $276 flat and $3.40 per 1,000 gallons.

Mr. Morley also was disappointed that economic development-geared contract agencies had their funding requests cut. “We’ve got to give them (people) an incentive to come here,” he said.

Mayor William D. Nelson and Councilors Wayne L. Ashley, R. Storm Cilley, Jennifer Stevenson, William D. Hosmer and Daniel E. Skamperle voted in favor of the budget, which keeps the tax rate at $16.73 per $1,000 assessed valuation.

Mr. Morley and Mr. Skamperle voted against the sewer rate increase.

“I think it’s too much,” Mr. Skamperle said.

In other budget highlights:

n The Greater Ogdensburg Chamber of Commerce requested $15,000 and will get $12,500.

n The Ogdensburg Pride and Beautification Commission asked for $7,500 and will receive $4,500.

n Ogdensburg Command Performances requested $3,500 and will receive $2,500.

n The Ogdensburg Garden Club asked for $2,500 and will get $1,750.

n Forsyth’s Rifles will get $850 as requested.

n FISHCAP asked for $5,000 and will receive $3,000.

n Frederic Remington Art Museum requested $172,350 and will receive $166,873.

n Ogdensburg Public Library requested $551,155 and will get $543,366.

The budget’s general fund will rise 2.5 percent, from $11,858,577 to $12,156,911. The city expects to collect $3,251,216 in sales taxes in 2014, an increase of about $500,000 over this year’s $2,705,000 total.

Also, the council voted a required 5-2 or 60 percent vote in favor of overriding the state’s cap on property tax increases. The cap is the rate of inflation, which is 1.6 percent.

City Comptroller Philip A. Cosmo said the override is a “safety net” in case a state audit of the budget turns up miscalculations in the levy collected.

No one expects that to happen.

“We don’t have any intention of exceeding the cap,” said Mr. Cilley, who voted in favor.

Mr. Nelson, Mr. Ashley, Mr. Morley and Mr. Skamperle also voted in favor.

Ms. Stevenson and Mr. Hosmer opposed the override.

“I don’t see any benefit,” she said.

Mr. Hosmer saw no need for the resolution because the projected $500,000 increase in sales tax revenues will keep the budget stable.

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