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Thu., Oct. 8
Serving the community of Ogdensburg, New York

Ogdensburg expenses climb, debts loom, comptroller says


OGDENSBURG — The city will need to continue to deal with climbing expenses and some notably large overdue bills as it makes its way through 2013.

As for 2012, it was “not a stellar year by any stretch.” according to City Comptroller Philip A. Cosmo. “In 2012, we treaded water.”

In his year-end report to City Manager John M. Pinkerton, the comptroller made it clear that the city’s financial backdrop remains unsettling.

“I think we need to try to maintain a healthy fund balance and provide those essential services that the taxpayers have come to expect,” Mr. Cosmo said. “This is made somewhat difficult during these tough economic times and will require the administration and the City Council to make some hard decisions over the next few years.”

High on the list of concerns is the idled Tubroburg LLC kosher cheese plant at 30 Main St. It has more than $1 million in liabilities to the city, including more than $444,000 in sewer fees, $423,000 in water fees and an estimated $200,000 in back taxes.

Those numbers could go higher.

The city and Tubroburg are entering the fourth year of a legal battle in state Supreme Court in Canton. The city claims it is owed not only the back charges, but rent that is part of an agreement to buy the building. Turboburg claims it has been overcharged and seeking $10 million, according to the company’s attorney, David T. Antonucci of Watertown.

The case is progressing to a courtroom showdown.

“Eventually, there’s going to be a trial,” said Andrew W. Silver, the city’s attorney.

Another “area of concern,” Mr. Cosmo said, is the cogeneration plant on the grounds of the St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center. It owes the city $517,947 in back taxes, of which $218,990 is being sought at a tax sale on June 23.

“If we end up with that property, we will have serious concerns,” Mr. Cosmo said.’

In other highlights from the year-end report:

n Sales tax: The city collected $88,028 more than the $2,612,900 that was budgeted.

n Health care costs: In 2012, they continued to climb and bust the budget. Last year’s bills totaled $2,652,388, which was $152,320 over the $2,500,068 the city budgeted.

n Fire department: It ended the year with a negative balance of $69,885 as several firefighters preferred overtime to time off as compensation.

n Police department: There was $241,259 left over in its 2012 budget, a savings due to vacant positions.

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