BY JIMMY LAWTON
North Country This Week
Ogdensburg City Manager Sarah Purdy will retire June 26.
Purdy said she is retiring because she wants to look forward to the next phase in her life, but is offering to stay on until June 26 to allow the city time to fill the void.
“This is why I’ve giving 60 days notice. I’m certainly offering to help with the transition,” she said.
Purdy, the city’s first female city manager, came into the position with a depleted fund balance and over the past few years has worked with city council and her fellow department heads to help bring financial stability to the city.
“We’ve accomplished a lot as a city, but there is very little I’ve accomplished alone,” she said.
Purdy said she has worked with “tremendous” department heads, five of whom were promoted from within, which is another thing Purdy is happy to see.
“It shows that if you are committed and work hard and see the big picture you can move up,” she said.
Flood damage to the city’s waterfront and trails and an aging wastewater treatment plant were among some of the major projects Purdy was faced with during her tenure.
She said having the WWTP project underway and the modernization of the facility is something she is happy to have accomplished alongside council and staff.
Purdy said that she’ll continue to have a fondness for the city.
“Ogdensburg has a lot of character. Even people who disagree with me are generally nice about it,” she said.
She recalled that when she first took on the position she was approached by people who wanted to both meet her and express concerns regarding a plowing issue.
“I was not able to accomplish what they wanted. Often times people want you to make an exception for them and you can’t do that. What you do instead is you try to come up with a solution that works for everyone and if you can get them two-thirds of the way to what they wanted people are generally happy,” she said. “I think if you are willing to listen to people and understand their perspective and consider it, that’s what people really want.”
Purdy said such occurrences became a pattern and she was pleased to work closely with city residents.
“I’ve had people approach me in the grocery story and thank me and that’s just a great feeling,” she said.
Purdy said during her time as manager, the city never incurred an improper practice charge.
“That’s four years with five unions,” so I’m pretty proud of that as well,” she said.
Purdy said it’s been an honor to work for the people of Ogdensburg.
Although Purdy will retire in June, she intends to bring forward plans to help find financial savings to Ogdensburg as the city struggles to deal with the economic impacts of the coronavirus.
She will give a presentation to council at an online meeting Monday.
Purdy’s announcement to retire comes on the heals of statements from the Ogdensburg Mayor that he intended to put forward a resolution to remove her, but some councilors have strongly opposed that option.
It’s also unclear if the city will look to fill the manager position or transition to a non-city manager style of government.