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Ogdensburg city manager terminated, agrees to $101,138 payment

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OGDENSBURG — City Manager Arthur J. Sciorra’s six years of service to Ogdensburg ended Tuesday as the lawmakers terminated his contract with a $101,138.40 settlement that includes $33,933 in cost-of-living adjustments for past years.

Following a 40-minute executive session, the City Council voted 7-0 in favor of firing Mr. Sciorra.

The six-paragraph termination resolution made no mention of removing Mr. Sciorra from his $99,748-a-year position with or without cause.

City Comptroller Philip A. Cosmo was appointed by the council to be acting city manager for 90 days. He assumed the position Dec. 19 when the council suspended Mr. Sciorra.

A preliminary resolution to fire him stemmed from allegations that he was neglectful of his duties after it was revealed that a family was allowed to live rent-free and pay no taxes in a city-owned home at 819 Knox St. that was renovated as part of the city’s housing rehabilitation program. He said the matter was allowed to fall through the cracks by Mr. Cosmo and former city planner J. Justin Woods.

But blame in the matter wasn’t part of the agreement. Mr. Sciorra declined to say whether he was angry over his termination, but he acknowledged it was a “sad” outcome.

“The settlement agreement means I can continue on with my life,” Mr. Sciorra said. “It opens my career back up.”

Mr. Sciorra is for now undecided on the next step in his career path.

The settlement agreement also means Mr. Sciorra cannot sue the city. He was considering suing Mr. Woods, Mayor William D. Nelson and Deputy Mayor Michael D. Morley for defamation of character and breach of contract for statements made about his job performance during the city’s investigation of the 819 Knox St. matter.

Following the vote, Mr. Nelson said the council voted to terminate Mr. Sciorra’s contract and left it that.

But the mayor credited Mr. Sciorra for his role in “many positive things” that had occurred in the city over the past six years.

Mr. Morley chose brevity when asked about Mr. Sciorra’s termination.

“I have no comment,” he said.

Councilor Daniel E. Skamperle had been critical of what he perceived as a rush to judge Mr. Sciorra. But he stood by his decision to join the unanimous vote to fire him.

“I was in favor of due process,” Mr. Skamperle said.

Councilors William D. Hosmer and Wayne L. Ashley said the termination represented a much-needed closure for the city.

“I think what the council decided was in the best interest of the public,” Mr. Hosmer said.

“It was agreed upon by the parties involved that it is in the best interest of the community and Mr. Sciorra to move forward separately,” Mr. Ashley said. “We have to get past all the distractions that have consumed us for the past several months.”

Councilors R. Storm Cilley and Jennifer Stevenson also voted in favor of firing Mr. Sciorra.

Mr. Nelson said the recruitment for a new city manager will begin soon, but there is “no timeline” on it for now.

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