PHOTOS BY VERA OLINSKI
Councilman Peter Opilla clarifies the Engine-Braking Ordinance.
By Vera Olinski
OGDENSBURG — The Ogdensburg Council unanimously approved an ordinance prohibiting “Engine-Braking” on Jan. 28 Before passage, resident Eric Schmidl questioned the safety of trucks with glazed brakes being forbidden to engine-brake — with exhaust brakes — in emergency situations and possibly opening the borough to legal consequences. Councilman Peter Opilla said truckers are allowed to do whatever they need to do in any emergency situation; the town is not stopping them from using their exhaust brakes when absolutely necessary. He said the point of the ordinance is to deter trucks from driving through town at excessive speeds and using their engine-brakes to stop. Mayor George Hutnick said if brakes are glazed, it happened before trucks arrived at Ogdensburg. Furthermore, after the police stepped up their patrols, they reported the trucks come through sometimes more than 12 miles over the speed limit, especially around 2 and 3 a.m. The whole point, he said, is to keep everyone in check, and he agreed, trucks may do whatever they need in order to stop the vehicle in an emergency situation. He continued, they were talking about coming through town with the appropriate speeds and loads to maintain safety from one end to the other. In addition, Hutnick said, Ogdensburg has developed a statewide reputation for not allowing speeding through the borough. He explained, over twenty years ago, the town had had a severe speeding problem, and the chief of the police at the time “cracked down on it hard.” The ordinance, he said, is just another protocol they are putting in place to keep the town residents and anyone coming through town safe. After awhile, he continued, trucks will know to slow down at the border of Ogdensburg. Councilman David Astor said, the ordinance is one aspect of their safety plan, because they have had too many accidents. He said they have also addressed the problem with the police and local quarries. Hutnick said the quarry even has a sign posted, which says “No Jake-Brakes,” adding, he understands people are paid by the load, and time is money. Councilman Anthony Nasisi said the ordinance started in response to a resident complaining about trucks engine braking through residential areas in the wee hours of the morning, 3-4 a.m., when no one was in front of them. Councilwoman Brenda O’Dell said when trucks drive safe speeds, they do not need to rely on emergency braking. She continued she had driven a bus for many years, speeds can be adjusted with the gears, plus, “The grade is so slight.” The Council also unanimously approved a Shared Services Agreement with Sussex Borough to hire Chief Financial Officer Michel Marceau for a four year term beginning Feb. 1, 2019, with the starting salary of $105K and benefits. In addition, the council unanimously approved the ordinance adding the senior Payroll Clerk position and fixing salaries of offices and Ogdensburg employees. The payroll range for Senior Payroll Clerk will be from $45,501 to $56,634. They also unanimously introduced the resolution promoting Kimberly Cucci to Senior Payroll Clerk, with an annual salary of $45,501. Councilman David Astor discussed a possible breach of contract between Blue Diamond Disposal and the borough of Ogdensburg, where Blue Diamond is adding extra charges. He said he has reached out several times to Blue Diamond without a response. Hutnick said Ogdensburg will only pay the contracted amount and not the additional charges. Furthermore, he said, some neighboring towns are having similar problems with Blue Diamond, and the different municipalities are planning to meet and work collectively in order to solve the problem.