Mechanicville is in the process of modernizing its city code and charter.
“It’s bringing everything up to date,” Mayor Anthony Sylvester said about the process, which is scheduled for final approval in October.
Aside from updating language in the code and charter, like references in the charter to 1915, when the municipality took the jump from a village to a city, Sylvester said changes include a new penalty system for building code violations. Currently, building code violators face a small fine and aren’t forced to make changes that would adhere to the code. If the proposed changes are adopted, he said, a building owner would face an initial fine and then additional fines until the issue is resolved.
A copy of the proposed changes is on the Around Saratoga blog at www.dailygazette.com.
Mechanicville Commissioner of Accounts Mark Seber added some of the building code changes, like codifying certain building dimensions, are designed to make parts of the city more like neighborhoods. The code also includes restrictions on burning rubbish within city limits,
Seber said a major change to the charter is the process of appointing deputies, which currently requires approval by the council. The new system would allow commissioners to appoint their own deputies.
There was also discussion about creating a deputy mayor position, Seber said, but that idea was withdrawn early in the drafting process.
He added the proposed changes do not include tweaks to the city’s commission form of government, which was a serious topic of discussion a few years ago. At that time, he said a report was commissioned that suggested it would be too expensive for the city to adopt a system with a city manager or strong mayor.
“I am personally for changing the government,” Seber said. “I don’t think this is the best form of government, but people seem to be happy with it. There was no outcry.”
The changes also include term limits for the fire chief.
Sylvester stressed none of the changes are controversial and are mostly about bringing the city into the 21st century, like posting the code on the city’s website.
The next public hearing on proposed changes is Aug. 7 at the council’s regular meeting. Another hearing will be held Sept. 4, and a formal hearing is scheduled for Oct. 2, when the council could approve the changes.