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Spa City Charter Review Commission to seek public input

Spa City Charter Review Commission to seek public input

The 10-person group sets spending plan that would not exceed $40,000
Spa City Charter Review Commission to seek public input
Saratoga Springs Mayor Meg Kelly.
Photographer: Erica Miller

SARATOGA SPRINGS — More than a month after Mayor Meg Kelly appointed a Charter Review Commission, the 10-person group set an unofficial budget at its meeting on Tuesday. 

The spending plan would not exceed $40,000. The City Council will vote on the budget at its April 17 meeting. 

The budget includes payment for legal counsel, a communications specialist and a clerk who would type meeting minutes. It would also include funding for at least one informational mailer to be sent to city residents. 

Kelly appointed the commission, which is chaired by City Attorney Vincent DeLeonardis, on March 6. 

Members include: Deputy Commissioner of Finance Michael Sharp, Deputy Commissioner of Public Works John Daley, Deputy Mayor Lisa Shields, Deputy Commissioner of Accounts Maire Masterson, Deputy Commissioner of Public Works Joseph O'Neill, Commissioner of Accounts John Franck, Commissioner of Public Safety Peter Martin, Commissioner of Finance Michele Madigan and Commissioner of Public Works Anthony "Skip" Scirocco. 

The commission is tasked with making proposed changes to the city's current charter. The proposed changes will go before voters in November. 

Changing the current mayor/commissioners form of government to one led by a city manager was rejected in November

On Tuesday, the commission also discussed how to best solicit input from the public, city employees and former commissioners and deputy commissioners. 

DeLeonardis said public input is crucial and that there are multiple ways to do that, including the commission's website, public comment periods at each meeting and hosting public forums. 

"We should hold a forum early on, perhaps in the next week or so, for the public to provide input and suggestions on how to improve the city charter," he said. "One should also be held near the end regarding the changes we're looking to make."

Commissioner of Accounts John Franck said while forums are important, he's concerned about lackluster attendance. 

"We're going into the summer and people have their minds on other things," he said. "We should look into doing a survey online where people have to verify that they are residents so they can give their input.

Sharp said the public can ask questions and provide comments to the commission on the city's website. He added that input from city employees is also crucial. 

"We want to hear from the public and those who deal with this everyday," he said. "Time is our enemy, so a more speedy way to do that is send out a questionnaire to personnel who represent different departments. 

"We could ask them what issues they think there are with the current charter and what tweaks they would like to see."

DeLeonardis said a questionnaire for designated city employees who hold management positions would be drafted for approval at the commission's next meeting. 

The commission held an organizational meeting on March 27 where oaths of office were taken, subcommittees were established and Sharp, the commission's vice chair, was named treasurer. 

At the next commission meeting, Title 1 of the charter — short title, territories, general city powers, and severability — and Title 2 — city council, supervisors, deputies and employees — are scheduled to be discussed. 

The next Charter Review Commission meeting will be held on April 25 at 4:30 p.m. at City Hall, 474 Broadway, Saratoga Springs. 

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