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Spa City charter review commission approves proposed charter

Spa City charter review commission approves proposed charter

The commission still must discuss the details of the city's Civil Service Commission

SARATOGA SPRINGS — City residents will decide the fate of a proposal to add two at-large members to the City Council during the November election. 

The city's Charter Review Commission voted to approve a second draft of the charter at its meeting on Tuesday, with the exception of section 2.7, which pertains to the Civil Service Commission. 

Attorney Robert McLaughlin of the Saratoga Springs-based firm Hodgson Russ, which provides outside counsel to the Charter Review Commission, is expected to provide additional information to the commission on how other cities operate a Civil Service Commission, as well as proposed ballot questions by Thursday. 

The 10-person Charter Review Commission plans to ask voters a separate question on the November ballot: whether they approve of adding the two at-large City Council members. 

"We should leave it to the people to decide if they want to see an expansion of City Council," Commissioner of Finance Michele Madigan said at Tuesday's meeting. 

Commissioner of Accounts John Franck made the proposal for the two additional posts -- voting council members who would not run city departments. He said he envisions the proposal would provide a greater opportunity for residents who work full-time to participate in city government. 

The commission met at Saratoga Springs Public Library on Tuesday. Lightning struck City Hall earlier this month and ignited a portion of the top floor. City Hall is closed until further notice, and operations are continuing at various locations throughout the city

If the charter passes in its entirety in November, the two additional City Council members would not be added until Jan. 1, 2020. The remaining charter changes would go into effect on Jan. 1, 2019. 

Madigan said it would be helpful to have one year to transition to an expanded City Council.

The Charter Review Commission is expected to meet Friday to discuss the Civil Service Commission portion of the charter. The location and time of that meeting has yet to be determined. 

The current charter states that the City Council appoints three Civil Service Commissioners to serve for six-year staggered terms, without compensation. 

The Charter Review Commission is looking to include the Human Resources Department into the Civil Service Commission. 

Commissioner of Public Works Anthony "Skip" Scirocco said the merger would be beneficial. 

"They would work as a team, so we'd have a good group of employees working together," he said. "It makes sense to have them in the same department." 

The Charter Review Commission must file the approved version of the proposed charter with the city clerk by Sept. 7, before it is filed with the Saratoga County Board of Elections. 

At its meeting on Friday, the commission is also expected to discuss educational outreach to the public before the November election. 

To view the proposed charter, visit www.saratoga-springs.org

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