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Saratoga Springs will vote on changing form of government

Mark Mulholland
Updated: September 28, 2020 06:17 PM
Created: September 28, 2020 05:25 PM

SARATOGA SPRINGS -  In 2017, it came down to just 10 votes.

A proposal to change city government from an elected commissioner system to an appointed city manager position lost by 10 votes.

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The proposition is back and this time it offers something different: Six people from wards, and a mayor voted on by all, would be elected to serve on the City Council, but they wouldn't function as department heads like the five members of the council do now.

Former Public Safety Commissioner Ron Kim is part of a group called Common Sense Saratoga pushing for the change.

"Right now, the commissioners don't, as a primary job represent their constituents, they represent a department," said Kim.

Kim and Common Sense Saratoga say electing council members to represent people from sections of the city makes sense.

"So you'll have representation in City Council from your neighborhood," said Julie Cuneo of Common Sense Saratoga."You will have someone in City Hall who will answer to you, that you can vote for."

Proponents of the change say it will save city taxpayers money in the long run.  

But opponents aren't buying it, even claiming on their lawn signs that it will be "expensive."

"I don't think it's a good time to be taking a step into the unknown where we don't exactly what the cost will be," said David Patterson, a Saratogian for 40 years and opponent of changing the city charter.

Proponents say the cost savings could run in the millions of dollars as a paid city manager, answering to an elected council, makes City Hall more efficient.

Opponents like Richard Sellers, want proof.

"We don't know the total because the total will be put together by an imaginary task force. I say imaginary because it's unelected, unknown people," Sellers said.

If voters approve the change, candidates would be elected in November 2021 and the new government would take effect in January 2022.


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