Saratoga Springs voters to decide on government change

October 31, 2017 11:32 PM

Election Day is November 7. The most contentious race in Saratoga Springs this year centers around a proposal to change the form of government.

Charter change became even more heated on Tuesday.

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The current City Council is five elected members, all serving as part-time department heads - all with an equal vote on city matters.

That's no longer effective says the Charter Review Commission, a group of citizens appointed by the mayor and the council, to study the form of government. They concluded the city would be better served by hiring a full-time city manager who runs the show and electing seven council members to set policy.

The commission wanted to mail its findings and recommendations to city voters and needed city money for the mailing.

The City Council took issue with the mailing, saying a change won't provide the claimed cost savings. So the Charter Review Commission mailed it on its own. A couple members spent thousands of dollars of their own money to get it done.

Accounts Commissioner John Franck says two private citizens can't pay for and send mail as official representatives of the city, complete with the city seal and the mayor's return address. So Franck is asking the Board of Elections, the Attorney General and the U.S. Postal Service to investigate.

"After the election, whether it goes up or down, I want these two individuals' contributions to be clearly looked at," explained Franck.

He says the commission could have asked Mayor Joanne Yepsen to authorize paying for the mailing. She wouldn't say Tuesday if they did.

NewsChannel 13’s Mark Mulholland asked Yepsen if they asked her to appropriate the money for the mailing. "They have submitted throughout this entire process exactly by the books," she replied.

Commissioner Franck says he doesn't want the investigation to stop people from voting next week, but he does want to find out if laws were broken.

NewsChannel 13 received a statement from the Charter Review Commission Tuesday evening, which says its work should be independent from political interference from the City Council.

The commission accuses incumbents on the council of using taxpayer resources and 'dirty political tricks' to intimidate people who want better government.


WNYT Staff

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