Mayor Kim, Montagnino trade charges over Saratoga Springs liability insurance

Saratoga Springs Mayor Ron Kim and Public Safety Commissioner Jim Montagnino are now butting heads over the city’s liability insurance.

Montagnino sent an email to NewsChannel 13 with a letter from Travelers saying it has dropped the city from coverage effective Jan. 1, 2024. The insurance company wrote: “The City of Saratoga Springs’ approach to risk and safety management creates an unacceptable increase in the hazards contemplated for the City.”

Montagnino is blaming Kim for having the council pass a resolution in August 2022 transferring the director of risk and safety from the Accounts Department to the Mayor’s Office. At that time, Montagnino said he knew that the director of risk and safety planned to retire in May.

Kim did not appoint a successor to the post – despite there being a valid civil service list of qualified applicants.

Instead of replacing the position, Montagnino said the mayor opted to hire a director of public relations.

As a result, Montagnino said the city will have to obtain its insurance through the municipal equivalent of an assigned risk pool. It will cost the city close to a million dollars.

“This decision on the part of the Mayor was no mere oversight. The only word to describe it appropriately is malfeasance,” Montagnino said.

Montagnino said Kim received the letter on Sept. 15, but did not disclose it to the public or the entire council. Montagnino received a copy of the letter when he inquired about the status of the insurance on Thursday.

In his response, Kim did not address Montagnino’s allegations directly. However, Kim said “any statement that the City of Saratoga Springs is either not insured, uninsurable, or is at risk of losing its municipal insurance coverage is factually inaccurate and irresponsible.”

Kim said the city is working with its insurance broker on coverage for 2024.

“There are several carrier options to consider in this current market for municipal coverage. We have been evaluating potential carriers with our broker for the 2024 calendar year, as we do each year,” he said.

Kim said municipalities across the United States are facing rising insurance costs because of natural disasters and the higher repair costs due to inflation.

Kim also blamed Montagnino for the increased costs, citing his “irresponsible mishandling” of bringing criminal charges against demonstrators at City Hall for adding to the insurance and defense cost burden.

Montagnino is pressing charges against two members of Saratoga Springs Black Lives Matter for disrupting City Council meetings.

This is the latest spat between Kim and Montagnino.

Earlier this year, body camera footage was leaked of a shouting match between the two in City Hall on May. Kim was upset because he believed that Montagnino wasn’t doing enough against threats against a family member. Kim was also captured on leaked audio recordings swearing at Montagnino on a phone call about the same issue.