saratogianOfficials to review city charter, public to comment on and hear ideas next week

SARATOGA SPRINGS >> A City Charter Review public hearing that was originally scheduled for this Tuesday has been moved to next Tuesday, Oct. 18 so as to not interfere with Yom Kippur. However, the Charter Review Commission will still meet this Tuesday to get a sense of what members are feeling thus far about the different options that lie in front of them in regards to changing the charter.

Contrary to reports, the Charter Review Commission has not decided on what changes to the form of government they will recommend to the City Council, and will not make those decisions until hearing from the public. According to commission chairman Bob Turner, attempts to change the City Charter in the past have been conducted with an idea in mind already, which is not something this commission wanted to do, he said.

Turner confirmed the change of date for the public hearing, as Yom Kippur begins Tuesday evening. Instead, the Commission will meet to discuss which changes to the Charter they think have sounded most beneficial thus far. Which changes would better allow for citizens to run for elected office and which changes would keep taxes low, are just some of the questions the commission will ponder. “This is way for us to express and think about the different concerns of committee members,” Turner said. “It’s a way to make our decision making as systematic and unbiased as possible.”

By law, the City Charter is to be reviewed every ten years. The Charter is a document that outlines the specific functions, powers and procedures of the city’s government. At this time, the Charter Review Commission has interviewed 13 former and current elected officials. Those not interviewed yet will be given a chance to testify on October 25. Turner said that those invited include Commissioner of Public Works Anthony “Skip” Scirocco , former Mayor Scott Johnson and county supervisors. Who else the commission wants to speak to will also be discussed at Tuesday’s meeting.

Turner said that the commission owes it to the City to “do their homework” to decide on the best City Charter possible for Saratoga Springs.

During the public hearing next Tuesday, the public is encouraged to attend and express any questions or concerns they may have about the City Charter.

“We’ve heard from elected officials, but we really want to hear about how this form of government is doing for the tax payers and the citizens,” Turnder said. “It’s not just about how it’s working for the elected officials.”

The public hearing will the first of more to come, Turner said. It takes place in the Tang Museum at Skidmore College at 7 p.m. as part of Tang’s “More Perfect Union” exhibit, which asks us to think critically and actively about the role that politics, policy, and our national discourse play in the state of the Union, Turner said.