Spa City’s proposed code likely to be ready for public consumption by week’s end
Published 10:39 pm, Sunday, February 19, 2017
By the end of the week, the proposed city charter will likely be ready to be rolled out to the public.
Bob Turner, charter commission chairman, said that drafts of the new charter have been going back and forth between the 15-member commission for the past eight weeks. So far, the commission agreed upon many points including the preamble, duties of the city manager, appointment and responsibilities of the city attorney and the makeup of the city council. On Thursday, the charter commission members will finalize the role of a “dynamic mayor” and the salary structure of manager, the mayor and the city council members.
“We are getting very close. I know citizens want to see the final product as soon as possible,” said Turner. “While we have the main provisions of the charter, there are a number of important details we have to get right.”
The charter is being drafted by Robert Batson, the government lawyer in residence at Albany Law School who in the past 10 years has drafted new charters for Albany, Troy, Amsterdam, Cohoes, Oneonta and Glen Cove.
The new charter, if approved by voters on May 30, would change the 100-year-old commission form of government to that of a city manager with a council composed of a mayor and six at-large council members.
Not all of the commissioners who now run the city are on board with plans for a new charter.
Mayor Joanne Yepsen and Commissioner of Public Safety Chris Mathiesen have said they support the charter commission’s call for a special election on the city’s fate. But the other three commissioners are opposed. Commissioners John Franck and Michele Madigan disapprove of the cost: $37,000 for the special election and $46,000 for administrative costs. Commissioner of Public Works Anthony “Skip” Scirocco said the idea of changing the government is “ludicrous” as the city is running well already.
The charter commission clearly disagreed, saying the current form stymies growth and progress.
The debate will be on Tuesday’s city council agenda where funding of the effort will be discussed and voted upon.
Whether the funding is there or not, the charter commission will begin to introduce the newly drawn charter proposal to the city residents in a series of public meetings and mailings.
“It’s important to educate the public,” Turner said.