On April 25, the Commission met to continue refining language of its proposed charter. Here is the latest draft at just 24 pages:
Under authority conferred by the Constitution of the State of New York, we, the People of Saratoga Springs do ordain and establish this Charter as the Law of the City to protect and enhance the health, safety, environment and general welfare of the people; to enable municipal government to provide services and meet the needs of the people efficiently; to allow fair and equitable participation of all persons in the affairs of the City; to provide for transparency, accountability and ethics in governance and civil service; to foster fiscal responsibility; to promote prosperity and diversity; and to address the broad needs of a changing society.
- Title and Purpose
This Charter, together with all amendments, if any, shall provide for and constitute the form of government of the City of Saratoga Springs, New York, and shall be known as the “Charter of the City of Saratoga Springs.” This Charter provides for the separation and balance of legislative and executive functions and responsibilities in order to promote clarity, efficiency and responsibility within City government. In addition, the Charter is intended to implement the City’s full home rule authority in accord with New York State law.
- City Status, Power and Duties
The City shall be and remain a municipal corporation and shall exercise all of the rights, privileges, functions and powers conferred upon it by this Charter and state law. Coordinately, the City shall be subject to all duties and obligations imposed by local laws not inconsistent with this Charter and state law, and enjoy all necessary incidental powers to duly exercise the duties and obligations so imposed.
The City’s geographic boundaries shall continue to be and remain intact, as established prior to the adoption of this Charter; existing boundaries are hereby ratified and confirmed and may subsequently be altered or expanded pursuant to applicable law.
CITY COUNCIL AND MAYOR
2.01. City Council Constituted.
The City Council shall be composed of the Mayor and six Members elected by the voters of the City at large
2.02. Acting Mayor.
At the first meeting in each year, the Mayor shall appoint, with the approval of the City Council, one Council Member to serve as Acting Mayor during the absence or disability of the Mayor, and who, if a vacancy occurs in the office of the Mayor, shall serve as Mayor until the office is filled as provided in this Charter.
- The City Council shall hold regular meetings on the first and third Tuesday evenings in each month, and at such other times as it shall designate. Meetings shall be conducted in compliance with the New York State Open Meetings Law. The Mayor shall preside at all meetings of the City Council. In the proceedings of the City Council, the Mayor and each Member present shall have a vote. A quorum of four Members present shall be required to hold a meeting.
- B. Special meetings. The Mayor, or, in the Mayor’s absence, the Acting Mayor, or any four Council Members may call special meetings by notice in writing or by electronic means served personally upon or transmitted electronically to the Members of the City Council, or left at their usual places of residence at least 24 hours before the time of the meeting.
The Mayor shall be elected Citywide and shall serve as the presiding officer of the City Council. The Mayor shall
- Be a voting Member of the City Council and shall attend and preside at meetings of the City Council;
- Represent the City in intergovernmental relationships;
- Appoint, with the advice and consent of the City Council, the members of all regulatory boards and commissions, including without limitation, the Planning Board, Zoning Board of Appeals, and Design Review Commission, the Comprehensive Plan Committee, Civil Service Commission, Ethics Board, Housing Authority, Special Assessment Districts, Board of Assessment Review, and the City Center Authority;
- Present an annual State of the City message,
- Appoint Members and officers of City Council standing committees as may be created by the Council;
- Assign, subject to the consent of the City Council, agenda items to committees;
- Create such advisory committees and appoint members thereto as deemed necessary in the public interest.
- Chair the Finance Committee of the City Council;
- Appoint a Charter Review Commission, beginning with the second U.S. Decennial Census results following the adoption of this Charter and upon receipt of the results of each subsequent U.S. Decennial Census; and
- Perform other duties as may be specified by the City Council.
The Mayor shall be recognized as the head of City government for all ceremonial purposes, but the Mayor shall have no administrative duties, other than those outlined herein.
2.05. Finance Committee.
The Finance Committee of the City Council shall review all budgets of the City prior to City Council approval; monitor the City’s financial affairs on an ongoing basis; and must approve all appropriations prior to action by the City Council. The Finance Committee shall consist of all members of the City Council, the Mayor as chair.
2.06 Appointment and Evaluation of City Manager.
The City Council shall appoint and hire a qualified person to the office of City Manager in accordance with Section 3.01. The City Council shall annually evaluate the performance of the City Manager.
2.07 Code of Ethics
The City Council shall adopt a Code of Ethics to guide the actions of elected and appointed City officers and employees. The Code of Ethics adopted may require periodic disclosures by elected and appointed officials so long as such requirements are consistent with Article 18 of the General Municipal Law of the State of New York. The City Code of Ethics shall be updated as needed pursuant to Article 18 the General Municipal Law.
- Holding Other Office. Except where authorized by law, no Council Member shall hold any other elected public office, including the office of County Supervisor, during the term for which the Member was elected to the City Council. No Council Member shall hold any other City office or City employment during the term for which the Member was elected to the City Council. No former Council Member shall hold any compensated appointive office or employment with the City until one year after the expiration of the term for which the Member was most recently elected to the City Council.
- Appointments and Removals. Neither the City Council nor any of its Members shall in any manner control the appointment or removal of any City administrative officer or employee whom the City Manager or any subordinate of the City Manager is empowered to appoint, but the City Council may express its views and fully and freely discuss with the City Manager anything pertaining to appointment and removal of such officers and employees.
- Interference with Administration. Except for the purpose of inquiries and investigations under this Section, the City Council or its Members shall deal with City officers and employees who are subject to the direction and supervision of the City Manager solely through the City Manager. Neither the City Council nor its Members shall give orders to any such officer or employee, either publicly or privately.
2.09. Vacancies; Forfeiture of Office; Filling of Vacancies.
- Vacancies. The office of a Council Member shall become vacant upon the Member’s death, resignation or removal from office or forfeiture of office in any manner authorized by law.
- Forfeiture of Office. A Council Member shall forfeit that office if the Council Member:
- Ceases to reside in the City;
- Is convicted of a felony during the Member’s term of office; or
- Fails to attend three consecutive regular meetings of the City Council without being excused by the City Council.
- Filling of Vacancies. If a vacancy shall occur in the office of Mayor or Council Member other than by expiration of term, that position shall be filled at the next general election, pursuant to the requirements of the NYS Election Law. Pending such election, the City Council shall appoint a person to fill such vacancy until a successor is elected and assumes office.
2.10 Judge of Qualifications.
The City Council shall be the judge of the election and qualifications of its Members, and of the grounds for forfeiture of their office. In order to exercise these powers, the City Council shall have power to subpoena witnesses, administer oaths and require the production of evidence. A Member charged with conduct constituting grounds for forfeiture of office shall be entitled to a public hearing on demand, and notice of such hearing shall be published in one or more newspapers of general circulation in the City at least one week in advance of such hearing and on the City’s website or other appropriate media as designated by the City Council
The City Council may make investigations into the affairs of the City and the conduct of any City department, office or agency and for this purpose may subpoena witnesses, administer oaths, take testimony, and require the production of evidence. Failure or refusal to obey a lawful order issued in the exercise of these powers by the City Council shall be a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not more than $1,000 for each day that the failure continues, or by imprisonment for not more than 30 days, or both.
2.12. Finance and property.
The City Council shall have the control of the finances and property of the City, except as otherwise provided in this Charter.
- The City Council shall provide for an independent annual audit of all City accounts and may provide for more frequent audits as it deems necessary. Such audits shall be carried out in accordance with Section 5.16.
- The City Council shall provide for an internal audit of all City accounts and may provide for more frequent audits as it deems necessary. Such audits shall be carried out in accordance with Section 5.17.
2.14. Legislative powers.
The City Council shall be the legislative, policy-making and appropriating body of the City. It shall have all the powers and perform all the duties now or in the future conferred by this Charter or imposed by law upon the legislative body of a City.
The City Council shall have the power to enact local laws, ordinances, and resolutions consistent with the US Constitution and the constitution and laws of the state, for purposes including but not limited to:
- The preservation of the order, peace, health, safety and welfare of the City, its residents and visitors.
- The benefit of trade, commerce and economic development within the City.
- The protection of the quality of life within the City.
- The protection of the business and property interests within the City.
- The government of the City and the management of its business.
2.16. Actions requiring enactment by ordinance or local law.
- The City Council shall, by ordinance or by local law:
- Establish rules or regulations and provide for fines or other penalties for violations thereof.
- Levy taxes;
- Grant, renew, or extend a franchise;
- Regulate the rate charged for its services by the holder of a franchise;
- Convey or lease, or authorize the conveyance or lease, of any lands of the City; or
- Amend or repeal any ordinance or local law previously adopted.
- These actions are in addition to other acts required by law or by specific provision of this Charter.
2.17. Enactment of Ordinances.
All ordinances enacted by the City Council shall be in writing and shall contain an enactment clause beginning with the words “Be it ordained. . .”
Any Council Member may introduce ordinances at any City Council meeting. The City Council shall pass no ordinance until the City Council has held a public hearing thereon. Such public hearing shall be on at least five days’ public notice, and such notice shall be published at least two times in the City‘s designated official newspaper or newspapers and on the City’s website or other appropriate media as designated by the City Council with a link to the proposed ordinance. Such notice shall indicate that a copy of the introduced ordinance shall be available for public review in the City Clerk’s office.
2.18 Enactment of local laws.
All local laws enacted by the City Council shall be in writing and shall contain an enactment clause beginning with the words, “Be it enacted . . . .” Local laws shall be enacted in accordance with the Municipal Home Rule Law.
2.19. Recording and proof.
All ordinances and local laws shall be recorded in books kept by the City for that purpose. The Charter, minutes of the City Council, and any ordinance or local law or part thereof may be proven by a copy certified by the City Clerk under the Seal of the City or by a book or pamphlet printed by authority of the City.
2.20. Publication and effective date.
All ordinances shall be published once after their passage and shall take effect the day after such publication unless otherwise specified in the ordinance. The City Council may publish a summary of each adopted ordinance as an alternative to publication of the full text of each adopted ordinance, except when publication of the full text of the ordinance is specifically required by laws of the State of New York or the United States. Each published summary of an ordinance shall briefly describe the subject matter of the ordinance and its purpose and shall state when and where a complete text of the ordinance shall be available for public review. All local laws shall be published and filed after passage in accordance with § 27 of the Municipal Home Rule Law.
2.21. Repeal and amendment.
No ordinance, or part thereof, shall be amended or repealed except by ordinance or local law. No local law, or part thereof, shall be amended or repealed except by local law.
2.22. Licensing occupations.
If an ordinance of the City prohibits the carrying on of any occupation or business without a license, the City Council shall fix the fee for such license; prescribe whether or not a bond shall be given by the licensee; prescribe the mode of licensing and the necessary qualifications of the licensee; approve or disapprove the application, and if approved, direct the City Clerk to issue the license.
2.23. Violation of ordinances and local laws.
- Penalty. Any ordinance or local law enacted by the City Council may provide that any person convicted of any violation of the same may be punished by imposition of a fine or by imprisonment, or both.
- Type of violation; civil penalty. Any ordinance or local law enacted by the City Council may provide that any person violating such ordinance or local law shall be guilty of a violation or of a misdemeanor or shall be liable to pay to the City a sum therein named as a penalty, to be recovered in a civil action. If no provision is made in any ordinance or local law as to the effect of a violation thereof, every violation thereof shall be a violation.
- Injunction relief. The City may maintain an action to restrain by injunction a violation of any ordinance or local law of the City Council or order of the Health Officer, notwithstanding that such ordinance, local law, or order may provide a penalty for such violation.
2.24. Succession to Office During Disaster
- Mayor. If, as a result of a disaster, as defined by § 20 of the Executive Law of the State of New York, the office of Mayor becomes vacant, or the Mayor by reason of disability or absence from the City shall be prevented from attending to the duties of the office of Mayor, and the Acting Mayor as the designated Council Member, is unable to discharge the powers and duties of the office of Mayor or shall be absent from the City, the City Council, or if vacancies have reduced its Membership to less than a majority, then a majority of the remaining Members of the City Council shall appoint a person to fill such vacancy until such time as the Mayor, Acting Mayor, or designated Council Member is able to assume the duties of the office of Mayor.
- City Manager.
- If, as a result of a disaster, as defined by § 20 of the Executive Law of the State of New York, the office of City Manager becomes vacant, or the City Manager by reason of disability or absence from the City shall be prevented from attending to the duties of the office of City Manager, and the Acting City Manager is unable to discharge the powers and duties of the office of City Manager or shall be absent from the City, the City Council, or if vacancies have reduced its Membership to less than a majority, then a majority of the remaining Members of the City Council shall appoint a Department Head to fill such vacancy until such time as the City Manager or Acting City Manager is able to assume the duties of the office of City Manager.
- In the event that no Department Head is selected pursuant to the process outlined in the paragraph above, the City Council shall appoint an appropriate individual to serve in such capacity
- Other City Offices. If, as a result of a disaster, as defined by § 20 of the Executive Law of the State of New York, any City officer except the Mayor or Council Member shall be unable to discharge the duties of office, the City Manager shall appoint a suitable person to discharge such duties during such disability, unless otherwise prohibited by law. The person so appointed shall have and exercise all the powers and discharge all the duties and be subject to all the provisions of law applicable to such officer, and shall receive such salary as shall be fixed by the City Council.
- 2.25. Compensation of Mayor and Council Members.
- Annual salaries shall be established by Local Law in conformance with New York State Law. Initial salaries for the City Council commencing January 1, 2020, shall be established by the City Council prior to the end of its term December 31, 2018.
3.01. Appointment; Qualifications; Compensation.
Appointment, term, compensation, qualifications. The City Council shall conduct the search and oversee the hiring and appointment of the City Manager, who shall be competent to execute the duties of the position. The City Manager shall be appointed solely on the basis of education, professional credentials and experience in the accepted competencies and practices of local government management. The City Manager shall be qualified by possessing a master’s degree with a concentration in public administration, public affairs or public policy and five years’ experience in an appointed managerial or administrative position in municipal government. The City Manager shall serve an indefinite term at the pleasure of the City Council and the City Council shall fix the compensation. The appointment of the City Manager may be accompanied by an agreement between the City and the City Manager, to be approved by the City Council and the City Manager that further defines the terms of the appointment. The City Manager need not be a resident of the City or State at the time of appointment, but may reside outside the City while in office only with the approval of the City Council. After an initial six-month probationary period, the City Manager’s performance shall be evaluated by the City Council and the Mayor and on an annual basis thereafter.
If the City Manager declines to resign at the request of the City Council, the City Council may suspend the City Manager by a resolution approved by the majority of the total Membership of the City Council. Such resolution shall set forth the reasons for the suspension and proposed removal. A copy of such resolution shall be served immediately upon the City Manager. The City Manager shall have fifteen days in which to reply thereto in writing and, upon request to the City Council, shall be afforded a public hearing, which shall occur not earlier than ten days nor later than fifteen days after such hearing is requested. After the public hearing, if one is requested and held, and after full consideration, the City Council by a majority vote of its total Membership may adopt a final resolution of removal. The City Manager shall continue to receive full salary until the effective date of a final resolution of removal.
3.03. Acting City Manager.
By letter filed with the City Clerk, the City Manager shall designate a City employee to exercise the powers and perform the duties of City Manager during the City Manager’s temporary absence or disability. The City Council may revoke such designation at any time and appoint another officer of the City to serve until the City Manager returns.
3.04 Powers and Duties of the City Manager.
The City Manager shall be the chief administrative and fiscal officer of the City, responsible to the City Council for the management of all City affairs placed in the City Manager’s charge by or under this Charter. The City Manager shall have the authority to:
- Appoint and suspend or remove all City employees and appointive administrative officers provided for-, by-, or under- this charter, except as otherwise provided by law, this charter or personnel rules adopted pursuant to this charter. The City Manager may authorize any administrative officer subject to the manager’s direction and supervision to exercise these powers with respect to subordinates in that officer’s department, office or agency;
- Direct and supervise the administration of all departments, offices and agencies of the City, except as otherwise provided by this charter or by law;
- Represent the City in the collective bargaining process as leader of the management team in City negotiations with collective bargaining units;
- Develop and implement a program of annual evaluation of all City employees in their respective positions to the extent consistent with collective bargaining agreements. The evaluations will examine the actual performance of each employee, areas of strength and weakness, and potential for career advancement. Evaluations will be administered for City employees including heads of all departments and all administrative units;
- Attend all City Council meetings. The City Manager shall have the right to take part in discussion, but shall not vote;
- See that all laws, provisions of this charter and acts of the City Council, subject to enforcement by the City Manager or by officers subject to the manager’s direction or supervision are faithfully executed;
- Prepare and submit the annual budget and capital program to the City Council and implement the final budget approved by the City Council in accord with Article V, Financial Management, of this Charter;
- Submit to the City Council and make available to the public a complete report on the finances and administrative activities of the City as of the end of each fiscal year;
- Make such other reports as the City Council may require concerning operations;
- Keep the City Council fully advised as to the financial condition and future needs of the City;
- Make recommendations to the City Council concerning the affairs of the City and cooperate with the City Council in developing policy by providing information requested by the City Council;
- Provide staff support services for the Mayor and Council Members;
- Assist the City Council to develop long-term goals for the City and strategies to implement these goals;
- Encourage and provide staff support for regional and intergovernmental cooperation, to the extent feasible;
- Promote partnerships among City Council, staff and citizens in developing public policy and building consensus in the community; and
- Perform such other duties as are specified in this charter or may be required by the City Council.
DEPARTMENTS, OFFICES AND AGENCIES
4.01 General Provisions
- Continuation of Existing Departments. As of the effective date of this Charter, all existing departments, offices and agencies established in the previous Charter and Code of the City of Saratoga Springs shall continue unless or until modified by the City Manager
- Creation of Departments. The City Manager in consultation with the City Council may establish, modify or abolish City departments, offices, or agencies in addition to those set forth in this Charter or the Code of the City of Saratoga Springs, and may prescribe the functions of all departments, offices, and agencies.
Direction by City Manager. All departments, offices and agencies under the direction and supervision of the City Manager shall be administered by an officer appointed by and subject to the direction and supervision of the City Manager. With the consent of the City Council, the City Manager may serve as the head of one or more such departments, offices or agencies, or may appoint one person as head of two or more of them.
4.02 Personnel System
Personnel system. All appointments and promotions of City employees, other than heads of departments and agencies and their deputies and senior managers, shall be made solely on the basis of merit and fitness demonstrated by examination or other evidence of competence, and according to the provisions and requirements of the Civil Service Law.
4.03 Legal Officer
- Appointment. The City Attorney shall be appointed by the City Council from a list of at least two qualified candidates nominated by the City Manager.
- Powers and duties. The City Attorney shall be the legal adviser for all officers, agencies, boards and commissions of the City. The City Attorney shall prosecute and defend all actions and proceedings by and against the City and every department thereof, and perform such other professional services relating to the City as the City Manager or City Council may direct. The City Attorney shall prepare all legal papers, contracts, deeds, and other instruments for the City and all City officers, departments, agencies, boards, and commissions.
4.04. City Clerk
The City Manager shall appoint a City Clerk with the advice and consent of the City Council who shall serve at the pleasure of the City Manager. The City Clerk shall give notice of City Council Meetings to its members and the public, keep the journal of its proceeding, and perform such other duties as are assigned by this Charter or by the laws of New York State.
4.05 City Assessor
The City Manager shall appoint a City Assessor with the advice and consent of the City Council who shall serve at the pleasure of the City Manager. The City Assessor, who shall be certified or become certified as provided by NYS regulation, shall estimate the value of real property within the City; provide property owners with fair and accurate assessments; inspect new construction and major improvements to existing structures to ensure accurate property descriptions and valuations; approve and track property tax exemptions, including the School Tax Relief (STAR) exemptions; attend all public grievance hearings of the Board of Assessment Review and present evidence in support of the municipality’s assessments; file annual report on assessment changes with the NYS Department of Taxation and Finance; and perform such other duties as are assigned by this Charter or by the laws of New York State.
4.06. County Supervisors
There shall be two Supervisors elected at large at each City election to serve on the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors. At the first election under this Charter, candidates shall run for one Supervisor position having a term of two years and one Supervisor position having a term of four years. Thereafter, Supervisors shall be elected for terms of four years. Supervisors may attend meetings of the Council and may report to and seek advice from the Council on matters affecting County or City business.
5.01 Fiscal Year
The fiscal year of the City shall begin on the first day of January and end on the last day of December.
5.02. Budget content.
The City Manager shall be responsible for preparing and administering a comprehensive City Budget. The budget shall comprise an Operations Budget, a Capital Budget, a Debt Service Budget and all subsidiary budgets of City entities. No budgeted funds shall be spent unless appropriated by the City Council
5.03 Budget preparation. The City Manager shall oversee preparation, completion, and submission of the City Budget according to the timeline set forth herein [and summarized in Appendix A.1]
- The City Manager shall, on or before August 1 of each year, send a call letter to all City departments and entities establishing budget parameters for the upcoming year. The call letter shall solicit from the heads of all departments and other City entities their budget requests for the ensuing year. Every proposed budget or amendment thereto submitted by any agency, board, commission, or other entity of the City of Saratoga Springs shall be submitted in accordance with the provisions of this section of the Charter.
- Budget requests shall be submitted to the City Manager on or before September 15. The City Manager shall transmit copies of the requests of each department or other entity to the City Council, as they are received, for their information and comment.
- The City Manager shall submit a detailed estimate of the amount of income from all sources, exclusive of taxes, and a detailed estimate of the amount of tax required to be levied to defray all expenses and liabilities of each City department or entity for the ensuing fiscal year.
5.04 Budget submission. The City Manager shall submit a Comprehensive Balanced Budget to the City Council at the first regularly scheduled meeting of the City Council in October of each year.
5.05 Budget content. The proposed Comprehensive Balanced Budget submitted to the City Council by the City Manager shall contain:
- Budget message. The City Manager shall prepare a budget message in writing that shall explain the proposed budget both fiscally and programmatically; outline proposed financial policies of the City for the ensuing fiscal year; describe important features of the budget; indicate any major changes from the current year’s budget; and summarize the City debt position and include such other material as the City Manager deems appropriate.
- Financial plan. The budget shall be accompanied by a preliminary financial plan to include all income and expenditures of all City funds projected monthly for the upcoming fiscal year.
- C. Comprehensive Balanced Budget. The Comprehensive Balanced Budget shall include the following:
- Operations Budget: proposed expenditures for current operations during the ensuing fiscal year, detailed by offices, departments, and agencies in terms of their respective work programs and functions.
- 2. Capital Budget: proposed capital projects recommended by the City Manager for the ensuing fiscal year. . No capital projects shall be recommended for the ensuing year that have not been included in the City’s approved six-year capital program. Capital projects shall be prioritized.
- Debt Service Budget: complete, comprehensive accounting of the total debt for which the City has any direct or indirect obligation. The budget shall itemize any new debt issuance planned for the ensuing fiscal year.
- Subsidiary budgets: each utility or entity owned or operated by the City shall provide detailed income and expenditure information appended to the Budget.
5.06 Public notice and hearings. Upon receipt of the proposed budget from the City Manager, the City Council shall publish in the official City newspaper or newspapers and on the City’s website or other appropriate media as designated by the City Council a summary of the budget and a notice stating:
- Times and places where copies of the budget message and Comprehensive Balanced Budget are available for inspection by the public.
- Time and place, not less than one week after such publication, for at least two public hearings on the proposed budgets, the first of which shall be held on or before November 1. The summary and notice shall be placed on file at the City Clerk’s office to be available for public review.
5.07 Budget adoption. In the period from November 1 through November 30, the City Council Finance Committee shall continue to review and adjust the proposed budget and shall hold the second public hearing after all adjustments have been agreed on. After public hearings, the Mayor, as Chair of the Finance Committee, shall certify that the total of proposed expenditures shall not exceed the total of estimated income in the Comprehensive Balanced Budget. Following the Mayor’s certification, the Finance Committee may recommend the budget to the City Council and the City Council may adopt the budget by resolution. In amending the budget, the City Council or the Finance Committee may add or increase programs or amounts, and may delete or decrease programs or amounts, except expenditures required by law, judgments against the City, or for debt service.
The City Council shall adopt the budget on or before November 30 each year. The total of proposed expenditures shall not exceed the total of estimated income in the budget adopted by the City Council. In the event that the City Council fails to adopt a budget by said date, the proposed Comprehensive Balanced Budget presented to the City Council by the City Manager shall become the budget for the ensuing fiscal year. Adoption of the budget shall constitute appropriations of the amounts specified therein as expenditures from funds indicated. The property tax therein proposed shall constitute the levy.
5.08 Budget Administration. On or before December 31 each year, the City Manager shall prepare the financial plan that shall project expenditures and income, month-by-month, for the entire fiscal year. Copies of the aforementioned plan shall be available to the public for review at the City Clerk’s office during normal business hours. The City Manager shall be responsible for administration of the City Budget to ensure, to the extent feasible, that the budget remains balanced throughout the fiscal year.
5.09 Maintaining a balanced budget. If at any time during the fiscal year it appears probable to the City Manager that ongoing costs and revenues available will result in budgetary imbalance, the City Manager shall report this to the City Council without delay. The City Manager shall indicate the estimated imbalance and any recommended remedial actions to be taken by the City Manager and/or the City Council. The City Council may, by resolution, reduce one or more appropriations so as to maintain budget balance.
5.10 Mid-year financial report. The City Manager shall submit to the City Council, a mid-year written financial report. The report shall include a comparison of estimated and actual income and expenditures to date. This report shall be forwarded to the City Clerk’s office and shall be available for public review.
5.11 Budget amendments. If, during the fiscal year, the City Manager certifies to the City Council that there are available for appropriations revenues in excess of those estimated in the budget, the City Council may make supplemental appropriations for the year, by resolution in an open public meeting and with written justification regarding the requested supplemental appropriation, up to the amount of monies the City Manager certifies available.
5.12 Emergency appropriations. To meet a public emergency affecting health, property, or public safety, the City Council may make emergency appropriations by unanimous action. If there are no available unappropriated revenues to meet such emergency, the City Council may, by emergency ordinance, authorize issuance of emergency notes that may be renewed from time to time. Emergency notes and renewals of any fiscal year shall not be paid later than the last day of the fiscal year succeeding that in which emergency appropriation was made.
5.13 Transfers of monies. Budget transfers of monies shall require certification of availability by the City Manager. Transfers of less than 10% of a budget line item do not require City Council approval. Those transfer requests that exceed 10% of the amount of a budget line item appropriation shall be accompanied by written explanation. Transfers for purposes of implementing contract agreements regarding personal services shall be permitted, notwithstanding the ten-percent limitation, on approval by the City Council. The City Council shall approve no transfer of monies from- or to- an account for payroll or employee benefits unless such transfer has been submitted and approved separately from other transfers. Transfer requests shall be submitted by the close of business on Thursday before the next City Council meeting. Those received afterwards will be reserved for the following meeting unless there is an emergency certified in writing by the City Manager. Transfer requests requiring City Council approval will be distributed prior to the meeting for review by the City Council.
5.14 Prohibited Payments. It shall not be lawful for any City employee or public official to incur or contract any expense or liability for or on behalf of the City, unless the City Council has made an appropriation concerning such expenses. No payment shall be made or obligation incurred against any allotment or appropriation except and unless the City Manager first certifies that sufficient funds are or will be available to cover the claim or meet the obligation when it becomes due and payable. Any authorization of payment or incurring of obligation in violation of the provisions of the Charter shall be void.
5.15 Capital Program.
The City Manager shall be responsible for preparing the City’s Six-Year Capital Program. It shall be submitted to the City Council for adoption no later than the first City Council meeting in May. The program shall consist of Capital projects and capital equipment, listed by Department and priority. (Listed in Appendix A.2)
- Six-year Capital program preparation. In preparing a proposed six-year capital program, the City Manager shall consult with the City Council.
- Six-Year Capital Program Presentation. On or before the first regularly scheduled City Council meeting in May each year, the City Manager shall present to the City Council and the public the proposed six-year Capital Program, highlighting capital requests for the upcoming fiscal year to be included in the City’s annual Capital Budget. Two public hearings shall be scheduled prior to the City Council’s final adoption of the six-year Capital Program. The City’s annual Capital Budget for each upcoming fiscal year shall be derived from projects included in the City’s adopted six-year Capital Program. The proposed Capital projects to be included in the City’s upcoming annual Capital Budget shall be available in writing in the City Clerk’s office at least five days prior to the public hearings.
- Six-Year Capital Program Adoption. The City Council shall adopt an updated six-year Capital Program annually. Two public hearings shall be held prior to final adoption. No capital project shall be authorized unless it is included in the Six-Year Capital Program adopted by the City Council. A capital project may be added or deleted at any time by affirmative vote of 5/7 of the City Council, only after public hearing and publication of information supporting the requested action.
- D. Annual Capital Budget. The City Manager shall incorporate Capital projects recommended for the ensuing budget into the City’s annual Capital Budget. Each capital project shall contain the following information:
- A description of the proposed project and its estimated total cost.
- The proposed means of financing, indicating the amount proposed to be financed by local taxes, and the amount, if any, estimated to be received from the Federal government, the State government, any other government, nongovernment or private entity, or any other source of funds procured for the project.
- The proposed method of financing, indicating the use of reserve funds, grants, transfers, current taxes, notes, bonds, or any other type of debt obligation or similar devices to be used to finance each project.
- The expected useful life of the capital project, the cost of annual maintenance and upkeep, and other expected operational and personnel-related costs.
- A general summary description of the project and comments and recommendations of any department, board, officer, or agency affected by the proposed project.
Section 5.16 Independent Annual Audit.
The city council shall provide for an independent annual audit of all city accounts and may provide for more frequent audits as it deems necessary. An independent certified public accountant or firm of such accountants shall make such audits. Such audits should be
performed in accordance with Generally Accepted Auditing Standards and Generally Accepted Governmental Auditing Standards. The annual audit shall be accompanied by a management letter and the city council shall coordinate a response, which shall be made available for public view not later than 45 business days after the issuance of the letter.
The Council shall designate no fewer than three of its members to serve as an Audit Committee. This Committee shall:
(1) Lead the process of selecting an independent auditor;
(2) Direct the work of the independent auditor as to the scope of the
annual audit and any matters of concern with respect to internal
(3) Receive the report of the independent auditor and present that report to the council with any recommendations from the Committee.
The council shall, using competitive bidding, designate such accountant or firm annually, or for a period not exceeding five years, but the designation for any particular fiscal year shall be made no later than 30 days after the beginning of such fiscal year. The standard for independence is that the auditor must be capable of exercising objective and impartial judgment on all issues encompassed within the audit engagement. No accountant or firm
may provide any other services to the city during the time it is retained to provide independent audits to the city. The city council may waive this requirement by a majority vote at a public hearing. If the state makes such an audit, the council may accept it as
satisfying the requirements of this section.
Section 5.17 Internal Audit.
The city council shall also be responsible for maintaining an internal audit function. A professional internal auditor may either be hired directly by the council or outsourced through a professional audit firm. The internal auditor will establish and execute a cycle of random financial and operational audits and report the results directly to the council. The council may also direct the internal auditor to examine areas where it may have financial or operational concerns.
5.18 Construction with NYS Local Finance Law.
Nothing contained herein shall prevent the City from providing from sums made available for such purposes, pursuant to the NYS Local Finance Law, for payment of any expense necessitated by casualty, accident, or unforeseen contingency arising after the budget is passed. This section shall not apply to- or limit authority conferred pursuant to- Local Finance Law for monies to be collected by special assessments for local improvements.
ELECTIONS and STAGGERED TERMS OF OFFICE
Elections for City offices positions shall be conducted in accordance with the New York State Election Law.
6.02. Staggered Terms
At the first election under this Charter, the Mayor and six Council Members shall be elected. The Mayor shall serve for a term of four years. The three Council Member candidates receiving the greatest number of votes shall serve for terms of four years, and the three Council Member candidates receiving the next greatest number of votes shall serve for terms of two years. Thereafter, the Mayor and all Council Members shall be elected for terms of four years. (For future elections: Head to head election? Or top vote-getters?) For future elections, each Council position shall be contested separately, with the ballot indicating “Council Member A”, “Council Member B” and “Council Member C” as the positions to be contested. The candidate receiving the greatest number of votes for each position shall be elected.
6.03. Term Limits.
- No Council Member shall serve more than three full, elected four-year terms of office, totaling twelve years, except as otherwise specified herein. Should an elector of the City be appointed by the City Council to fill a vacant City Council seat and subsequently win that City Council seat in a general election held pursuant to this paragraph, said member shall not serve longer than three full, elected four-year terms of office.
- No Mayor shall serve more than three full, elected four-year terms of office, totaling twelve years, except as otherwise specified herein.
TAX DISTRICTS; BONDING LIMITS; CONTRACTS; ASSESSMENTS, TAXES, AND USER FEES
7.01. Tax Districts.
The City shall consist of three separate tax districts designated as the City Tax District, the Inside Tax District, and the Outside Tax District.
- City Tax District. The City Tax District shall consist of all territory within the boundaries of the City as they may exist at any given time.
- Inside Tax District. The Inside Tax District shall consist of that portion of the City within the boundaries of the Village of Saratoga Springs as they existed in 1915, together with such other territory outside said village boundaries that may in the past have been added by law to the Inside Tax District or that may hereafter be added by law to the Inside Tax District. The territory now comprising the Inside Tax District shall comprise all of the land designated Inside Tax District as it exists at adoption of this Charter and any territory hereinafter duly designated by the City to become part thereof. The description of the Inside Tax District shall be set forth in the Administrative Code of the City.
- Outside Tax District. The Outside Tax District shall consist of all land within the City Tax District that is not included in Inside Tax District boundaries.
- Revision of tax districts. The City Council shall have the power to adopt local laws to modify the boundaries of the Inside Tax District and the Outside Tax District to include in the Inside Tax District described portions of the Outside Tax District. Each shall be contiguous with the then-existing Inside Tax District.
7.02. Limitation on Amount of Local Indebtedness Which May be Contracted.
The limitation on the amount of indebtedness which may be contracted by the City for any purpose or in any manner, including existing indebtedness, shall be determined pursuant to § 104.00 of the New York State Local Finance Law, except that such limitation shall not exceed 2% of the City’s average full valuation.
7.03. Limitations on amount to be raised by real estate taxes.
Notwithstanding the provisions of the New York State Constitution, Article VIII, § 10, the amount to be raised by tax on real estate in any fiscal year, in addition to providing for the interest on and the principal of all indebtedness, shall not exceed an amount equal to 1% of the average full valuation of taxable real estate in the City, reduced by the amount to be raised by tax on real estate in such year for payment of interest on and redemption of certificates or other evidence of indebtedness described in Subdivisions A and D of § 5 of Article VIII of the New York State Constitution, or renewals thereof. In all other respects, the provisions of the New York State Constitution, Article VIII, § 10, including the definition of “average full valuation,” shall remain in full force and effect. This law shall specifically exclude special assessment for specific purposes.
7.04. Apportionment of taxes.
- Inside Tax District apportionment. Except as herein provided, the Inside Tax District shall pay the expense, excluding administrative expense, of construction and maintenance of highways, public works, lands, buildings (except City Hall), lighting, fire and police protection, charity and health therein, and the expense of the waterworks, water carriers, sewers, and sewage disposal plant extending into the Outside Tax District.
- Outside Tax District apportionment. Except as herein provided, the Outside Tax District shall pay the expense, excluding administrative expense, of construction and maintenance of highways (except bridges having a span of five feet or more), charity, health, and schools therein.
- City Tax District apportionment. Except as herein provided, the City Tax District shall pay the expense, excluding administrative expense, of construction and maintenance of bridges in the Outside Tax District having a span of five feet or more, machinery and tolls for use in the Outside Tax District or removal of obstructions caused by snow, and of City Hall and all other City expenses not otherwise provided for.
- Administrative expenses. The administrative expenses of the City shall be apportioned by the City Council on the several tax districts according to benefits received therefrom as the City Council may from time to time determine, after publication of notice of hearing and a hearing thereon. When made, apportionment shall be the basis for subsequent levies until changed after a new hearing.
- Additional provisions. Notwithstanding any other provisions of this section or any other special act or local law, 1/2 the cost of street improvements shall be paid by the City Tax District, and 1/2 shall be paid by the Inside Tax District. One-half the cost of items associated with highways and highway miscellaneous shall be paid by the City Tax District, and 1/2 shall be paid by the Outside Tax District. Notwithstanding other provision of this section or other special act, ordinance, or local law, 3/4 the cost of fire and police protection shall be paid by the City Tax District.
- Highway districts. The Inside Tax District and the Outside Tax District shall be separate highway districts.
7.05. Public works and local improvements paid by tax.
The City Council may, with or without petition, order any public work or local improvement and provide for payment of such work by tax on the City Tax District or the Inside or Outside Tax District, or apportion it to two or more tax districts, as the City Council may determine.
7.06. Tax Collection
- Tax Payments. County and City taxes for the several tax districts shall be due and payable, without penalty, each year as follows: first quarter on or before March 1; second quarter on or before June 1; third quarter on or before September 1; fourth quarter on or before December 1. All school taxes shall be assessed, levied, and collected in the manner provided for in Education Law, Real Property Tax Law and other statutes made and provided.
- County and City taxes for the several tax districts shall be paid by times set forth, and received without penalty if paid within 30 days. Thereafter a penalty of 6% shall be imposed and added. Thereafter, an additional 1 1/2% per month up to a maximum of 15% per annum shall be imposed and added.
All water and sewer levies, assessments, and charges shall be paid by times set forth; such amounts so paid shall be received without penalty. If not paid on the due dates, a penalty of 6% shall be imposed. Any water and sewer levies, assessments, and charges unpaid after 90 days shall be added to the next quarterly assessments of water and sewer charges. Penalties of all outstanding balances shall be charged at the same percentage provided herein.
- Discounts. A discount of 2 1/4% shall be allowed for the payment of the four quarterly current City and county taxes on or before March 1 in each year; no other discount shall be allowed.
7.07. Water and sewer rates.
- For water and sewer usage, the City Council shall each year establish water and sewer rates, within the territory serviced by the waterworks and the sewer district, on properties therein, whether occupied or vacant, based on the amount of metered water used or usage as estimated or by other applicable charges.
- The City Council shall establish water and sewer rates in accordance with ordinances adopted under the laws of the State of New York made and provided. Payment of water and sewer charges shall be in accordance with ordinances adopted under the laws of the State of New York made and provided. The City may, within its discretion and from time to time, enact ordinances, regulations, and rules to establish water and sewer rates and other related charges and to set forth regulations, ordinances, rules, and obligations concerning water and sewer use.
- All water and sewer rates and related charges for water and sewer shall be the personal obligation of the landowner and/or buildings and the user thereof for charges related thereto. The land and/or buildings that receive water and sewer and that benefit therefrom shall be subject to a lien for any unpaid water and sewer bills and related charges. The City Manager shall establish this lien by preparing a statement, on or before December 1 each year, of all unpaid water and sewer and other related charges for that year. The City Manager shall cause a notice of the amount of this lien to be sent to the person in whose name the property is listed and that benefited from the water and sewer. The City Manager shall send such notice to the address listed. Delinquent sewer and water charges and related charges not paid by December 31 shall be levied as part of general real property tax collection; it shall be a lien and obligation thereon in the same manner and same force and effect as the general real property tax lien.
No contract for public work exceeding $20,000 and no purchase contract exceeding $10,000 shall be made, except as hereinafter provided, without a published notice inviting bids according to plans and specifications prepared by the department having the matter in charge and on file in the office of the City Manager.
All such contracts shall be let to the lowest responsible bidder who complies with specifications and furnishes satisfactory performance bonds.
The City Council may waive this section by an affirmative vote of five members.
7.09. Claims for damages; place of trial of actions; proceedings.
- Dangerous, defective conditions. No civil action shall be maintained against the City for damages or injuries to persons or property sustained in consequence of any street, highway, bridge, culvert, sidewalk, or crosswalk being out of repair, unsafe, dangerous, or obstructed, or in consequence of the existence of snow or ice thereon, unless written notice of the defective, unsafe, dangerous, or obstructed condition, or the existence of the snow or ice, was actually given to the City Manager and there was failure or neglect within a reasonable time after such notice to repair or remove the defect, danger, or obstruction complained of, or to cause snow and ice to be removed, or for the place to be made otherwise reasonably safe.
- Index record. The City shall keep an index record, in a separate book, of all written notices that it receives of the existence of such defective, unsafe, dangerous, or obstructed condition, or of such snow or ice. The record shall state the date of receipt of the notice, the nature and location of the condition stated to exist, and the name and address of the person from whom notice is received.
- Other claims; notice requirements, limitations, venue of actions. All claims against the City for damages or injuries to persons or property, or invasion of personal or property rights of every name and nature whatsoever shall be governed by the provisions of Article 4 of the General Municipal Law. The place of trial of all actions or proceedings against the City or its boards or officers shall be in the County of Saratoga.
- Compromise of claims. The City Council shall have the power to pay, compromise, or settle any such claim which may be made against the City for damages, provided such claim is presented within the time and in the manner prescribed in this Charter. The sum or sums so expended shall be included in the amount to be raised by tax for general purposes.
TRANSITION AND SEVERABILITY
8.01. Repeal of 2001 Charter.
The Charter of the City of Saratoga Springs, enacted in 2001 and as amended from time to time, is hereby repealed. All local laws, ordinances, and resolutions of the City Council and all regulations and bylaws of boards, commissions, or bodies of the City previously adopted and in effect as of the adoption of this Charter, including the City Code, shall continue in full force and effect, except to the extent that such local laws, ordinances, resolutions, regulations, and bylaws have been repealed, modified, or superseded in their application to the City by the adoption of this Charter.
8.02. Effective date of the Charter.
This local law shall become effective immediately upon approval by public referendum and filing with the Secretary of State in the manner provided by applicable law, The Mayor and City Council shall be elected at the general election of 2019, to assume office on January 1, 2020. An administrative code may be adopted and amended at any time subsequent to the approval and adoption of this Charter.
8.03. Civil Service Rights Continued; Status of Certain City Officers Previously Elected or Appointed.
The civil service status and rights of all City employees and their beneficiaries, including but not limited to those with respect to retirement and social security, shall not be affected by this Charter. Nothing contained in this Charter shall affect the term of office of any City officer or Member of any board or commission who shall have been elected or appointed prior to the effective date of this Charter.
8.04. Classified Service.
All positions in all departments and offices shall be in the classified service, except those held by the following: (i) elective public officers; (ii) department heads, their deputies and designated managers and confidential employees; and (iii) Members of all boards and commissions.
8.05. Departments, Offices, and Agencies.
- Transfer of Powers. If a City department, office or agency is abolished by this charter, the powers and duties given it by law shall be transferred to the City department, office or agency designated in this charter or, if the charter makes no provision, designated by the City Council.
- Property and Records. All property, records and equipment of any department, office or agency existing when this charter is adopted shall be transferred to the department, office or agency assuming its powers and duties, but, in the event that the powers or duties are to be discontinued or divided between units or in the event that any conflict arises regarding a transfer, such property, records or equipment shall be transferred to one or more departments, offices or agencies designated by the City Council in accordance with this charter.
8.06. Continuity of Authority; Completion of Unfinished Business.
The performance of functions pursuant to the provisions of this Charter shall be deemed to constitute a continuation of such functions for the purpose of succession to all rights, powers, duties and obligations attached to such functions. Proceedings or other business undertaken or commenced prior to the effective date of this Charter may be conducted and completed by the City officer or department responsible for such proceedings or other business under this Charter.
This Charter shall not be deemed to invalidate any obligations previously issued by the City or by any of its commissions, boards or agencies, and such obligations shall be and remain binding obligations of the City. In the event that any obligation shall have been issued in anticipation of the issuance of bonds by the City or by any of its commissions, boards or agencies, the City is hereby empowered to issue such bonds as legal and binding obligations of the City.
- irst Election. At the time of its adoption, this charter shall be in effect to the extent necessary in order that the first election of Members of the City Council may be conducted in accordance with the provisions of this charter and the State Election Law. The first election shall be held at the time of the General Election in November 2019. The then-serving Commissioner of Accounts shall prepare and adopt temporary regulations that are applicable only to the first election and designed to insure its proper conduct and to prevent fraud and provide for the proper counting of ballots.
- Time of Taking Full Effect. This charter shall be in full effect for all purposes on and after the date and time of the first meeting of the newly elected City Council as provided herein.
- First City Council Meeting. On the first day of January, 2020, following the first election of Council Members under this charter, the newly elected Members of the City Council shall meet at City Hall, 474 Broadway, Saratoga Springs:
- For the purpose of appointing or considering the appointment of a City Manager or acting City Manager, and choosing, as it may see fit, one of its Members to act as temporary clerk pending appointment of a City Clerk pursuant to Section 4.04; and
- For the purpose of adopting ordinances and resolutions necessary to effect the transition of government under this charter and to maintain effective government during that transition.
- Initial expenses. The initial expenses of the City Council under this Charter, including such expenses as may be incurred during 2019, such as the expense of recruiting a City Manager, shall be paid by the City on vouchers signed by the Mayor.
If part of any provision of this Charter shall be adjudged by any court of competent jurisdiction to be invalid, such adjudication shall not affect, impair or invalidate the remainder of such provision, but shall be confined in its operation to the clause, sentence, paragraph, section or article thereof directly involved in the proceeding in which such adjudication shall have been rendered.
8.09 Transition to the new Charter.
- Charter Transition Task Force. A Charter Transition Task Force shall be established not later than sixty (60) days after approval of the amended charter by the voters. The Charter Transition Task Force shall be comprised of nine members: five representatives appointed by the Mayor and one representative appointed by each of the four commissioners. The Charter Transition Task Force shall prepare a detailed work plan addressing, at a minimum the following transition issues: re-allocation of the specific duties of each commissioner and deputy commissioner to new or existing positions; establishment of recruitment and selection timetable for City Manager; recommendation of competitive salary ranges for the position of City Manager; recommendation to the City Council of amounts necessary to adequately fund reasonably foreseeable new positions in the fiscal year beginning January 1, 2020, and estimation of any other expenses necessary to include in the 2020 fiscal year budget to fund a smooth transition to the new Charter.
- Deputy Commissioners. The existing deputy commissioners or their designees shall continue to serve in their department management functions until the City Manager’s appointment is effective, at which time they shall serve at the pleasure of the City Manager. The Charter Transition Task Force shall recommend adequate funding of these positions in the 2020 fiscal year budget.