Spa City charter referendum language finalized; outreach plans made

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SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y.>> The Saratoga Springs Charter Commission has formally adopted the language that will appear on November’s ballot and is making plans for community outreach for the vote.

The question on the Nov. 7 ballot will read: “Shall the new city charter proposed by the city charter commission be adopted?” The precise wording of the ballot question is governed by state municipal home rule.

The Charter Review Commission, as required by state law, had to submit the language to Commissioner of Accounts John Franck, who in turn submits it to the Saratoga County Board of Elections which is responsible for preparing the ballots.

A change in the city charter must be approved by voters in a referendum. There will also be three statewide referendums on the same ballot that will run alongside the city charter question.

Besides voting to put the referendum on the proposed charter before voters Nov. 7, the Charter Review Commission recently discussed its public education campaign for the fall.

State guidelines for changing charters suggest various methods of public education. Those include sending voters a narrative that spells out the main features and merits of the new charter and explain why each provision was proposed.

The commission decided to send out an informational mailing that will include a summary of the charter, a financial analysis and the full version of the charter to all voting households in the city.

“We want every citizen to have the opportunity to read the charter and educate themselves. The City Council in February unanimously allocated $20,000 for voter outreach,” said Commission Treasurer Gordon Boyd. “Reaching more than 10,000 households in the city, on a per household basis, $2 per household is not a great expense for something as fundamental to our future as the City Charter.”

The Charter Review Commission also discussed their plans for voter education.

“We want to talk with as many citizens as possible,” said Laura Chodos.

The commission has scheduled public forums on the charter at the Unitarian Church at noon on Sunday, Sept. 17, a League of Women Voters Meeting at the Saratoga Springs Public Library on Wednesday, September 21 at 7 p.m. and two “Meet a City Manager” nights on Mondays, Oct. 2 and 18. Details can be found on the Commission’s website at saratogacharter.com.

Those interested in learning more about the charter can invite a Charter Review Commission member to give a presentation, email questions to saratogaspringscharter@gmail.com, or follow the Saratoga Springs Charter Review Commission on Facebook.

http://www.saratogian.com/government-and-politics/20170828/spa-city-charter-referendum-language-finalized-outreach-plans-made