My decision to support the proposed changes to the Saratoga Springs City Charter should come as no surprise to those even paying minimal attention to the goings-on within City Hall over the past several years.
What used to be a system of political checks and balances within city government no longer exists.
City Hall has morphed into a system of self-preservation among a three-person majority alliance on the City Council. The result has been a series of bad public policy decisions that have cost our city dearly.
Four years ago, it was the city water connection fee scandal, whereby this “working majority” simply protected the Department of Public Works commissioner in his hour of need when caught giving the store away.
Again, it was the public policy be “dammed” when it came to the city’s long-standing regulations requiring all developers to pay into a city fund designed to help with long term water infrastructure improvements.
One year later, it was the scheme to swap a downtown city-owned parking lot for construction of a new EMS station on the city’s eastern ridge. Even in the face of strong public criticism, it was the City Council’s sheer ambivalence toward good public policy that almost lost the city a key Broadway parking lot and with it nearly $700,000 in value. What proved to be salvation for the city and its taxpayers, last year the New York State Attorney General blocked the transaction as being illegal.
It’s time to turn the page and adopt a new City Charter for Saratoga Springs. Vote “yes” on the new mayor/ manager/ city council form of government.
Thomas G. McTygue
The writer is a former Saratoga Springs commissioner of public works.