With the elections less than two weeks away, representatives from both sides of the charter reform issue on this November’s ballot are gathering Thursday evening to discuss the amendment.
Saratoga Springs government currently operates under what is known as a city commission form of government. This form was first created in Galveston Texas following the Galveston Hurricane of 1900. The government structure was designed at that time so that government could respond quickly to the needs of the community, which was reeling following the natural disaster.
Galveston dropped that form of government just before Kennedy was elected president, and moved to a city manager form.
The group Saratoga Citizen has put forward a proposal that is on the November ballot as a local law. Under that proposal, Saratoga Springs would drop the commission form and also move to a council-manager form of government.
Under this proposal, city residents would elect a five-member city council that would include four council members and a mayor. This council would then hire a city manager who would control the day-to-day functioning of the city.
The current form of government has four commissioners, each of whom runs a major city department – public works, public safety, accounts and finance. A fifth person serves as mayor.
Under a city manager form of government, as it is proposed, the commissioners would no longer manage a department. Instead, the council would propose and enact legislation, as well as establish policy for the city. It would also adopt the budget that is prepared by the city manager, and a comprehensive land use plan, and “generally oversee the fundamental operations, finances and property of city government.”
The council would also hire the city manager, who would control the day-to-day aspects of governance.
A group known as SUCCESS, which stands for Saratogians United to Continue the Charter Essential to Saratoga’s Success, is lobbying to retain the current commissioner form of government.
Representatives from both SUCCESS and Saratoga Citizen will be on hand Thursday night at the High School for a forum. They will be discussing the proposed charter change, as well as answering some questions from the community.
The public is encouraged to attend.
The event, which begins at 7:30pm, is sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Saratoga County and Saratoga Wire. Dale Willman of Saratoga Wire will be moderating. The session will also be recorded, and the audio will be made available for listening on Saratoga Wire.
RSVP via Facebook here. And share it with anyone who might like to attend.
ON THE WIRE