Government reform sparks debate

While Keehn said she did not front-load the commission with any one particular structure in mind, she is looking for a separation of administrative and legislative duties that the current form of government does not allow. Under the current system, elected officials also oversee their respective departments, such as finance, public safety and public works. The proposed model calls for a separate legislative body that would no longer be responsible for running day-to-day operations of various departments.

"The commissioners form is inefficient because each department operates independently," resident Shawn Thompson said.

Former Mayor Raymond Watkin and former finance commissioner Remigia Foy supported keeping the commission form of government at the Aug. 8 meeting. Foy noted the current system has served the city since 1915, and said any type of government is only as good as the people who comprise it.

Critics of the review commission maintain this is not the correct process nor the correct time to propose a change in government.

"There is no question that the (charter review commission's) time in this has been short, and I don't see how they have the time to do this without doing the taxpayers an injustice," said Commissioner of Public Works Thomas McTygue. "To be holding these meetings in August in Saratoga is no way to do business. People's minds are not on politics and not on changing the government."

McTygue said the commission should take the time to properly examine how any proposed change will affect the city's budget, and research what positions would need to be eliminated or created in order to facilitate the change.

McTygue also accuses Keehn of handing a mandate down to the commission to propose a government with a stronger mayoral position.

"This is truly one-sided," he said. "This is the mayor's commission, the mayor's mandate and the mayor's expediency in wanting to get this done."

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