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Sessions cover charter debate

Supporters and detractors of the movement to revise the city charter will be holding informational sessions on the issue as the Nov. 7 referendum draws near.

The 2006 Charter Revision Commission will hold four Get the Facts nights on the redrafted charter proposal. Meanwhile, Saratogians United to Continue the Charter Essential to Sustain Our Success (SUCCESS) has planned at least one "teach-in."

The Charter Revision Commission's held a session this week with others scheduled at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 12, and Wednesday, Oct. 25, in the Saratoga Springs Public Library's community room. A fourth session will be held 7 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 19, in the third-floor Music Hall in City Hall.

The "teach-in" sponsored by SUCCESS will be held from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Saratoga Springs Public Library's community room. Former mayors Raymond Watkin, J. Michael O'Connell and Kenneth Klotz will speak about the commission form of government.

Under the revised charter, the Department of Public Safety would be eliminated and, in its stead, the mayor would appoint a police chief and a fire chief. All of the other departments would be lumped together, save for the director of finance, who would remain separate, but would be renamed Comptroller.

Instead of the current five-member City Council with administrative leaders for each of the city's departments, the new format calls for five council members and a separate seat for the mayor. In the new form of government, the city's representatives to the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors would also sit on the Council and be able to vote, increasing the City Council to seven members. The mayor would also be given the power to veto Council decisions, and the mayoral term would be increased to four years, whereas the council members' term limits would remain two years.

Saratoga Springs has had a commission form of government since it was incorporated in 1915. All previous attempts to replace the commission form of government have been defeated.

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