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Groups line up on opposite sides of charter proposal

The Charter Review Commission has submitted their proposed amendments to the City of Saratoga Springs City Council, while detractors prepare to battle the changes voters will consider on the Nov. 7 ballot.

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 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.

The charter revision process has not been without its critics. A group calling itself SUCCESS (Saratogians United to Continue the Charter Essential to Sustain our Success), with commissioners Thomas McTygue and John Franck as members, has plans to raise money to wage a campaign against the committee's proposal. SUCCESS has grown from 15 to 20 members to 60 to 70 members and has already received between $4,000 and $5,000 in donations, according to published reports.

SUCCESS member Gordon Boyd said the commission is merely a hired gun for the mayor. Speaking at a charter review commission meeting held the night before the proposal was submitted, Boyd said the commission's changes were preordained and "part and parcel of a railroad job."

"They are definitely following the mayor's directive," said Boyd, adding the commission's meetings themselves have been clandestine.

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