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Spa hiring freeze lacks support

A resolution to enact a hiring freeze in Saratoga Springs could not find a second at a Tuesday, Dec. 2, meeting of the City Council.

Finance Commissioner Kenneth Ivins proposed the resolution, which would make no immediate cuts but would require commissioners to examine the possibility of not filling positions in their departments if they become vacant. A commissioner looking to rehire in 2009 would have to prove to the council, by majority vote, that the hiring would be essential and the duties couldn't be handled by other staff.

It will highly likely be affecting my own office, due to retirements, said Ivins. "I brought this up due to comments made in the workshops and public sessions."

The rest of the Council did not act in support of the motion, though. Department of Public Works Commissioner Anthony Scirocco said that with a budget passed just a week ago, he would like more time before discussing his personnel.

"I need time to do what I need to do, given the fact I was hit hardest," he said, referring to the roughly $400,000 cut from his department in the 2009 budget.

Public Safety Commissioner Ron Kim suggested such a law would change the city charter. He added that the charter requires the council to make cuts when the finance commissioner discovers the city won't finish the year as budgeted.

"You have the authority to tell the council, stop the spending, make cuts and boom, we're off to the races," said Kim. "I think you've already got this power."

Ivins responded by saying he wants to avoid actual firings and not resort to "cutting by attrition."

"At that point, we are cutting real people and real jobs," he said.

Accounts Commissioner John Franck said that while the thrifty spirit of the resolution is what the taxpayers might be looking for, they would probably rather see it applied to holding off on proposing new jobs.

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