Saratoga Springs will spend $270,000 unbudgeted dollars to settle a lawsuit with the state Department of Environmental Conservation pertaining to alleged 2007 environmental violations in the city's Department of Public Works.
Most of the money, $185,000, will be allocated to developing environmental projects within the city and used to improve, restore, protect or reduce the risk to public health and the environment, Mayor Scott Johnson announced at a Tuesday, Jan. 6, meeting of the City Council.
The Council agreed to the settlement, which also includes a $50,000 civil penalty and $35,000 in administrative reimbursements to the state, during executive session as the least-risky option on the table.
"The city was faced with overwhelming evidence, quite frankly, that there was some issue to be dealt with," said Johnson.
He said that if the city had fought the charges, "we could be looking at fines in the multiple millions of dollars. It was a good business decision on the part of the city."
Commissioner of Public Safety Ron Kim abstained from the 4-to-0 vote, saying he was not prepared make a decision.
"I received this document around 3 [o'clock] today," he said. "I did not have the time to fully read or digest it."
The DEC was investigating two allegations environmental violations within the DPW that occurred during 2007. In February, there was a hydraulic fuel spill at the DPW's garage facility, and later in the year, it was said that city workers improperly disposed of human waste in the city's compost facility. In the election immediately following the scandal, voters chose current DPW Commissioner Anthony Scirocco over longtime incumbent Thomas McTygue.
"I'm certainly pleased with the outcome. This whole thing is a win-win for the city, and I'm glad the whole thing is behind us," said Scirocco at Tuesday's meeting, adding that the money to be invested in improvements could just as easily have become fines.