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Spa City increases legal fees for DEC lawsuit

The Saratoga Springs City Council voted to increase the spending cap for the services of law firm Harris Beach for advisement given to the city on the matter of a Department of Environmental Conservation lawsuit to $60,000 at its Tuesday, May 5, meeting.

Mayor Scott Johnson said that the firm's work had been invaluable in protecting the city against the threat of DEC fines. The city settled with the DEC in January for $270,000 over alleged violations of state environmental law at the city's Department of Public Works garage and compost facility.

"It was much more involved that originally anticipatedto bring this matter to a complete resolution," said Johnson, who has maintained that the settlement reached with the DEC is preferable to the possibility of massive fines. The nearby Village of Stillwater was recently fined $758,000 by the DEC regarding alleged problems with water and sewer filtration systems.

The $50,000 budget increase passed in a split vote; Accounts Commissioner John Franck and Public Safety Commissioner Ron Kim dissented.

Kim claimed that his requests to review the bills for Harris Beach's work had not been fulfilled.

"They denied me," said Kim. "That's why I'm going to vote against this, because I don't know what I'm buying."

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