Saratoga Springs files lawsuit against civil service commission

The City of Saratoga Springs filed a Petition and Complaint in the New York Supreme Court, Saratoga County, on Wednesday, Sept. 15, that challenges the legality of recent actions taken by the Saratoga Springs Civil Service Commission in July that restricted the ability of the Building Department to issue building permits, essentially shutting down the department for a period of time.

Mayor Scott Johnson, as the appointing authority responsible for the Building Department, said in a release that the lawsuit seeks a declaration that the actions taken on July 19 by the Civil Service Commission are unlawful and should be declared null and void. The suit also seeks an injunction against the Commission in any attempt to enforce such restrictions by refusing to certify payroll of the affected employees.

I am the one with appointing authority, and as such I have certain rights that others do not have when it comes to personnel and effectuate change, said Johnson at an Aug. 3 City Council meeting. "The commission, on their own and without any request from my department or me personally, took actions."

At that same meeting, Johnson described the July actions, which essentially shut down the Building Department's ability to do business, as unlawful.

Johnson said that in July, the Civil Service Commission changed the job descriptions of two assistant building inspectors by deleting their authority to issue building permits. In doing so, it shut down the whole department until further action could be taken in a court of law or an appeal to a higher authority, like the state Civil Service Commission.

A representative for the Civil Service Commission said in response to the recent petition that the Commission had tried to work with the mayor, but because of pending litigation could not discuss the issue further. The Commission has retained a law firm pro bono.

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