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Letter: Why fix the Saratoga Springs charter if it isn’t broken?

Editor, The Spotlight:

This Nov. 6, we the citizens of Saratoga Springs are going to be asked to change the type of government we have used successfully since 1915.

A few people are advocating this change from our present commission form of government to a city manager form of government, which has been around since the 1920s, essentially making it not quite a more modern form of government as we have been led to believe.

The reasons for this change we are told are for more efficiency and potential savings in running our government. Usually a change in government is advocated for these reasons when a city is not doing well.

But, Saratoga Springs is a thriving city. We have just been named a city with one of the best downtowns in the USA by the respected American Planning Association. This year our Commissioner of Finance found a huge surplus. On Oct. 11, 2012 a headline in a local journal read “No Tax Hike For Spa City.”

Even if we changed our government with an eye on the future, the figures of this new proposed government do not add up to a savings. It will take us at least five years to realize the amount promised as a savings because of the transition to this government form. There are still many unknowns about the savings. The city manager will be hired for approximately $135,000. He or she, in turn, will be able to hire people to fill positions to help in carrying out his or her job. What salaries for these people? When the city manager asks for a raise, do we fire him because it goes over budget? By now we are well over the $26,000 savings that we won’t even realize for the first five years.

One of the reasons for our success in Saratoga Springs has been the accountability between our elected officials and the community, residents, and business. Our elected officials can be reached directly in need of help or even to give advice, ensuring that we are in keeping with a democratic process.

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