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Vote NO on the New Proposed Charter

Dear Friends,
As former members of the 2016-17 Charter Review Commission, we strongly urge a No vote on
this year's proposed changes to the Saratoga Springs' charter. The proposed charter was
developed with little input from the public, weakens the position of mayor, and does not separate
legislative responsibilities from administering laws. The Citizens of Saratoga Springs deserve
better government than this. The proposed charter is an inside job designed to serve the interests
of city council members who wrote it at the expense of the citizens.
There are two proposals on the ballot, and both merit No votes. A Yes vote is a vote for
unlimited City Council salaries, lack of management accountability, and more patronage and
self-dealing in city government. Vote NO!

1. The 2018 Charter Commission is the four city council members and their deputies and city
attorney. All are city employees. There were no private citizens on the Charter Review
Commission. There is not a single charter review commission in the history of Saratoga Springs
or New York that does not have any private citizens. It is a case of the “Fox Guarding the
Henhouse.” VOTE NO.
2. Saratoga Springs voters should not give City Council members a blank check to set their
own salary and benefits. Under the current charter, the existing salaries for the commissioner
and mayor are set at $14,500. The 2018 Charter Commission members removed those
constitutional salary limits. Under the proposed charter, the commissioners and mayors get to set
their own salary increases. This is bad public policy and government without oversight. Vote no.

The proposed charter has no limits on salary. Why? According to the Charter Commission
Chair, DeLeonardis said, "There is general consensus that the salaries are
inadequate". Similarly, the Council members and their deputies maintained the policy of council
members receiving taxpayer funded lifetime health benefits after serving 10 years in a part time
position. This new proposal adds fuel and incentives to runaway costs of our local
government. VOTE NO.

3. There are no savings, only increased costs. The official mission of the 2018 charter reform
was to find “organizational efficiencies”. Their own estimate of the potential savings of their
charter is $0. Moreover, their estimate does not include the $67,000 raise they gave
the commission chair and city attorney, Vince DeLeonardis, to go from 30 to 40 hours a week.
The new charter also does not include the significant salary increase of creating a Human
Resources Administrator in Title 10. VOTE NO.

4. The 2018 Commission is using taxpayer funds to run a political campaign to protect their
jobs. First, the 2018 Commission spent $7,500 of taxpayer dollars to Public Opinion Strategies,
a prominent Republican polling firm, in Alexandria, Virginia, that asked individuals what party
they belonged to and how they voted on the 2017 charter. Second, it used taxpayer funding
to send a political mailer to every voter in the city. The mailer does not even state that their
proposed charter would continue “the Commission Form of Government”. Why are they hiding
the truth? It is designed to confuse voters who supported the 2017 charter into voting for
the 2018 charter. The mailer never states the difference between the 2017 and 2018 proposed
charters. VOTE NO.

5. Saratoga Springs does not want a ceremonial mayor. The proposed charter would leave
Saratoga Springs with the weakest mayor in New York State. The mayor is stripped of their
appointment powers for the city attorney and land use boards. The Recreation Department is
taken from the Mayor and given to the Public Works Commissioner. The Mayor no longer has
the sole authority to give the State of the City Address or represent the city to the state. A weak
ceremonial mayor is not in the best in interests of Saratoga Springs. VOTE NO.
6. The proposed organizational changes are a recipe for confusion and diminished
accountability. Under the proposed charter, the City Attorney, Director of Risk and Safety,
Human Resources Director, and Information Technology Director are no longer accountable to
any of the elected commissioners, but to the City Council as a whole. Having five or seven
bosses means no one is responsible. Anyone who has worked in any sizable organization knows
that if you have five bosses, you really have no boss. When decisions are needed, only
dysfunction will ensue given this structure. Citizen access to these services will be limited, with
no elected official to turn to for help. VOTE NO.
7. Keep politics out of the Recreation Program. Giving the Public Works Commissioner
authority over the Recreation Department is likely to result in our children being an afterthought
and given low priority. The Public Works has more important responsibilities like maintaining
the city’s drinking water and city streets to be responsible for scheduling soccer games as well.
8. The proposed two city council members are “Junior Council” members. The second charter
states “they shall have no powers or authority to serve or act as administrators or directors of any
City department or entity. They shall not have deputies, but they shall be entitled to such
employees as the Council may determine.” There is not a single city in the history of the
commission form of government with additional council members that serve as legislators.

8. The proposed new two city council members are “Junior Council” members. The proposed
charter states “they shall have no powers or authority to serve or act as administrators or
directors of any City department or entity. They shall not have deputies, but they shall be entitled
to such employees as the Council may determine.” Why have two classes of council
members? The new proposal dilutes the authority of the mayor, adds two positions without the
same authorities as other commissioners, and allows commissioners to set their own salaries
shows us the real purpose of the proposed charter : to strengthen the existing commissioners
power and fill their pockets with more of our public funds. VOTE NO

By voting 'no' to the Charter referendums on November 6, Saratogians can reject this Inside Job.
They can demand a charter reform process that includes citizen input, instills checks and
balances to political power, and makes structural changes that modernize our government and
keep pace with our City's rapid growth. Fellow Saratogians: YOU DESERVE BETTER.

Bob Turner
Gordon Boyd
Laura Chodos
Beth Wurtmann
Minita Sanghvi
Jeff Altamari
Pat Kane
Ann Casey Bullock