Saratoga Springs Mayor Scott Johnson announced his intention to form a charter review committee two days before last week’s election. Some saw it as a cynical ploy to defuse support for the reform plan that was on the ballot, which ended up being soundly defeated, receiving only 43 per cent of the vote. For those who thought this was to be a meaningful exercise, the report in yesterday’s Saratogian about Johnson’s ideas must seem like pretty thin gruel.
He appears to only have two ideas. One is to permit subcontracting of some services such as human resources. The city already does that. The other is to require a vote of the City Council in order to approve the budget. Under the current charter, if there is not a majority, the budget originally proposed by the Commissioner of Finance is approved automatically. So the Mayor wants to replace a system that guarantees a budget with one where there could be endless gridlock.
While I am sure there are some changes that could make the current charter more effective, the Mayor’s inability to come up with anything more substantive than these two ideas is either appalling if you think that’s the best he can do, or insulting to those who actually relied on his plan for a review commission and accordingly voted against the plan that was on the ballot.