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Spa City voters reject charter change proposal

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Albany/HV: Spa City voters reject charter change proposal
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For the second time in six years, Saratoga Springs voters said no on Election Night to a proposal to change the city's charter. YNN's Matt Hunter reports.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – “While the council manager plan as a proposal lost, democracy won," Brent Wilkes said.

One of the key figures behind the plan, Brent Wilkes was naturally disappointed Tuesday night when Spa City voters overwhelmingly rejected a proposal to change the city's charter, but he and other advocates for change believe a small victory was still won.

"We were able to get on the ballot and let the people decide whether or not they wanted to make a change in the form of government,” said Wilkes, who unsuccessfully ran for mayor last year. “So I feel very good about that."

Defeated by a 15 percent margin, the proposal would have replaced the city's current commissioner form of government, where four commissioners are elected and oversee their respective departments, with a city manager form, where city councilors serve only in a legislative capacity and a city manager runs the city's day-to-day operations.

"I think the results really speak volumes to the sentiment or lack of sentiment in our community to have a radical change in our form of government,” Mayor Scott Johnson said Wednesday. “That was shown by the margin of voting last night."

In 2006, voters defeated a similar plan to switch to a "strong mayor" form of government.

While he opposed the latest proposal, Johnson did announce last week he's forming a 15 member committee to explore ways to improve the city's current system.

“I'm not surprised at the outcome but there ways we can always improve how we actually deliver public services," Johnson said.

While charter reform advocates still believe the city's government needs drastic improvements, they do not foresee another attempt at changing the current model anytime soon.

"I think that the issue of the form of government in Saratoga Springs is probably put to bed until there is some sort of crisis, which precipitates people to want to look for change," Wilkes said.

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