SARATOGA SPRINGS — A proposed ordinance to adopt a new chapter of the City Code, entitled “Community Police Board,” was tabled by Public Safety Commissioner Robin Dalton at the meeting of the City Council on Oct. 19.
The proposal calls for the establishment of a five-member citizen board to act as a liaison between the community and the Police Department. Those five members would be chosen by each of the members of the City Council.
“We have received some really good feedback on it and there are some changes we will be making,” explained Commissioner Dalton.
In advance of the council meeting, Lexis Figuereo, a leader of Black Lives Matter Saratoga, spoke outside City Hall in opposition of the proposal as it currently stands, calling it lacking in substantive “teeth and power,” and citing a specific absence of subpoena powers and investigate powers as particularly troubling.
Later in the evening, the council unanimously approved a resolution set forth by Finance Commissioner Michele Madigan to establish a $250,000 “assignment” to fund recommendations and initiatives adopted by council in response to the Police Reform Task Force. An assignment is a set-aside of cash which the council can subsequently vote to bring into the budget and make available for use, Madigan explained. “We’ll work with the Police Department and the Commissioner of Public Safety to assist them with their needs as we start to cost things out from the Police Reform Task Force.”
Earlier this year, the council voted to adopt most, but not all of the 50-points of the plan submitted by the ad hoc Saratoga Springs Police Reform Task Force. It deemed the implementation of a Civilian Review Board, or CRB, as requiring further review. That review concluded late last month with an update regarding the formation of a potential city Civilian Review Board provided to the council by Jason Golub, who summarized: “I think there is plenty of evidence that a Civilian Review Board will add value to our community. I think it protects civilians, I think it protects police, I think it adds transparency and accountability.”
Golub said securing the support and involvement of police and political leaders, ensuring the board is comprised of credible and impartial members, and setting appropriate funding that would secure budgetary needs over multiple years.
*Cannabis Legislation: Cities in New York have until Dec. 31 to opt-out of potentially siting dispensaries, and/or on-site consumption facilities as it relates to a local cannabis industry in their respective communities.
To opt out, a Local Law would need to be adopted and public hearings held in advance of a Local Law, so any move to opt-out would need to be conducted sooner rather than later. Municipalities must opt out to not be a part of the measure moving forward. If interested in permitting marijuana retailers and/or social consumption sites, the city need not do anything.
Financial ramifications: a 4% local tax is to be imposed if the city allows the measure to move forward –3% would come to the city of Saratoga Springs, and 1% would go to the county.
The city is asking residents to weigh in, and city Attorney Vince DeLeonardis said while the city has thus far received only about a dozen comments, “of those comments we have received, I can indicate that a 3-to-1 margin were in favor of ultimately allowing dispensaries and on-site consumption facilities in the city of Saratoga Springs.”
• The first Public Hearing of the city’s 2022 proposed $54 million comprehensive budget was held Oct. 19. There were no public speakers. The council will continue to host budget workshops, and a second public hearing is anticipated to take place in November.
• Due to Election Day falling on Tuesday, Nov. 2, the next meeting of the City Council was moved and will take place Monday, Nov. 1.
• The council approved a resolution brought forward by Accounts Commissioner John Franck to extend temporary outdoor seating areas to Nov. 30, 2021. The current extension, approved on July 6, was due to expire Oct. 30.
• Resolution In Memory of William E. Benton III, a lifelong resident of Saratoga Springs who died on Oct. 12. “Billy’s sudden passing has brought great sadness to the many Saratogians who regarded him as a friend and colleague,” said Mayor Meg Kelly, who cited Benton as “a kind and generous man who loved his family, his friends, and his community. In one of his more recent contributions to our city, he brought his talent and knowledge to City Hall when it was threatened by water damage after a lightning strike. His quick action and organization helped to prevent further damage, and he made a critical difference in the preservation of this historic building.”
•Approval of Resolution Recommending the Saratoga Springs School District Rename the East Side Recreation Major Field in Honor of William J. McNeary, III. McNeary, who died in 2011, was remembered “for all the countless hours he spent improving facilities and raising funds so all youngsters could have the opportunity to participate in sporting events (his) time and energy is in evidence at the baseball diamonds in East Side Recreation Park (and his) dedicated service to his community make it fitting and appropriate for the City and School District to remember him and his family, to mark his passing and to honor his memory.”