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Sunday, 29 November -0001 19:03

Last Call Change Sent to County

By | News

SARATOGA SPRINGS – Public Safety Commissioner Chris Mathiesen faced an uphill battle when he proposed the city change its last call hour from 4 a.m. to 3 a.m. Despite consistent and organized protest from bar and restaurant owners over the last few months, the Saratoga Springs City Council voted 3-1 June 5 in favor of the resolution. This does not, however, change anything right away. After a ruling earlier this month from the State Liquor Authority determined any change to the city’s last call hour would have to be applied to the entire county, the proposal will now go before the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors. If it passes there, the State Liquor Authority would then have the final say regarding last call in the county.


The vote was moved from last on the council’s agenda to first, which began with a brief video and slide show presentation from Mathiesen. The videos were shot during the late night hours by Mathiesen himself, featuring scenes of bar patrons and emergency service vehicles responding to various calls within a three block radius along Caroline Street. The presentation reiterated some of Mathiesen’s sticking points that there is a problem with the nightlife downtown, and to add perspective highlighted similar problems in places like Buffalo, Seattle and even Norway.

Only four members of the city council voted, as Mayor Scott Johnson recused himself due to his financial affiliation with two bars in the city. The lone dissenting vote belonged to Public Works Commissioner Skip Scirocco.

“Now it has to go to the county to make a decision, and I don’t want Saratoga County making any decisions for the city of Saratoga Springs,” said Scirocco. “I don’t think we should put our destiny in their hands. We should take care of our own destiny right here.”

When the presentation had concluded, the council discussed whether or not they should send the proposal to the county. Commissioner John Franck and Finance Commissioner Michele Madigan both agreed with the resolution, stating they felt the matter needs to be settled once and for all. The only way to see that a final decision is made, they argued, would be to pass the vote that evening and send it off to the county.

“The resolution you brought forth tonight versus the one from a few weeks ago is a little bit different, and it was basically asking us at the city level, that if the votes are here, whether we feel this is an important issue,” said Franck. “We cannot tell the county what to do; all we can do is request. I believe that’s what you’re asking here from my reading. I think everything is reasonable here and as I did in 2010, I will support this.”

Commissioner Madigan echoed those sentiments and explained that since Saratoga County and the State Liquor Authority will ultimately rule on the issue, she did not feel comfortable obstructing that decision.

“This is a divisive issue, there are people that feel very strongly on both sides,” said Madigan. “We know now from the declaratory statement that came down that this is the only way to get an answer to this question, one way or the other.”

The commissioners all seemed aware of the reality surrounding Saratoga Springs as a unique situation given the tourist season, but felt that they should not stand in the way of what would finally put this issue to rest.

“We’re a bar town; I grew up here. I’ve frequented bars many times and we have great situation here,” said Franck. “Because we’re no longer able to make this our own rule, we should ask our supervisors to go forward and look at it on their end and hopefully vote one way or the other.”

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