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Friday, 04 April 2014 10:19

Saratoga Springs City Council

By Arthur Gonick | Local News
SARATOGA SPRINGS – The Tuesday, April 1 meeting of the Saratoga Springs City Council was back in the regular meeting room, which was filled though not overflowing; the larger music hall upstairs was no longer necessary as the council and city moved into the post-casino era. Or did they? The formal release of the Request For Application (RFA) guidelines by the State Gaming Commission on Monday, March 31 contained a provision that any application must be accompanied by a local resolution, passed after this past Election day, that supports the application for it to be considered. The council clearly has not done this, passing instead a resolution that expressed concerns with several provisions of the Upstate Gaming Act. “I thought, with the resolution we had passed, that we had taken care of this issue,” said Commissioner of Public Works Anthony “Skip” Scirocco. Well, yes and no. If the council takes no further action to support the application by Saratoga Casino and Raceway (SCR) then the chances of the commission going against it’s own RFA guidelines are meager. Mayor Joanne Yepsen stated she has no plans to introduce any new gaming resolutions, stating that the one the council passed on March 4 reflected the majority of citizen’s sentiment. However, in theory, the council has the option of passing another resolution of support if it believes that SCR has addressed the numerous points of objection raised in the latest resolution to it’s satisfaction, including demonstrating overwhelming public support. The number of public commenters expressing the opinion that the council must ‘stay the course’ against expanded casino gaming were greater than all other issues that were raised combined. While thanking the council for their actions to date, the number of citizens who spoke against expanded gaming clearly indicated that they don’t regard this issue as a done deal. Nor do the pro-expanded gaming forces. While they opted not to speak, many members of the pro-expanded gaming group Destination Saratoga and other advocates for SCR’s application were seen in the gallery. You get to know who these people are—even if they are not in white or red shirts. And so, the game continues. But the highlight of this council meeting was about the process of inclusiveness - of bringing new citizen voices and perspectives into service to the city. Mayor Yepsen herself announced a total of 20 appointments to various committees, boards and authorities. She also that she would be forming a 9/11 Memorial Event Committee shortly. The Mayor announced the 15 members that she appointed to her newly formed Business Advisory Council, which she said was “by design a diverse and thoughtful group of business professionals who have already shown great enthusiasm for the mission of this council.” The appointees are: Alisa Dalton of The Dalton Law Firm Colleen Holmes of Wheatfields Restaurant Richard Ferguson of Saratoga National Bank Matt McCabe of Saratoga Guitar Harry Moran of Sustainable Saratoga and Sustainable Wealth Advisors Lu Lucas of The Adirondack Trust Company Lisa Schroder Bevis of Clotheshorse Mike DeAngeris of Embrace the Race Marlo Merrithew of Key Bank Richard Farrell of Saratoga Family Practice Pat McGowan of Informz Sharon Borgus of Fingerpaint This new committee will be charged with “advising our city government on issues pertaining to business and commerce, such as: streamlining communications between our business community and City Hall; eliminating unnecessary red tape and regulations; promoting sustainable, long-term growth consistent with the city’s comprehensive plan; and marketing our city’s cultural and economic assets more effectively.” Mayor Yepsen stated. To existing committees, the Mayor also made the following appointments: Board of Ethics Marilyn Rivers (a re-appointment, she is also the current Risk and Safety Manager for the city) Courtney DeLeonardis Brendan Chudy Preservation Foundation Elizabeth Israel Housing Authority Joanne Foresta Later, Commissioner of Accounts John Franck also got in appointment mode, naming four citizens to be Commissioners of Deeds – this is an officer that has authority to take affidavits, depositions, acknowledgments of deeds, etc., for use in the state by which the person is appointed. The office is similar to that of a Notary Public. The appointees were: Jonathan Van Wie Jenna Carson Gregory Lewis Wade Collins Otherwise the council meeting contained discussions of a wide variety of items. The impact of the state budget’s on-time passage, a budgeted increase in VLT (Video Lottery Terminal) money – Commissioner of Finance Michele Madigan noted that the city is slated to get an extra $498,000 over last year, while County Supervisor Matthew Veitch reported that Saratoga County will also get a $166,000 increase. The council also heard Commissioner of Public Safety Chris Mathiesen’s thoughts on the recent harness track fire, in which about 30 horses were rescued successfully in large part by his department’s quick and organized response. Finally, this reporter’s one-man permanent Committee on Wasting Council Time has awarded its prize of the evening to Commissioner Scirocco, who submitted his 2013 Department of Public Works Department Annual Report. The Commissioner chose to read a salient passage of the introduction into the record, which basically was a history of the city’s water works, presumably from the time of the Petrified Sea Gardens through the WPA in World War II and into the modern era. This, given the late hour, left both his fellow council members and the dwindling gallery absolutely spellbound.
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