According to the Times Union Commissioner of Accounts John Franck has stated he will refuse to have the city pay for a mailing the Charter Commission wants to send to Saratoga voters because it contains inaccurate fiscal projections.
State law says cities cannot interfere with the work of a charter commission and must supply the commission with public funds to complete their work and educate the public about their proposal. Public money cannot be spent on efforts to advocate for the passage of the charter, however.
Franck stated that the financial claims made by the commission are not credible. The Commission claims the major savings of changing to a city manager will come from eliminating four part time commissioners and five fulltime deputies and replacing them with one city manager.
“I’m a CPA by trade,” Franck said. “They want us to believe they will replace 18,000 working hours with one manager who will work 2,000 hours a year. It’s statistically impossible. If they come back with projections that are factual and truthful, I’ll sign off in five seconds.”
Some Charter Commission members have suggested department directors can pick up the work of the commissioners and the deputies but Franck disagreed pointing out that reassigning work will involve working with civil service and the unions.
“Other employees cannot absorb the work, and if they do, you’ll have to pay them,” Franck said. “It’s going to cost more. I’m telling you, I’m not paying for something that misrepresents the facts.”
Other criticisms of the Charter Commission’s financial analysis include the lack of any estimate of what the transition to the new government will cost and the omission of funding for such things included in the charter as an internal audit.
If the city refuses to pay for the mailing the Charter Commission wants to do, the mailing can be done anyway by using the private funds that they have raised and the Commission can try to sue the city after the fact to recover the funds.
The full article is behind a pay wall but some of you may be able to access it at http://www.timesunion.com/news/article/City-council-blocks-charter-review-commission-12225110.php?cmpid=twitter-desktop