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Troy Charter Change Review Process Underway

The city of Troy, New York is forging ahead with plans to review its charter for the 2015 election year.

The city’s charter hasn't been updated since its inception in 1973. Councilman Jim Gordon says alterations could modernize city government, find efficiencies and find cost savings to taxpayers.      "What a commission would do is review the entire city charter and make a recommendation that ultimately the voters of the city of Troy would vote on implementing."

Mayor Lou Rosamilia suggested a charter review commission in his 2014 State of the City speech, a proposal that fell by the wayside since. But this is an election year in the Collar City, and the "charter climate" has changed. This week, The City Council's Law Committee took up charter review - then - Rosamilia announced he has decided to appoint a nine-member, bipartisan charter review commission.       "He has offered the city council to recommend individuals to be appointed to that commission, up to four people, so the charter review commission is going to be moving forward in a collaborative effort between the city council and the administration, with the mayor taking point on its establishment."

The mayor’s commission takes precedent over any action the council takes.   Rosamilia has set a January 16 deadline for city council members to present him with their recommendations. A final list of panelists is set to be announced a week later, on the 23rd.    "He hopes to have the commission appointed and have it functioning in early February, and looks to have a product to present the voters via referendum this upcoming November on Election Day, and prior to that, host a series of public meetings and hearings to discuss what those alterations to the charter would be," said Gordon.

The commission will be tasked with conducting the public hearings. A final draft of the revised charter would need to be presented to the board of elections at least 60 days prior to election day.

Election Day just happens to be a bone of contention in the charter saga - both Council Member Gordon and former council member and 2011 Mayoral candidate Carmella Mantello have expressed interest in running for mayor this year.  Mantello says a similar scenario played out in 2008 between the mayor and city council, which voters nixed in the end. She believes the people of Troy should have their say as to whether or not citizens actually want a charter commission.    "Putting the whole charter commission idea in proposal, whether we have one or not, before the voters, is the true way to move forward.  I, as a voter, certainly don't want to see the charter commission used as a political pawn. I don't believe that politicians should be using a charter commission as an election day issue, being that this year the mayor and the full city council is up for either re-election or a new election. I'm curious of what changes the mayor and the council have in mind. We haven't heard why is the charter commission being proposed in an election year."

Mayor Lou Rosamilia's office did not return calls seeking an answer to  that particular question. There is speculation a new charter may abolish term limits.  Mantello adds  "If they're just looking to tinker the charter, you can do that via local law. So the question is, what major overhauls are needed in order to have a charter review commission."

Again, the ultimate decision is in the hands of voters:  they'd have to approve a referendum on charter review in November before any changes could be adopted.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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