June 5, 2012
By Lucian McCarty
The Saratogian

SARATOGA SPRINGS — The City Council voted Tuesday night to send a resolution to the county urging them to restrict last call county-wide to 3 a.m.

The Council’s resolution essentially requested the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors, as legislative body with the sole authority to change last call in the county, to take up the issue.

If approved by the Board of Supervisors, the State Liquor Authority Board will ultimately decide whether to close bars in Saratoga County earlier. They have already ruled that the city cannot have a different last call than the rest of the county.

In a split decision, commissioners Michele Madigan, John Franck and Christian Mathiesen approved the resolution and Anthony “Skip” Scirocco voted against it. Mayor Scott Johnson recused himself from the vote because he has financial ties to two bars in the city.

Madigan said it is not up to the city to set last call. “I have no problem sending this to the county to decide,” she said.

All of the members of the City Council who voted on the resolution lauded recent efforts by city bar owners and the city’s Public Safety Department to address some of the issues downtown.

Earlier this year, city police, representatives from the Saratoga County District Attorney’s office and the New York State Liquor Authority met with bar and club owners in the city to go over laws requiring bouncers at bars to be certified security guards and for anyone serving alcohol to get Training for Intervention ProceedureS (TIPS) certified.

Since the meeting earlier this year most of the bars have sent their servers to be trained said Prevention Council Executive Director Heather Kisselback, whose organization administers the TIPS training.

She spoke in favor of a change in last call during public comment at the City Council meeting.

“It’s bigger than bar closing times,” she said. “I think it sends a strong message to the community that we’re really looking at the atmosphere and reputation of the town as a party town.”

Some people urged the City Council to vote the measure down, though.

Jeff Clark, president of the Downtown Business Association, said bars are not the only source of issues, pointing to Saratoga Performing Arts Center concerts, such as the Dave Matthews Band, which are “sources of hooligans.”

“Are we going to tell SPAC ‘You can only have chamber music?’” he asked.

With the resolution passed, the issue will now go the the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors to decide whether to restrict last-call county-wide.