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SARATOGA SPRINGS -- Local bar owners won't be changing their hours of operation anytime soon.

Members of the Saratoga Springs City Council, meeting on Tuesday night, failed to reach a consensus on a proposal that would have altered the city's statutory last call from 4 a.m. to 2 a.m.

With Mayor Scott Johnson abstaining because of a conflict of interest, the vote was split 2 to 2.

Three votes were needed to move forward with the measure, which would have also needed approval from the New York State Liquor Authority.

Accounts Commissioner John Franck, who first floated the idea in April, and Finance Commissioner Ken Ivins supported the measure, while Public Works Commissioners Anthony "Skip" Scirocco and Public Safety Commissioner Richard Wirth voted against it.

Scirocco and Wirth each said requiring the bars to stop serving earlier would limit the number of late-night, alcohol-fueled incidents in the city.

They also suggested it could cost the city tax revenue, hurt downtown businesses and push people to drive to neighboring communities where bars would remain open.

Scirocco also said Franck - despite showing statistics that city police responded to 865 calls downtown between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. last year, including a recent late-night hit-and-run fatality - had failed to show this was an issue worth addressing.

"You haven't identified that we have a big problem here," he said.

Franck countered many of the arguments made by Scirocco and Wirth, but also offered a compromise.

Instead of closing the bars at 2 a.m., he said, the city could close them at 3 a.m. and the law could be allowed to expire in a year if it was not having its intended impact.

Commissioners who opposed the 2 a.m. measure expressed limited support for the compromise measure, though, and no vote was taken on that proposal.

Franck said it is unlikely he will bring the issue up for a vote again unless he is certain it can win support, which he thought unlikely.

"I've compromised. I've done everything I can," he said as the nearly two-hour debate drew to a close. "It's going to be business against safety and that's the way it is."

The council's vote followed a 30-minute public hearing in which bar owners argued moving up the last call would cost their businesses and might force them to eliminate jobs.

Several residents also spoke out in favor of the measure during the hearing, however.

Among them was Jason Rossley, the brother of Ryan Rossley, who was killed in a hit-and-run at about 4 a.m. March 18 on Henry Street.

Police say a fight that preceded the hit-and-run originated downtown, as the bars were closing following St. Patrick's Day revelry.

Jason Rossley, of Glens Falls, said he hoped the measure would be passed so that other families would avoid facing similar tragedies.

"God forbid if this ever happens again, it's going to be on your plates," he said.


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