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Thursday, 03 October 2013 13:56

Saratoga Springs City Council: Budget and Beyond

By Arthur Gonick | News

SARATOGA SPRINGS – At the council meeting on Tuesday, October 1, the proposed 2014 comprehensive budget was detailed by Commissioner of Finance Michele Madigan.

The keywords comprehensive and detailed also described Madigan’s presentation message to the council and the packed chamber. The philosophical underpinnings behind the choices made (such as “a safe city is an economically viable city,” and “…decreasing the amount of fund balance used in the operating budget is an important step towards a sustainable government”) were explained before she itemized how she would effectuate those broad goals.

The bottom line for the taxpayer is this: a 0.68 percent increase in the property tax rate for 2014, or a $4.11 increase for a homeowner with an assessed value of $100,000.

The PowerPoint budget presentation is available on the finance department page on the city’s website. Visit www.saratoga-springs.org to access this. The first public hearing on the 2014 comprehensive budget is scheduled for Tuesday, October 15 at 6:45 p.m. Also, a number of budget workshops have been scheduled that will review the 2014 budget by department: 

·         Tuesday, October 8 at 1 p.m. – Mayor and Recreation Department

·         Thursday, October 10 at 6 p.m. –    Department of Public Works                                                                                                                                                                   and Capital Budget

·         Thursday, October 17 at noon- Finance and Accounts Departments

·         Wednesday, October 23 at 5:30 p.m. – Department of Public Safety

·         Tuesday, October 29 at 6:30 p.m. and Thursday, October 31 at 1 p.m. – General review

      The rumor that costumes will be optional at the last workshop could not be confirmed at press time. In any event, the entire council has until November 30 to pass or submit modifications to this comprehensive budget. By city charter, should the council not act by that time, the budget submitted by Madigan becomes the operating budget for 2014.

      In other council news:

Roll call votes unanimously passed two amendments to the 2013 Capital Budget. The first adopted the Safe Routes to School provision, which is eligible for complete reimbursement by NYS DOT and the second adopted a water treatment plant emergency generator to satisfy a state mandate.

Mayor Scott Johnson led a discussion and vote which serves to advance the adoption of the master plan and Phase I development for the Waterfront Park project. A public hearing on this has been set for 6:50 p.m. on October 15, prior to the next council meeting.

Accounts Commissioner John Franck sponsored a motion to merit for review to the city and county planning boards the proposed Beekman Street Art District zoning and map modifications. After some discussion as to how the filing fees (about $4,700) could be waived, city attorney Matt Dorsey clarified the matter and the motion passed unanimously.Franck also announced that the voting districts that had been at the Lincoln Baths at Spa State Park would be moving back to the Saratoga Springs City Center for the next election on November 5.

Mayor Johnson, on Public Safety Commissioner Mathiesen’s behalf, announced that a public safety forum on late night noise and other public safety issues will take place on Thursday, October 24 at 7 p.m. in the city council room

County Supervisor Matthew Veitch announced that the Saratoga County Office for the Aging will have a public hearing on Wednesday, November 13 from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Saratoga Springs Public Library. He also reviewed his experience from attending the recent New York State Association of Counties (NYSAC) conference, and noting that the county had received $13 million in capital requests, of which $11 million were adopted. The county pays for these capital projects out of the general fund, unlike the City of Saratoga Springs, so there was no bonding costs associated with them.

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