SARATOGA SPRINGS — The city’s proposed operating budget in 2017 will top $45.5 million – an approximate three percent increase over 2016 – but will contain no increase in taxes for city taxpayers, according to the proposal released by city Finance Commissioner Michele Madigan this week.
The $45.52 million plan marks an increase of $1.51 million over the 2016 budget, with contractual wages and health insurance accounting for nearly all of the change. Main revenue sources supporting the operating budget remain largely the same as 2016 - little to no increase is anticipated for sales tax, mortgage tax, state aid, or video-lottery terminal aid (VLT). VLT is budgeted about $498,000 higher than in years past to reflect the amount received for each of the past three years ($2.325 million).
“In the face of large and obligatory expense increases and otherwise flat revenues, this is not the year to leave money on the table,” Madigan said, in a statement.
The 2017 Budget counts both reserve funds and fund balance among its revenue resources. Amounts supporting the general operating budget include funds from unassigned fund balance ($541,000), the Retirement Reserve ($300,000) and the Tax Stabilization Reserve ($775,000).
“With no new revenue sources, little revenue growth, an almost 8 percent increase in health care costs, I can think of few better circumstances to use this reserve. It was created for this purpose. It is funded with taxpayer dollars. Taxpayers deserve to use their reserve rather than pay more taxes or receive diminished services,” Madigan said. The Council last month voted unanimously in favor of using up to about half of the reserve. This is the fifth city budget put forth by Madigan that contains virtually no increase in property tax and the 2017 budget year marks the sixth time municipalities are required to remain under the state property tax cap. Public budget workshops will take place: 1 p.m. on Wednesday Oct. 12; Wednesday, Oct. 19, and Monday, Oct. 24. A Public Comment period will also be provided during each workshop. The first of two public hearings will take place at 6:45 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 18. The council must adopt a budget by Nov. 30; if it doesn’t, the proposed comprehensive budget will become the 2017 adopted budget. The 2017 budget proposal can be viewed on the city’s website at www.saratoga-springs.org.
City Requests Resident Feedback For Open Space Plan
The city of Saratoga Springs is conducting a survey to update its Open Space Plan and asks residents to participate in a survey regarding their needs and concerns as it relates to open space and future open space planning. “Open Space” in the survey is defined as: public and privately-owned undeveloped lands which are important for a variety of reasons, including recreation, conservation, water resource protection, agriculture, forestry, or simply because of their scenic qualities and their contribution to the overall character of the town. To take the survey, go to: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/X62W7JX
Weibel Ave. Not What It Used To Be
“Weibel Avenue has changed dramatically. It’s no longer the rural road it used to be,” said Public Safety Commissioner Chris Mathiesen, referencing a plan to lower the speed limit from 40 to 30 mph on Weibel, from Lake Avenue to the city line on Louden Road. A public hearing regarding the proposal will take place Oct. 18 with a potential City Council vote to follow later in the evening.