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Displaying items by tag: charlie samuels

Friday, 23 October 2015 17:40

Mayor Joanne D. Yepsen, Running for Re-Election

SARATOGA SPRINGS – Joanne D. Yepsen, 56, (DEM, WF) is seeking a second term as Mayor of Saratoga Springs. We met for her interview in the Beekman Arts District, where it became clear that it was a favorite place because she had a history to tell of several of the buildings and businesses as we walked along the street. 

“I love the arts and this mixed-use district,” she said. “Everything about this section is a microcosm of our city history.” She recalled a cleanup party at 69 Beekman; noted Beekman Street Bistro as the city’s first farm-to-table restaurant; and spoke highly of the growth of the Textile Studio. She said she was proud of her contributions to the area and throughout the city during her time in public service. 

Among her accomplishments as mayor, she listed the resolution of labor contracts; ending homelessness for veterans in the city; preservation of the Pitney Farm; the first updated comprehensive plan in 14 years; opening the waterfront park and more. “What an amazing year, Centennial Year 2015,” Yepsen said. “Moving forward, we need to be really proactive regarding the economy. The Textile Studio is an example of the creative economy creating jobs, but we also have the performing arts, the high tech industry, hospitality and tourism, and encouraging the film industry here.”

If elected to another term, Yepsen also wants to – among other things – continue work on the greenbelt-downtown connector; increasing the city’s walkable and bikeable status; and start to do a full Complete Street plan. Yepsen prioritizes the “city in the country” theme, and is seeking to balance City Center parking needs with potential mixed-use proposals, such as workforce housing.

For the golf resort proposal by Saratoga National, she said she is seeking a “full conservation easement assurances, assurances that the greenbelt trail will be built on the property, nothing short of a 3,000 foot setback, and minimum of 90 percent open space preserved.” 

She said the applicant keeps changing the proposal, but she wants to work with them because she doesn’t want to see the property sold and turned into 40 houses. “To me, that’s sprawl,” Yepsen said. “There’s going to have to be some very tight clustering to keep as much green space as possible. We’ll be working with the special assessment district and downtown businesses – which are our staple – because we can’t have retail and commercial sprawl there, either. We have to be careful not to set precedents and look at the overall plan.”

 

For Yepsen’s biographical information and endorsements, please visit LWVSaratoga.org

Published in News
Friday, 23 October 2015 17:32

John F. Safford, 2015 Mayoral Candidate

SARATOGA SPRINGS – John F. Safford, 70, (REP, CON, IND, RFM) Professional Managing Agent, CMCA, is a newcomer to politics, seeking the office of Mayor of Saratoga Springs as his first run. For his interview, we met at the beautiful grounds of the Pine Grove Family Camp, one of his favorite places in Saratoga, where he is a trustee and treasurer. 

“I love this place,” he said. “We fight to keep this camp viable, as pristine as possible. I am a peaceful person, and although I work on real issues, I am still peaceful inside and this place reminds me of that. I love that in Saratoga we have open space and beautiful trees like this, but we need a balance between our ecological goals and property rights. We need to continue our growth as a year-round destination and place to live.”

Safford’s military service included a stint in Japan in the Army Security Agency, where he worked on security and information. “Yes, I was a spy,” he said. After his honorable discharge in 1973, that experience informed his business career, where he developed further expertise in computers and information technology, applying it to emergency services for municipalities, among other things. 

“I have been in every emergency service bunker in the state,” Safford said. This peaceful person has decades of experience in helping cities and towns of all sizes plan for the worst. Given that, a logical question was why run for mayor rather than public safety commissioner? 

“My strongest gift is being able to pull different departments and agencies together,” he said, “which is vital to emergency planning, but especially needed as a mayor. My work has involved finance and budgeting, public works, and public safety, and I can bring people together to get things done. I think the mayor’s role is where I can do the most good for Saratoga Springs.”

Safford also feels his business experience will help Saratoga’s economic vitality. If elected, he intends to plan for responsible growth, providing quicker turnaround for permitting and doing more for entrepreneurs and business owners. “The Mayor’s department has a fund that most people are not aware of,” he said. “The capital improvement loan capability of the office of economic development is not used properly. It’s very difficult for business owners to spend time searching for capital, and those with capital think businesses will come to them. I can put those two together.”

Safford’s goals also include improving parking and infrastructure, improving communication between departments, and enhancing downtown safety and quality of life. He supports parking over mixed-use for the High Rock lot because the demand for parking for existing businesses in the area in addition to the City Center’s needs is higher than the need for senior or other housing and businesses in that particular location. He also supports a golf resort at Saratoga National. 

 

For Safford’s biographical information and endorsements, please visit LWVSaratoga.org

Published in News
Thursday, 22 October 2015 10:38

City Council Approves PBA Contract

SARATOGA SPRINGS – At the Saratoga Springs City Council meeting on Tuesday, October 20, the council unanimously approved a 5-year contract with the Police Benevolent Association (PBA). The contract is for 5 years, retroactive to 2013. 

 

The PBA agreement calls for an 11.5 percent pay increase over the 5-year term: a 3 percent increase for 2013 (effective mid-year); 2.5 percent for 2014; and 2 percent for each of the years 2015-17. The PBA contract will save about $92,000 by the elimination of one (the most expensive) health insurance option, and save about $25,000 by increasing the annual individual contribution level from $1,000 to $1,500. 

 

Commissioner of Finance Michele Madigan stated that she had prepared for a contract settlement by setting up reserve accounts that would cover the required retroactive pay, and that the necessary adjustments for the coming year’s budget (estimated at $490-580,000) would be able to be made without impacting the stable tax rate she had proposed in the 2016 Comprehensive Budget message on October 6. There might be some impact on some expense lines as a result, though Madigan regarded these as minimal. 

 

Mayor Joanne Yepsen noted that this was the fifth of seven open contracts that had been settled since she took office. Currently, the fire chiefs’ and firefighters’ contracts remain to be settled. 

 

In other Council News:

 

  • Mayor Yepsen appointed Tamara Tepper and re-appointed Andrew Jarosh to the Community Development Citizen Advisory Committee.
  • A 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War Commemoration Event was approved. It will be at the Saratoga Springs City Center on Saturday, November 21.
  • Appointments by each Council member to a High Rock parking lot technical review committee were requested by Wednesday, October 21 - with a goal to have each respondent to the RFP appear before the Council on November 9-10.
  • A second public hearing on the 2016 Budget was set for Monday, November 2 at 6:50 p.m. before the next City Council meeting. This public hearing will remain open until a budget is passed. 
  • Commissioner Madigan delivered a third-quarter financial report. Details are on the city’s website: saratoga-springs.org 
  • Commissioner of Public Safety Chris Mathiesen reported that an RFP went out for firms to examine and make recommendations to improve pedestrian safety at city intersections. Responses are due by November 12. 
Published in News
Friday, 16 October 2015 08:50

Meet St. Paul's New Pastor

SARATOGA SPRINGS — St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church recently welcomed its new associate pastor, Rev. Ethan Luhman. Luhman was ordained at the church mid-August after moving to Saratoga Springs with his family from the Midwest. Though he is only 26, Luhman possesses a humble wisdom that makes him seem like an old soul.

Growing up in a rural, farming community in a small town near Madison, Wisconsin, Luhman spent a lot of time outdoors in the country. He enjoyed the small town culture, something he also likes about Saratoga.

“I went to a small high school in a town where everyone knows everyone,” said Luhman, who graduated with less than 50 other students. “I appreciate that Saratoga isn’t so large you can’t know everyone and get to know people. We are overwhelmed by how great the community is here.”

Luhman has been part of the Lutheran church his entire life. His father, a district attorney, was involved in the church, teaching bible study and Sunday school. The church that Luhman and his family attended was built by his great-great-grandfather, a Norwegian immigrant. The church still stands today, and remains in the middle of a huge cornfield.

After graduating from high school as valedictorian, Luhman was set on going to college but wasn’t yet sure what he truly wanted to do. He initially considered the medical field.

“I was a biology major at first, but one day my pastor asked, ‘Have you ever thought about being a pastor?’ When you think about careers, you don’t think of ‘pastor’ as one of them,” said Luhman. “But then I started thinking about my own gifts and my abilities. I want to help people and I want to be able to use the gifts God has given me to be among His people.”

“I thought about being a chiropractor, a healer of the body, but I was like well, I will work at being a healer of souls,” Luhman said lightheartedly.  

Luhman attended Concordia University in Mequon, Wisconsin, where he immediately changed his major to theology. While in college, Luhman learned to read ancient Greek and Hebrew, and had the opportunity to get involved in a number of ministries. When he was a sophomore, he started a tutoring program in inner city Milwaukee.

“That really expanded my experience because I came from a rural community, and now I was in an urban environment with a diverse group of people. I had a heart for them. It let me know how big the kingdom of God is. It includes people all over the world, people who don’t always look like me,” reflected Luhman.

After college, Luhman attended Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri, where he met men who were like-minded and on the same journey. He also learned a lot about his passions and what his strengths are.

“I learned to be a better listener. So often we get caught up talking or thinking that we understand what someone is saying, but to take the time to really give them the space to express themselves and be open, it can be a very healing thing. It is empowering to be heard,” said Luhman.

Luhman met his wife, Sherry, in his last semester of college while on a mission trip to Mexico to build houses. After dating for eight months and a brief engagement, they got married in 2012. Shortly after, they had their first son, Abram, who is now almost 3. Two weeks before arriving in Saratoga Springs, Luhman’s wife gave birth to their second son, Owain. His family has been by his side through seminary school, his ordination and now, his first placement as a pastor.

A group of pastors that oversee different areas across the country decided where Luhman would be placed. They decided the right fit for him is here in Saratoga Springs.

“We were ready for an adventure,” said Luhman.

St. Paul’s had been waiting for another pastor for five years, making Luhman’s arrival that much more significant and timely. Luhman works with head pastor, Rev. Adam Wiegand to help lead church service, teach bible studies and help with the church’s youth services.

“I’m excited to be a witness for Jesus here and to reach out to the community. I want to be there for the people. That’s why I became a pastor, to be with people and to be a guide of sorts,” said Luhman. “What brings me joy is being a part of and leading a community of people that are focused on serving Jesus in their lives.”

Luhman’s daily life as the new associate pastor consists of a lot of catching up and getting familiar with the church’s programs. He meets with members of his congregation, helps with the church’s preschool and visits Saratoga Hospital regularly to meet with patients.

When he is not at St. Paul’s, Luhman is busy being a dad to two small boys. He enjoys taking his son, Abram, to the library and to Congress Park to feed the ducks. The family also recently went apple and pumpkin picking at Saratoga Apple.

Luhman adds with a smile, “We can’t imagine a better community to be a part of. We don’t have plans of leaving anytime soon.”

Published in News
Thursday, 15 October 2015 11:27

Off To Austria!

Saratoga Springs HS Freshman Hugh Dempsey Named To International Children’s Games in Innsbruck this January

SARATOGA SPRINGS – Fourteen-year old Hugh Dempsey has received a big honor – one might say, an honor of Olympic proportions! Hugh, a ninth grade student at Saratoga Springs High School (SSHS), will be part of a team from the Lake Placid/Adirondack region that will venture to Innsbruck, Austria next January, to participate in the 2016 Winter International Children’s Games (ICG). 

 

This will be the first time the Lake Placid area will be sending a team to the games, which draws delegations from as far away as China, South Korea and Australia in addition to several other locales in Europe and North America. Innsbruck will host the seventh winter ICG, which has been held since 1994. Hugh will be a member of the Team Lake Placid’s Alpine Skiing team. This major multi-sport event is designed for children aged 13 to 15 years. Other sports in the games include freestyle and cross-country skiing, and speed skating. 

 

Hugh, who will be joining the SSHS varsity alpine skiing team when it begins it season next month, has been a member of teams from the New York State Educational Foundation (NYSEF) for several years. Hugh was grateful to his Coach, John Norton and other NYSEF coaches who nominated him for the Lake Placid squad last May, and to Lake Placid’s Mayor, Craig Randall, for the vision to start a Lake Placid team. 

 

He and his teammates’ expenses will be fully funded for the trip to Innsbruck, Austria. All travel-related expenses will be paid by the Henry Uihlein II and Mildred A. Uihlein Foundation; lodging and meals while in Innsbruck will be covered by the Innsbruck 2016 Organizing Committee; and the travel will be arranged by NYSEF.

 

When he learned that he had been selected, “It didn’t sink in for a couple of days,” Hugh said, “but in addition to being very glad, I felt lucky and honored. It’s really flattering to be chosen for the first Lake Placid team.” It will be Hugh’s first time visiting Austria, but at a relatively young age he is no stranger to travelling. He has already participated in tournaments with NYSEF teams, competing at Mont Tremblant, Quebec for CAN-AM events, and at Copper Mountain, Colorado, where he will be returning next December. 

 

Hugh’s favorite subject in school is global history, which has him excited about the other athletes from all over the globe he will meet in Innsbruck, “I like learning about other cultures and people,” Hugh said. When asked about the challenges of balancing schoolwork while competing in tournaments that might cross several time zones, he said, “I actually did better academically – the NYSEF coaches are very helpful in making sure we keep up with our homework.” 

 

When not skiing, Hugh keeps his condition and stamina strong as a member of the Freshman Soccer team at SSHS, where he mostly plays forward, as well as by mountain biking and running. He keeps his mind sharp by playing Monopoly with his sisters, Norah (12) and Cara (8), and probably both in top form, as well as dexterity, by playing the piano, which he has done since age 6. He credits his parents, Jenn and Steve, for instilling a love for both skiing and music in him at a young age. 

 

In the interests of journalistic research, I requested he give me a go-round across the ivories, and I have to say I was pretty impressed. But not surprised – you come away with the impression that Hugh can pretty much do what he sets his mind to do.  And putting journalistic objectivity aside, Hugh Dempsey is just a likable young man who makes it very easy to root for him.

 

He would like to continue his skiing career in the college ranks and beyond. So, are we going to see him on the Olympic medal stand some day? 

 

“I’m going to take this as far as I can.” Hugh said.  

 

To learn more about the International Children’s Games, visit www.innsbruck2016.com. Visit www.nysef.org for further information about the New York State Educational Foundation.

Published in News
Tuesday, 13 October 2015 13:13

Students Learn From Golf Resort Debate

by Jack Rosen

for Saratoga TODAY

 

SARATOGA SPRINGS – While many wonder what will be the fate of the proposed expansion of Saratoga National into a golf resort, one group is using the debate as a learning experience. Skidmore College Professor Robert Turner took his Real Democracy class to a recent Saratoga Springs City Council public hearing regarding an aspect of the expansion to survey the attendees and learn their views on the proposal. 

 

The point of Turner’s lesson was, as he put it, “to show the students how public meetings are dominated by purists who feel strongly about the issues rather than moderates or centrists.”

 

To confirm the theory, Professor Turner came up with a series of questions, to which he received responses from 90 attendees. While some questions were to find out demographic data about attendees, others were to determine how involved they were in City Council matters. 

 

The findings pointed to a deep division of opinion among attendees – with respondents’ views typically corresponding to their political orientation. Whereas Turner found that approximately 60 percent of attendees who identified as members of the Democratic Party strongly agreed the expansion would undermine the 'City in the Country' character, less than 15 percent of Republican respondents held such a view. Conversely, while a majority of Republican respondents strongly agreed the proposal offered a balanced approach, a near equal percentage of Democrats strongly disagreed.

 

Turner’s findings, as he himself noted, must be taken with a grain of salt. He cautioned that the survey results were representative of those in the room and not necessarily those in the City of Saratoga at large. That is because, as his survey confirmed, the vast majority of attendees were those with the strongest views on issues. 

 

Over 80 percent of respondents had been to at least one previous City Council meeting that year. In fact, among those respondents nearly half had been to six or more meetings this year alone. These findings support the notion that those who attend City Council meetings are those who feel the most impassioned about the issues being addressed. 

 

The survey also suggests that those attending the meetings have strong stakes in the fate of the community. The average respondent had spent 24.9 years living in Saratoga. 

 

“As a liberal, what I'm learning in the class is challenging my worldview a bit...it's not just business versus everyone else,” said Luca Mobilia, a junior at Skidmore College who helped administer the survey. Mobilia also noted that he hoped to apply what he learned in the class should he himself enter politics. 

 

Zach Lachman, a senior at Skidmore College, said he hoped he "would be able to use that knowledge for myself when I find a place to settle down. I think knowing how one's local democracy functions is very useful for anyone who is looking to settle down and stay somewhere for a while."

 

When asked if he had any advice for anyone who felt strongly one way or the other on an issue of local government, such as the proposed expansion of Saratoga National, Lachman offered simply, “Go to a city council meeting and be sure to register and vote.” 

Published in News
Thursday, 08 October 2015 12:06

Rotary Brunch Fundraiser Honors Community Leaders

SARATOGA SPRINGS – The sixteenth annual Community Service Awards Brunch hosted by the Saratoga Springs Rotary Club took place Sunday, October 4 at the Saratoga Springs City Center.

The brunch was a fundraiser for the Saratoga Springs Rotary Education Foundation. The mission of the foundation is to assist students from the greater Saratoga community to advance their education and training by raising and managing funds in support of scholarships and general educational needs. In June, $53,000 in scholarships was awarded to 12 local students.

The fundraising brunch featured a silent auction, food donated by Longfellows restaurant, as well as musical performances by the chorus group “Dynamics” from Skidmore College.

Philip W. Klein and Reverend Jay and Judy Ekman were honored for their humanitarian services in the community.

Klein is currently vice president at Adirondack Trust Insurance in Saratoga Springs. He has lived in Saratoga Springs for more than 35 years and spent 18 of them as a supervisor for the City of Saratoga Springs. He also served as past chair of Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce, past board member of Saratoga Care, and past president for Saratoga YMCA. He is the current chairman of The Wesley Foundation and sits on the Saratoga Springs Planning Board.

When he was accepting his speech, he mentioned how he felt the most reward working with the board at Saratoga Hospital. “They have experienced well-paced growth, and medical care is of the utmost importance,” Klein said.

Klein inspired the crowd at the end of his speech by saying, “Volunteer. It’s good for you.”

Reverend Jay and Judy Ekman have been married for almost 50 years. Together they helped start the Rural Food Delivery Program and have been involved in youth-centered activities for many years. Judy helped start the Child Abuse Task Force (now the Center for the Family), while Jay chaired OASIS, a drug counselling effort. They both have organized many interfaith activities over the years in the community.

“If you’re trying to make the world a better place, going at it alone is not an option,” said Judy Ekman.

In regards to his wife, Jay Ekman said, “We have a shared purpose and a shared memory.”

For more information about the Saratoga Spring Rotary Education Foundation, visit saratogaspringsscholarships.org. 

Published in News

SARATOGA SPRINGS – Domestic violence is the number two violent crime in Saratoga County, the primary cause of family homelessness, and one of the top two causes of homicide. In fact, from 2010 to 2013, 100 percent of homicides in Saratoga County were because of domestic violence.

According to Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, one in four women and one in seven men will be the victim of domestic violence at some point in their life. As October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, it is key to look at the statistics and learn about how domestic abuse affects our loved ones, our society and even ourselves.

Wellspring is a fully comprehensive relationship and sexual abuse service for Saratoga County. Previously called Domestic Violence and Rape Crisis Services for Saratoga County (DVRC), Wellspring helps victims of domestic violence, while simultaneously providing prevention education for the community.

“We have so many services that can help people before a crisis and that can avert a crisis,” said Maggie Fronk, the Executive Director of Wellspring for the past 14 years. “With our other name, it said “crisis” so many people didn’t think they could come in until after the crisis. Wellspring is really promoting all of the things we do to help people be safe, and ultimately, avoid that crisis.”

The vision for Wellspring is a Saratoga County free of abuse, and awareness is vital to that vision. Domestic violence is more prevalent in the community than anyone realizes, and it’s much more than physical abuse. Domestic violence can manifest as emotional abuse, sexual abuse, isolation, economic abuse and psychological abuse. These many forms of domestic violence often occur together.

“I think one of the biggest myths is that domestic violence is only physical. It can be, yet there can be highly abusive relationships that have no physical abuse at all,” said Fronk.

A stereotype exists that domestic violence only happens to certain people. In reality, all socio-economic groups, all races, all religions and all genders are affected by domestic violence. According to Fronk, this stereotype may exist because domestic violence is a crime that happens in the home, outside of public view.

It is never easy to make the first step in reaching out for help, but Wellspring tries to make it uncomplicated and nonintimidating.

“Just call and make an appointment, or if need be, just walk in the door. All our services are free and confidential,” said Fronk. “We respond to what your needs are. One person might come in and be ready to leave the abuse, go to a shelter and get an order of protection. Another person may just want to talk about what’s happening and find out if it is an abusive relationship. It is driven by the needs of whoever is walking in our door for help.”

Helping over 1,000 people per year, Wellspring prioritizes what each individual needs and wants at that time, acknowledging that it is different for everyone. No one is going to be rushed to leave their abuser or pressured into steps they are not ready for. The only commonality for everyone is that they are going to be talked to about safety options, so they can be safe with whatever choice they make. There will be customized, individualized safety planning for anyone who comes into Wellspring.

One anonymous survivor who has been helped by Wellspring said, “[Wellspring] supported me and helped me when I was going through a very tough moment in my life. They were there for me when I needed someone to talk to, to advise me how to get help, supporting me during the court days. The staff was also always nice and helpful with my son. They made our stay as easy as possible. They supported us with summer camp for day care when I could not afford it so I could keep working.”

The array of services Wellsprings provides is vast. Whether someone needs counseling, legal counseling or case management, the resources are available. There are even advocates that can accompany victims to the police or to court.

Financial security is a terrifying thought for many who want to leave a violent relationship. Victims are afraid they won’t be able to support themselves and their children after leaving their abuser. Wellspring offers an eight-week financial literacy program that covers everything from knowing your assets and rights with money, to budgeting, to getting a job and growing in that career. It also helps people apply for public assistance, such as SNAP, for temporarily relief during a difficult period to get survivors back on their feet.

Wellspring has shelter and housing opportunities readily accessible. The shelter is in an undisclosed location in the county, ensuring safety and privacy.

“Some people might be coming in [to the shelter] for a few days, letting things settle down at home. Other times, they might be ready to totally change their life and have no idea where to start. Either one of those is fine,” explained Fronk. It is important to note that children and parents stay together in the shelter.

If victims still need help with housing after leaving a shelter, there is an affordable housing program with subsidized rent and support services.

Shelter is not only provided for people, either. Pets are often used as tools of coercion and control, keeping victims trapped in abusive situations. Abusers may threaten to harm or kill pets if the victim tries to leave. In turn, Wellspring developed the Safe Pet Partnership, which provides loving foster homes for all pets while a victim goes into a shelter and receives the help they need. When they are ready, families are then reunited with their pets. This program has fostered hamsters, fish, cats, dogs, and even horses, taking away the worry about pet safety when escaping domestic violence.

While Wellspring deals directly with healing and supporting victims of abuse, as well as their family, friends and pets, they are very much involved in preventing domestic violence in the first place. Wellspring’s awareness programs visit local schools, businesses and community organizations to teach about domestic violence, including what to look for and what to do if you think you or a friend may be a victim. An emphasis is put on being an active bystander, saying or doing something about it when you see violence happening.

“When you start at the high school level, you can stop this behavior from progressing into adulthood and escalating. The point is to get ahead of this,” said Fronk.

Wellspring makes getting help comfortable, inviting and shame-free. By providing a wide range of awareness, education and victim services, they are making help for domestic violence more accessible to everyone. Fronk says it perfectly: “You are not alone in this.”

 

If you or a loved one is a victim of domestic violence, or even suspects abuse, call Wellspring’s 24-hour hotline at 518-584-8188. Wellspring is located at 480 Broadway, downstairs in the Collamer building, next door to City Hall. For more information or to donate to Wellspring, visit Wellspringcares.org. 

Published in News
Thursday, 08 October 2015 11:21

Tax Relief in 2016

Madigan Proposes 0.14 Percent Property Tax Reduction

SARATOGA SPRINGS – At the Saratoga Springs City Council meeting on Tuesday, October 6, Commissioner of Finance Michele Madigan detailed the proposed 2016 Saratoga Springs City Budget, under which City residents will see a 0.14 percent decrease in their property taxes.

 

The proposed 2016 tax rates are - inside district: $6.0593 per $1,000 of assessed property value; outside district: $5.982 per $1,000 of assessed property value. 

 

What this translates to, for a taxpayer inside the district with a home with an assessed value of $250,000, their property tax bill in 2016 will be $1,514.83 – a reduction of $2.70 from 2015.  

 

This is the fourth City budget that Commissioner Madigan has put forth with virtually no increase in property tax. The 2016 Budget year is also the second year of the NYS Property Tax Freeze Credit.  If the City stays within the tax levy cap and receives State approval of its Government Efficiencies Plan, qualified homeowners will also receive a freeze credit. “Saratoga Springs taxpayers can expect to receive both a tax decrease and a tax rebate”, stated Commissioner Madigan.

 

The total budget in 2016 will rise by $2,081,557 over 2015, to $43,841,077. The majority of the increase, $1.65 million, or 79 percent, is due to contractual wage and health insurance cost increases. The proposed budget offsets these and other increases with forecasts of a two percent increase in sales and mortgage taxes over amounts projected for 2015, bringing in an additional $1.43 million. Also, hotel occupancy tax is forecast to increase by $140,100; building permits another $50,000, and franchise tax (collected on local gross cable revenue) about $45,000. 

 

The budget does not contain any potential one-time revenues the city might derive from the sale/lease of either the Collamer or High Rock parking lot. Video Lottery Terminal (VLT) aid was projected at the 2013 level, or $1.827 million, in anticipation of a potential impact of expanded casino gaming in the region on city revenues. 

 

Four budget workshops are currently scheduled: Thursday, October 8 at 5 p.m., Wednesday October 14 at 1 p.m., Wednesday, October 21 at 1 p.m. and Monday, October 26 at 6 p.m. Each workshop will be designated for specific departments, with time allotted at each workshop for general discussion after departments are finished.  There will also be a Public Comment period at each workshop.

 

Also, two public hearings are required, with the first to be held at 6:45 p.m. on Tuesday, October 20, before the regular City Council meeting and another to be scheduled once the City Council has made adjustments to the plan. Under the city’s charter, the finance commissioner proposes a comprehensive budget at the first City Council meeting in October. Through workshops and meetings, the City Council can vote to change the budget in November or simply adopt it as proposed.  The council must adopt a budget by November 30; if it doesn’t, the proposed budget detailed last Tuesday will become the 2016 adopted budget.

 

 

The complete 2016 budget proposal can be viewed in its entirety on the city’s website at www.saratoga-springs.org

Published in News
Friday, 25 September 2015 17:47

Healthy Living Market Opens Café on Broadway

SARATOGA SPRINGS - Vermont-based Healthy Living Market is expanding into the Spa City. The company, which already operates one New York location at the Wilton Mall, is opening an additional Healthy Living Café at 420 Broadway in downtown Saratoga Springs. The new café will be located directly between Northshire Bookstore and Saratoga Cycling Studio, and will be open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. seven days a week. 

According to Chef Matt Buley, the café has incorporated favorites from the former Around the Corner café such as the Twain and Poe sandwiches, and will feature a range of healthy options, including Healthy Living Café’s line of signature sandwiches. 

“The original owner here reached out to us after enjoying our offerings in the Wilton store,” said Buley. “He said he thought we had a superior product and would love to offer it here.” 

Buley said one of the missions of the Healthy Living Market and Café brand is to serve the cleanest, best-tasting product with outstanding service. The goal is to make shopping in the café an enjoyable and relaxing experience. 

The décor certainly provides that, with an eclectic mix of bright color, casual rustic trimmings, and modern comfort. Added to the authentic smiles of a knowledgeable, friendly staff, and customers feel right at home. The healthy breakfasts and lunches even have a comfort-food taste and feel. 

“It’s about knowing your product,” said Buley, who has been the family-owned company’s chef responsible for the overall healthy menus and recipes branding for three years. “An organic apple tastes phenomenal. An organic, green bell pepper is so good; the key is to not over-season it. Let the natural flavors do the work.”

Buley is an expert at combining flavors and even has some off-menu customer favorites, such as a Vermont maple chai latte that is the perfect combination of spice and earthy sweetness.

Local and organic foods are used whenever possible, such as items from Eagle Ridge Farms. Meats are all-natural, and roast beef is roasted in-house. Scones, cookies, and muffins are all made from scratch and baked on the café premises. “If you happen to walk by around 8 in the morning before we open, you can smell the fresh baked goods in the ovens,” said Buley.

The rebranding has taken place over the last month, and a grand opening will be announced soon. For more information stop by the store, give them a call at 518-652-3501, or simply check out healthylivingmarket.com.

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