The 2013 budget is made up of 32 items ranked in order of priority. Over $900,000 will be paid for through reserve water and sewer funds. The rest of the $3.36 million will be added to the city’s long-term debt, which currently stands at $39.64 million.
All 204 pages of the proposed Capital Budget Program are available online at www.saratoga-springs.org, by clicking on the link in the upper right-hand corner that says “2013-2018 Proposed Capital Program.”
The CIP is developed by a committee that features representation from each of the city’s departments, which includes the mayor himself.
“Departments come to us with ‘wish lists’ if you will, as discussed by the committee, but things get moved around from one year to the next. But without this substantiation being brought forward by the departments, it’s exclude from consideration by the committee,” said the mayor.
Johnson continued, “We really tighten up the criteria used by the Capital Program committee over the last few years to make it a point that we can identify with what the city needs while we realistically project how we’re going to pay for those things.”
At the very top of the rankings is the $414,000 set aside for infrastructure renovations at the Saratoga Springs Police Department, followed by $100,000 for a storm sewer on Wedgewood Avenue and over $63,000 for infrastructure renovations for the Lake Avenue Firehouse.
The most expensive item happened to be the one Mayor Johnson said the least about, as $600,000 will likely be used to purchase a parcel of land near Jefferson Street that he indicated could be used for a parking lot near the city’s Recreation Center. Ongoing negotiations with the property’s current owner, however, would prevent Johnson from saying much more about the development.
The city’s Public Works Department will receive roughly half of the 2013 budget, with $2.1 million to be used mostly on upgrading equipment such as dump trucks, plows and salt spreaders for the icy roads in the winter.
Public Works is expected to receive around $325,000 for renovations to the Canfield Casino and Spirit of Life statues located in Congress Park. The Saratoga Music Hall, also known as the third floor of City Hall, will have an air conditioning system installed for $129,000. The mayor indicated that the “oppressive heat” in the music hall had prevented any acts from appearing there during the summer months.
The recently opened waterfront park along Saratoga Lake is expecting to receive $200,000, but that number could increase if the city receives the federal grant money it requested. The city applied for $400,000 in grants, but would be required to match that number should they receive the award. This would push the waterfront park to the third most expensive item on the list if grants are approved.
Several items concerning the city’s Parks and Recreation Department were included in the 2013 budget, with the most expensive being court resurfacing and the city’s East Side, Veteran’s and Hathorn park’s tennis and basketball courts for $95,880 while the item with the highest priority is new water heaters at the Vernon Ice Rink for $36,960. Rehabilitation to the playground equipment at both East and West Side parks was included at $12,000.
At the hearing following the PowerPoint presentation from the mayor, two people addressed the council regarding the absence of funds for an ambulance station on the east side of Saratoga Lake. $200,000 was reportedly put aside last year for the project which never came to fruition.
Representing the East Side Safety Committee, George Shulof spoke candidly with the council, stating that not enough was being done to meet the needs of his neighborhood and asked, “Do we have to bring you a dead body before you’ll do something?”
Two more hearings are expected to take place regarding the 2013 CIP, with one scheduled for August 28 at 1 p.m. during a special City Council session, and then again on September 4 at 6:50 p.m. prior to the council’s first September meeting.