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By Andrea Barry
For Saratoga TODAY
SARATOGA SPRINGS— The music industry can be a discouraging one to get into, especially considering its highly competitive nature. This idea, however, is not intimidating to aspiring Saratoga Springs high school rappers, Anthony Scaringe and Justin LaViolette. Rather, it is what drives them.
Scaringe, whose stage name is Zeo and LaViolette, better known as De La Purp, performed onstage together last month at the Putnam Den.
Since the seventh grade, Scaringe has always been intrigued by the music industry. It started off with a simple love for poetry, but as his lines progressed and his passion for music expanded, a realization hit that he could turn his love for music into a career.
“I want to get to the point where music is my main focus,” said Scaringe. “One day I would like to be able to support myself through my work.”
Hard work and dedication is an understatement when describing the young rapper. Three to four of his days per week are spent in the studio and it is very seldom that you will find him without a notebook in hand.
“I’m always writing bars in my phone,” said Scaringe. “I like to write music that makes sense. It’s my way to vent.”
Next year, Scaringe plans to move out west to continue his study of the music industry, create more of his own beats and finally, take classes on music production. His perseverance, love for the industry and undying drive could ultimately be the variable that will one day separate him from the rest.
Justin LaViolette, another student at the high school, also plans on furthering his career with music. Like Scaringe, LaViolette’s love for music was apparent at an early age.
“Growing up, my dad was always in a rock band,” said LaViolette. “I’ve always been musically inclined,” he continued.
It wasn’t until recently, however, that LaViolette realized just how far he wanted to take his passion.
“In the past six to eight months, it’s been a whole new drive,” said LaViolette.
In the studio, alongside Scaringe and others, LaViolette finds it easiest to produce a song when he has the ability to listen to a beat and just write. Although LaViolette is yet to release a solo mix tape, he says it is something to look out for in the near future.
Together, both Scaringe and LaViolette agree the ultimate goal is getting recognized one day for the music they create. While writing a song, their main focus is to evoke some type of emotion from the listener.
The Putnam Den (63A Putnam Street, Saratoga Springs) will be hosting a show tonight that Scaringe will be a part of.
"We usually do rock and roll, but this time we're excited to be doing hip hop," said Bob Millis, who assists The Putnam Den with the scheduling of their shows.
Tonight's show will consist six to eight acts, all of who will be onstage for about twenty minutes. All acts are local and of the hip hop genre. The show is scheduled to begin around 9 p.m.
To hear their music, visit www.soundcloud.com/therealzeo
SARATOGA SPRINGS— The Tang Teaching Museum’s UpBeat on the Roof concert series returns this summer with 10 free shows.
The series will feature an eclectic mix of music—folk, mountain music, soul, blues, jazz and combinations of genres—on the roof of the Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College, 815 N. Broadway, Saratoga Springs. Shows begin at 7 p.m. Friday, June 13, and continue most every Friday through August 22.
“Coming off the success of last year’s ‘Lucky 13th’ season, we programmed the 2014 season with a dual goal of being entertaining and educational,” said the Tang Teaching Museum’s Assistant Director for Engagement Michael Janairo. “The idea is that music lovers can learn something new by hearing new interpretations of familiar sounds and by being introduced to new bands that may challenge a listener’s expectations. Or you can just kick back and enjoy.”
Here is a full list of the Tang’s UpBeat on the Roof 2014 season. All concerts begin at 7 p.m. The rooftop is accessible via the museum elevator or outdoor staircases. Concerts often attract large crowds, so arrive early to guarantee seating. Or come even earlier to check out the artwork in the museum’s galleries. Free parking is available in parking lots adjacent to the museum. In the event of inclement weather, the concerts will be held inside the museum.
* - Debut at UpBeat on the Roof
* Friday, June 13: THE CHRONICLES, a six-piece band that combines jazz, hip-hop, funk, soul and gospel, making their
Friday, June 20: LYLE & PHIL DIVINSKY, a soul and R&B father-son duo
Friday, June 27: JEANNE O'CONNOR AND THE NEW STANDARD, soulful reinterpretations of standards from the ’60s and ’70s
Friday, July 4: No concert, museum closed
Friday, July 11: ANNIE AND THE HEDONISTS, acoustic blues, vintage jazz, swing and folk (returning act)
* Friday, July 18: HOT CLUB OF SARATOGA, gypsy jazz quintet
* Friday, July 25: LINDA MAC & COUNTRY MEMORIES, Hillbilly, Country, honky-tonk
Friday, August 1: DANA AND SUSAN ROBINSON, old-time mountain music
* Friday, August 8: JOCELYN ARNDT, blues-inspired contemporary-alternative tempered with elements of jazz, making her Upbeat debut
Friday, August 15: HEARD, a blend of jazz, classical and world music inspired by the natural environment
* Friday, August 22: MIKE PERKINS & FRIENDS, classic rock of the ’60s, ’70s, ’80s and ’90s
SARATOGA SPRINGS – The final concert of the academic year by the Skidmore College Orchestra will feature a distinctive musical moment: the world premiere of a composition written by internationally acclaimed guitarist James Emery for his daughter Hannah and featuring the two of them as soloists.
They will make their public debut playing together in at the concert, which is scheduled at 3 p.m. on Sunday, April 27, in the Arthur Zankel Music Center on the Skidmore campus.
The Emery’s performance of Double Concerto for Guitar, Clarinet and Orchestra will feature James Emery on guitar, and Hannah Emery, a Skidmore senior, on clarinet. This is thought to be the first instance in which the parent is also the composer of the work.
James Emery wrote the piece for his daughter. He explained, “What sets the Double Concerto apart from my other large-scale works is I can play alongside her supported by an orchestra of her peers and friends, led by one of her teachers, Anthony Holland, associate professor of composition and conductor of the Skidmore College Orchestra.”
Hannah Emery entered Skidmore as a Filene music scholar in 2010 and completed her junior year in Paris.
The Double Concerto, Emery’s third piece for orchestra, was commissioned by Skidmore’s Music Department.
James Emery has been active at the forefront of the international jazz and contemporary music scenes since 1975. He has written more than 100 compositions ranging from solo guitar and chamber music to symphonic pieces.
The April 27 program also will include a performance of the orchestral masterpiece by Mussorgsky/Ravel, “Pictures at an Exhibition.”
Tickets for the concert are $8 for adults, $5 for senior citizens/Skidmore community, and free for students and children. For advance reservations visit skidmore.edu/zankel or call the Zankel box office (518) 580-5321. Skidmore’s Arthur Zankel Music Center is wheelchair accessible and offers listening devices for the hearing impaired.
Jazz/Bluegrass Multimedia Fusion At Arts Center
SARATOGA SPRINGS – Saratoga Arts is presenting two linked evenings of music and film, both featuring the guitarists Chris Eldridge (of the band Punch Brothers) and Julian Lage.
The Julian Lage / Chris Eldridge Duo are performing at The Saratoga Arts Center on Tuesday, April 22 at 7:30 p.m.
In conjunction with the April 22 concert, Saratoga Arts and the Saratoga Film Forum will screen Jules At Eight and How to Grow a Band at The Arts Center on Saturday, April 19 at 7:30 p.m.
Julian Lage was the subject of Jules At Eight, a short documentary that introduces the guitar prodigy as he negotiates his way between his second-grade playground and work with San Francisco's illustrious jazz and blues musicians. Throughout the film, the strikingly poised young musician challenges the view to reconcile his childhood innocence with his aptitude for the blues.
At age 13, Lage performed at the 2000 Grammy Awards, and he has been a faculty member at the Stanford Jazz Workshop since he was 15. Both Lage's debut album Sounding Point (2010) and its follow-up Gladwell (2011) have been very well received; in fact, Sounding Point was nominated for the 2010 Grammy Award Best Contemporary Jazz Album. Lage has played with such renowned artists at Jim Hall, Gary Burton, Bela Fleck and Nels Cline.
Chris Eldridge has also been immersed in music since childhood, thanks in part to his father, and a founding member of the seminal bluegrass group The Seldom Scene. After graduating from Oberlin, Eldridge joined his father in the group with whom he received a Grammy nomination. In 2005 he founded the critically acclaimed bluegrass band The Infamous Stringdusters, which, at the 2007 International Bluegrass Music Association awards won Emerging artist of the Year, Song of the Year, and Album of the Year for their debut album.
Meanwhile, in 2005 Eldridge was enlisted by mandolinist Chris Thile into Punch Brothers, the genre-defying band he formed during a hiatus of his platinum-selling, Grammy Award-winning group Nickel Creek. Punch Brothers' formation is documented in the well-received feature-length film How to Grow a Band. The film follows Thile as he begins again with bold plans to bring to life a 45-minute musical elegy to a failed marriage written for traditional bluegrass instruments.
With Lage’s background in modern jazz and new music, and Eldridge’s deep relationship with progressive bluegrass, this duo lives at the nexus of improvisation, spontaneous composition and virtuosic refinement, all performed on their respective 1939 Martin guitars.
For more information about both events, call Saratoga Arts at (518) 584-4132, or visit saratoga-arts.org. Advance tickets for the concert are advised, and are available from Saratoga Arts website.
SARATOGA SPRINGS – With every milestone reached comes the opportunity to not only plan for the future, but also reflect on the past. That is exactly what the Saratoga Springs City Center is doing in honor of its 30th anniversary.
Over the years the City Center has experienced continued growth and success in the convention industry, establishing itself as a highly desirable meeting and event venue in the Northeast. This celebration of achievement calls for a look back at the rich history of conventions in Saratoga Springs as well as the road to the City Center’s establishment.
City Center President Mark E. Baker has invited Supervisor Matthew Veitch to give an extensive on-site historical presentation on this topic.
The presentation, which will be at the City Center on Wednesday, April 30 from 7 to 8:30 p.m., will showcase numerous visuals and begins with the development and construction of Convention Hall in 1893, as well as the fire that destroyed it. The public’s reaction to the loss of this community treasure and the rallying to build a new Convention Hall during the 1960s and 1970s will also be included.
Following will be the age of Urban Renewal, the process of founding the City Center and its recent expansion.
The Veitch family has a long-standing history in Saratoga with multiple generations working in public service. Supervisor Veitch’s grandfather, Donald Veitch, was the Executive Director of the Urban Renewal Agency from 1964-1986. He played a large role in the Spring Valley Project which allowed the land the City Center was built on to be for public and hotel use. Supervisor Veitch is passionate about this subject and has conducted extensive research, which he called ‘enlightening.’
SARATOGA SPRINGS – With new hotel properties sprouting up like spring flowers throughout the 12866 zip code, there has never been a better time to celebrate the one hotel who put our town on the map.
The Holiday Inn Saratoga Springs will be celebrating its silver anniversary this year – 50 years is an achievement of merit in any circumstance. As expected, they have a full slate of activities to commemorate this milestone.
But before we detail the celebrations to come, let us take a moment to recall how this property came into existence and how it was seminal in the development of the Saratoga Springs we enjoy today.
This was an example of a municipality coming together in a unique fashion. An entire community galvanized to finance the Holiday Inn’s construction. Under a slogan of “What Saratoga Springs builds - builds Saratoga Springs,” a campaign committee was formed that had community leaders with last names most people would easily recognize: for instance Benton, Grande, Roohan, Clements and Wait. Except these, of course, were the forbearers of the ones that are prominent today.
But participation extended to all levels of the community.
The idea of the campaign was to show a major hotel chain that this town was serious about building itself as a convention destination. In 1961, approximately 300 campaigners went door-to-door across the City of Saratoga Springs to sell over 15,000 shares of stock in a new convention hotel. In the end, they collected over $700,000 in cash and pledges from over 1,500 residents. Some invested as little as $50 while organizations such as Skidmore College and the Adirondack Trust Company purchased shares worth $25,000 or more.
Holiday Inn was a pioneer 50 years ago – opening ceremonies took place on August 15, 1964. Because of their commitment back then, you cannot name a hotel chain that wouldn’t want to be here.
To celebrate, there are a bevy of events scheduled:
- A Reunion of Investors: Cynthia Hollowood, general manager of the Holiday Inn, invites all investors and their families to a free Anniversary Reception and Luncheon at the hotel on May 28. At the event, The Holiday Inn will unveil a 70-foot timeline featuring its robust history and catalytic role in the revitalization of Saratoga Springs.
“We have some of the names of the original shareholders, but in 50 years people make many moves and families change. We’d like to be able to find everyone so we can invite them and their families back to the hotel they helped create,” shared Hollowood.
- Memories for Timeline: The Holiday Inn is asking community residents and guests to submit their special memories for a chance to be featured in its 50th Anniversary celebration. Selected stories will be displayed in social media, celebratory videos and on the hotel’s new 70-foot historical timeline, set to be unveiled at the end of May.
Whether it’s the day you said, “I do,” or the night you won the big award, Grandma’s 80th birthday party, your nephew’s graduation or a charity fundraiser, each individual memory, pulled together, creates 50 years of stories.
“Since our foundation, we’ve been a community-oriented hotel. We’re still here 50 years later because of the special moments our community members choose to share with us,” said Cynthia Hollowood, general manager of the Holiday Inn.
- Other Events: The Holiday Inn’s 50th Anniversary celebrations will continue throughout 2014 with a VIP Private Birthday Celebration on September 4 followed by a Community Open House on September 7. The specifics about these events will be released in the near future.
My Holiday Inn memory: As a young lad fresh out of grad school, I was thrilled to given a job as a marketing rep for a major metropolitan newspaper. My territory extended from Poughkeepsie to Montreal – the geographic mid-point was Albany, which at the time was a less-than-thrilling prospect to live in.
On a beautiful spring day in 1981, I was driving back from Montreal, when I saw the signs for Saratoga Springs – a city I had heard of but never explored. It was lunchtime, so I pulled off at Exit 14.
I passed the racecourse, racing museum and Congress Park on my way into town. Sitting on a Broadway patio, I thought: ‘We may have something here.’ But I was concerned what life would be like year-round. Did they roll up the sidewalks in the winter?
I did my due diligence and checked into the Holiday Inn Saratoga Springs for a week and asked residents about life here. They assured me I’d have plenty to do all year round.
The Holiday Inn Saratoga Springs helped this “City Boy” find his new home.
Plus, I collected a ton of “Priority Club” points.
“My Top Memories”
Cynthia Hollowood has been with The Holiday Inn Saratoga Springs for over 30 years and its general manager since 1985. We asked her to reach back and recall her favorite moments at the hotel:
- Who would have thought? In 1983, I met a very nice couple from Ballston Spa who planned the wedding of their daughter at the hotel. On the eve of the wedding they came by to review the final arrangements. As they got up to leave my office, the husband asked, “Will you be here tomorrow? “ Unfortunately, I was scheduled to work the evening event the next day but assured them they would be well taken care of. He exclaimed, “I am not worried about that, I have 5 single, eligible sons that I would like you to meet!” Five years later I did get to meet I met one of their sons, Brien. Eventually, they would become my in-laws, Hugh and Bernice Hollowood!
- All New! When the Saratoga Springs City Center and adjoining hotel was getting ready to open in 1984, our partnership had the foresight to recognize that an improved facility was necessary to stay competitive. A major remodeling of rooms, commercial areas and new restaurant and nightclub/lounge was designed and built over the course of 12 months. In the spring of 1985, RASCALS (operated by Doug and Patty Wolfe) opened and soon became one of Saratoga’s most popular eateries and successful nightclubs for more than 10 years. From that point on, we have continued to make regular improvements to keep our business going and growing. Watch for more updates coming this year.
- The biggest (and longest) wedding of the decade: In 1989, Brien and I were married on September 3rd and held a large reception for 350 guests at the hotel that lasted over nine hours. In addition to our large families, guests included the many friends and associates we have met here at the hotel and in the business community. A total of 4 Hollowood family members have had their receptions at the hotel.
- The Best of The Best: in 1998, along with the greater Saratoga Springs community, we had the privilege of hosting the Congressional Medal of Honor Society over Flag Day weekend. In addition to a fabulous parade and series of military band concerts, the highlight of the weekend included a black tie dinner held at the hotel. We were honored to have over 160 Congressional Medal recipients under our roof and had the opportunity to learn about their heroic efforts in protecting America’s freedom. They are described as “Ordinary men who did extraordinary acts of bravery and valor.”
- 30 Years of Fun, Family and Friendship: in November 2011, I celebrated 30 years of service to the hotel. I was honored to celebrate with my teammates, partners and the many guests and community friends I have met along the way. My career, my family, my friends, my associates and our many guests all blend together to make for a full life in the world’s best community, Saratoga Springs.
SARATOGA SPRINGS – When you get a chance to visit with Cole Broderick you are always impressed with his confidence and enthusiasm. Qualities you often see in people who have achieved major accomplishments in mid-life.
But for some people, relatively early success in life brings that big question: “Now what?” For Cole, it led to a “What’s next?” attitude.
By the mid-1990s, his music had provided a jazz soundtrack for Saratoga itself.
Those around at that time would see and Cole at every major venue and festival in town – cranking out iconic, original music, discs that were released one at a time (and is still available as a 4-CD Box Set known as the Seasons of Saratoga) that was a tribute to what Saratoga had become: A thoroughbred in its prime.
Laced with titles like “Gaffney’s Courtyard,” “Skating in Congress Park” and “August in Saratoga (The Starting Gate)” the music celebrated Saratoga’s charms and it’s status as the “year-round place to be” before it became a marketing slogan.
Along the way, the accolades accumulate and Cole himself had been woven into the fabric of Saratoga itself. It could be opined with scarce argument that had Saratoga constructed a Mount Rushmore replica in tribute to its musical heritage, it would be hard to keep Cole off the mountain.
Consider this one native son’s thought in support of his credentials:
“The jazz is as cool as it is hot …obviously Saratoga has a good influence on all aspects of the arts, from dance to theater, from Balanchine to Broderick.”
- David Hyde Pierce
And so, having reached that rarified air of “exemplar,” Cole looked for new worlds to explore.
Those new worlds still involved music, although in different forms. Cole explains “I had a great time with my band mates (during the “Seasons” albums he was billed as the Cole Broderick Quartet), “but I had a strong desire to depend less on others. To achieve this, I went deeper into the piano, as I did when I was in college, actually, to further refine and improve my technique.”
Not that the listener had anything but praise for his phrasing before, mind you. But he was answering to a higher authority – the greats of all time.
“I’d always use my idols in classical and jazz as measuring sticks… guys like Oscar (Peterson), Art Tatum and Vladimir Horowitz.” Cole noted. The result of this measuring led first to the release of In a Dream in 2004, a solo album with 11 new original songs.
The deeper exploration also led to a rekindling of his love for the songs of what is termed the “Great American Songbook”: those timeless classics penned by George Gershwin, Cole Porter et.al.
Which led to regular and ongoing appearances at local “Boomerang” hangouts like Woodlawn at Wesley and the Home of the Good Shepherd; and a rekindling of a teenage love – The Beatles. That led to a release of a solo piano tribute CD in 2009. “I paid the royalties for the music – ouch! But it was worth it,” Cole said.
The recent 50th anniversary of the Fab Four’s arrival in New York coincided with Cole’s latest coming out party, if you will. He recently teamed up with Skidmore Professor and Beatles expert Gordon Thompson on a multi-media tour of seven libraries in the region to deliver a commemorative program about the event and then topped it off with a solo Beatles set within an all-star tribute evening to a capacity crowd at The Egg on Valentines Day.
“It was great to hear the reaction,” Cole said “and makes me feel good about my choices. I believe I’ve gotten the new repertoires down to the point where I can start putting it out live to the public on a regular basis.”
So don’t be surprised if you start seeing Cole Broderick in the music listings more, or even at your friend’s private party. He didn’t go away, he went down a different road to keep his talent stimulated and us entertained. Based on recent results, it was the right move.
But that’s no surprise here. The man who wrote a classic tune as part of “Summer in Saratoga” called On the Horizon has always had the gift of seeing beyond it.
For a listen to some clips or more information, visit colebroderick.com
SARATOGA SPRINGS – The city council meeting on tax day – Tuesday, April 15 had an economic flavor as Finance Commissioner Michele Madigan delivered her year-end report for 2013. Pending a final audit, she reported generally good news for the city:
“For 2013, the City is required to have a fund balance between $4,044,002 and $6,066,003. Unaudited figures indicate that the surplus resulted in a fund balance that is in excess of the maximum amount by about $1.7 million.”
Ms. Madigan detailed many highlights among the individual line items, citing mortgage tax collection and the city’s ambulance program exceeding expectations on the revenue side.
There is a downside to an excessive surplus, in that residents are unduly burdened with a higher than necessary tax bill. Commissioner Madigan noted that, unforeseen circumstances aside, individual departments will need to be careful in their forecasts and adjust budgets, perhaps quarterly so that city residents are only billed for what is needed:
“We must strive to establish a balanced budget that adequately funds the delivery of solid essential services in a safe community… (Excess) funds should be returned to the taxpayers, possibly through reduced property tax rates if closer scrutiny of departmental budgets and expected revenues reveal that this would be sustainable.”
One recommendation that Commissioner Madigan had for some of the surplus was to invest in the city’s website, which appeared to have support of the council. Commissioner of Accounts John Franck felt it should be part of an overall upgrade in the city’s social media and communications strategy – a broad look into the best way to facilitate two-way communications between the city and it’s citizens.
In what was at least an ironic coincidence on “surplus night,” the council entertained and unanimously passed salary raises for two key positions: for the Administrative Director of Recreation (to $59,454) and Director of Risk and Safety (to just over $82,000). The council also established an hourly rate for a part-time Administrate Aide (at $15.38/hour) in the mayor’s office to support the city attorneys.
In fact, these raises came out of budgeted dollars, were revenue neutral (the recreation department gave up a part-time position that was unfilled for instance). In the case of Risk and Safety Director Marilyn Rivers, it was probably long overdue. Yet the timing was of these items is something some members in the audience next to me certainly took notice of.
Mayor Joanne Yepsen discussed Saratoga Casino and Raceway’s (SCR) $30 million expansion proposal, which she noted, was completely separate from any expanded gaming application “in the eyes of the state, and the city.”
SCR’s proposal involves a hotel, meeting space and an entertainment venue among other items. SCR had previously stated that they would submit their proposal to the city’s land use boards for review. Mayor Yepsen noted that the state Gaming Commission had named the city as an ‘involved agency’ and that “once they start the clock, the city has 30 days to respond.” Mayor Yepsen indicated that there might be a special council meeting called on this subject if necessary. She then circulated a proposal summary to the council members; the full proposal is available in the planning office for public inspection.
Commissioner of Public Safety Chris Mathiesen detailed some changes to traffic light patterns on several important Broadway intersections. This was based on an extensive study of traffic patterns that examined various options to improve traffic flow through downtown.
The forthcoming changes are:
- At Broadway and Church Street, heading northbound on Broadway, a left turn light will be installed to facilitate westbound traffic on Church, expediting traffic towards Saratoga Hospital
- Also at this intersection, left turn signals from Church Street and from Lake Avenue onto Broadway will be changed from ‘lagging’ after the green light to ‘leading,’ or before the green light, bringing it in line with other intersections.
- An increased interval for pedestrian walk lights will precede the green light for vehicles at Broadway and Division, Washington, Spring and Congress Streets
- Sequential timing of lights on Broadway will be adjusted will the goal of smoothing North/South traffic flow on Broadway depending on conditions (time of day; heavy traffic days).
The commissioner said that these changes would be implemented in the next few weeks.
Commissioner Mathiesen also took note of our activities as watchdog on the permanent Committee on Wasting Council Time, which is actually the People’s time. The Commissioner, previously spotlighted for reading an entire op-ed article into the record and similar activities, noted that the award had been passed to Commissioner of Public Works (DPW) Anthony Scirocco on April 1, for reading his narrative on the history of the city’s water works, which appeared as prologue to the DPW annual report. Commissioner Mathiesen felt that the information Commissioner Scirocco conveyed was enlightening.
Well, not to stir this pot further, but to clarify, I am sure that the information was interesting, but it would much better for all concerned if Commissioner Scirocco had just submitted his report, called attention to this great chapter to read in it, etc.; but not actually read the whole thing at the end of a three-plus hour meeting. How many people do you think were actually listening at that point?
In fact, if this information is so compelling, why is it still not posted online over two weeks later? I’d love to read all this great stuff, but the DPW page still has the 2012 report up, not 2013.
While the April 15 meeting was very long, it was by necessity so, given an executive session and Commissioner Madigan’s annual report detail. It’s not the length; it’s the content – and the comportment. So the WCT committee will not issue a time-waster award for this meeting.
Instead, it will award its random “Special Award of Merit” to Supervisor Peter Martin, who, after waiting over four hours to speak, delivered the words the dwindling gallery longed to hear:
“I promise to be mercifully brief.”
And then he was! Kudos, Supervisor.
Never before had I felt so gleeful to walk out into an April blizzard. But I’ll be back on May 6, so you don’t have to be, citizens.
SARATOGA SPRINGS -- Commissioner of Finance Michele Madigan reports that 2013 City general fund (operating budget)
revenues have outpaced City expenses, and unaudited year-end figures reveal an annual operating
surplus. For 2013, the City is required to have a fund balance between $4,044,002 and $6,066,003.
Unaudited figures indicate that the surplus resulted in a fund balance that is in excess of the
maximum amount by about $1.7 million.
The 2013 surplus is driven by higher than expected revenues coupled with lower than budgeted
expenses. Actual revenue collected totaled $41,585,774. Actual expenditures totaled $38,846,104.
On the revenue side: Mortgage tax collection was unexpectedly high, building permits and planning
board fees followed suit. VLT Aid, distributed by the state to offset the costs of hosting VLTs, was
increased by $331,251 by the State in the late spring of 2013 (after the City’s budget had been adopted).
The City ambulance program also collected more revenue than anticipated, and sales tax revenue
topped out at $10.65 million – the highest collection that the City has ever experienced. In sum,
revenues collected were $848,872 more than amounts budgeted.
On the expense side: Due to adjustments to new health insurance programs and slower than
anticipated hiring for new positions (and those left open by employee turnover), expenditures for
employee benefits and personal service funds were lower than had been budgeted. Commissioner
Madigan cautions Departments to forecast expenses carefully. “I will be scrutinizing this in 2014 through
2015. We must strive to establish a balanced budget that adequately funds the delivery of solid essential
services in a safe community.
Commissioner Madigan states “these funds should be returned to the taxpayers, possibly through
reduced property tax rates if closer scrutiny of departmental budgets and expected revenues reveal
that this would be sustainable”. Madigan points out that she has kept property taxes low with her
recommendations to: create and strengthen reserves that have helped keep annual changes to the tax
rate at or near 0% for two years; contribute to critical capital needs, such as infrastructure and
equipment; plan for future retirement needs; and, she has set aside funds to settle long expired labor
City policy requires that any funds in excess of the maximum allowable Fund Balance be utilized, and the
Commissioner of Finance is required to make recommendations to the City Council regarding the use of
such funds. There is one long awaited project that she will recommend for immediate attention:
updating the City website. Limited resources and funding has made upgrading the website a challenge
in recent years. “This is beneficial to our citizens, the business community, City departments and our
City. The City website is a portal to City government and a vital gateway to the City. This is an
opportunity to use one time funding for a one time project that is universally beneficial.”
MALTA— The Malta Town Board meeting on Monday, April 7 brought about significant actions on two fronts:
The first was the adoption, by a 4-1 vote (with Councilman Peter Klotz voting against) of the adoption of the Stewart’s Planned Development District (PDD) #315, which would eventually lead to the issuing of a building permit for a Stewart’s Shops (with gasoline pumps) and an Adirondack Trust branch office.
This building would be sighted on the high traffic roundabout at the intersection of NYS Route 67 and Luther Forest Boulevard – on the way to and from the nearby technology park.
As noted in Saratoga TODAY’s issue of February 28, the Stewart’s Corporation has offered a sum of $200,000 in seed money to the town, to pay for the costs of construction extending water lines (via Saratoga Water Services) along old Route 67 and Dugan Hill Road in a neighborhood to several homes, in the nearby neighborhood of Maltaville. Stewart’s agreed to not receive their building permit until this condition was completed.
A presentation/public hearing preceded the final vote, the last in a series over several town meetings, that was delivered by Mr. Tom Lewis, who has retired as Real Estate Representative at Stewart’s, but was staying on to shepherd this project through the process.
At Monday’s meeting, he delivered his portion of the proceedings before an audience which included Charles Wait, Jr. and Mr. Lewis’ successor at Stewart’s, Chuck Marshall.
On February 28, the story was subtitled “Growth That Works” and despite Klotz’ dissent, it says here that this was a favorable deal for the town and for everyone concerned. It is an example of a good public-private sector partnership that any place, let alone the Town of Malta, should want to replicate as often as possible.
The epitome of win-win. As in you get your water; I get a make-your-own sundae and some unleaded on the way home from the tech park. Mr. Lewis scored on his final drive and those who have seen him in this arena before were not at all surprised with the result.
The second front concerned a trio of resolutions regarding what is labeled the Round Lake Improvement Plan, or more commonly “the roundabouts”. The town board voted, also 4-1, but this time with Councilman John Hartzell voting no, to formally seek determination of the town itself as the lead agency, and to authorize the town’s designates to begin the process of eminent domain on several parcels along the corridor by evaluating the public benefit and providing a calculation of ‘just compensation offers’ to the given landowners for their parcels, a mix of both commercial and residential properties.
Round Lake resident Woody Sloat, in the pubic comment period, reminded the town board that continued action on roundabouts was contrary to the wishes of over 500 petition-singing area residents (see: mymaltany.nationbuilder.com) and later elaborated:
“A number of citizens who live in this area consist of professional engineers, educators, doctors, lawyers and law enforcement professionals who work in highway safety every day. These residents refused to be duped by the slanted statistical data that supports the point of view of individuals who created their position based on profit. The residents’ genuine concern is safety and quality of life.” Mr. Sloat said.
“It is a big disappointment to see the town supervisor and three of his councilpersons dismiss the 514 residents who appealed to their common sense. Their poor decision will not be forgotten.”