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Council tables budget vote

Editor's note: The Saratoga Spotlight went to press before the Tuesday, Nov. 20, meeting at which the Saratoga Springs City Council was expected to discuss multiple budget scenarios. Visit www.spotlightnews.com for updates to this story.

Adoption of the city's 2008 budget was put on hold Thursday, Nov. 15, as the Saratoga Springs City Council could not come to a consensus as to how much money should be allowed to go to bond in 2008 for a new public safety facility.

As it stands, city taxpayers face an average tax increase of 8.64 percent, or $5.36 per $1,000, of assessed value. If a budgeted $8 million for a public safety facility does not go through, the tax rate would drop to an average of 5.25 percent or $5.19 per $1,000 of assessed value, according to the city Finance Department. The tax rate for 2007 was $4.94 per $1,000 of assessed value.

Commissioner of Finance Matthew McCabe weathered more than an hour of argument and criticism when he presented his budget at a special meeting Thursday.

Capital Program Budget Committee Chairman Lew Benton accused McCabe of being secretive in his budget process, and shunning the two years of work the committee has done in favor of his own figures.

If you agree with us, fine. If you don't agree with us, fine. But at least talk to us, said Benton. He also urged McCabe to wait until Nov. 21, when new requests-for-proposals (RFPs) are due back for the proposed facility.

Resident John Goldberg asked McCabe what the rush was.

"There are no penalties for a late budget, and if you have to have a late budget to get things right, then so be it," he said.

McCabe opened his agenda by saying that accusations of his budget process not being transparent were "not worthy of responding to." He did say that he did edit and move things around in the capital programs budget, "as is the right of this office," he said.

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