SARATOGA SPRINGS: Budget gets OK second time around

Finance Commissioner Matthew McCabe made no changes to the budget that had been defeated only days ago when he brought it to the Tuesday, Nov. 20, meeting.

The one thing that did change, however, was this time he had the votes to pass it.

The Saratoga Springs City Council, by a margin of 3-to-2, passed the 2008 budget. Commissioner of Accounts John Franck and Commissioner of Public Works Thomas McTygue cast the dissenting votes.

At the heart of the budget controversy was $8 million set aside for a new public safety facility in the capital programs budget. Public Safety Commissioner Ron Kim and members of the capital budget program committee felt the amount, which is $4 million less than any proposed facility Kim has brought before the board, was a slap in the face of the work they had done over the past two years.

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 did 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.

On Nov. 20, Kim reversed his stance on the budget from only five days before, saying he would rather have the $8 million than no money at all.

The bottom line here, folks, is that we've waited too long, he said about the safety facility. "I reluctantly support this " the alternative being that there is no money in the capital programs budget."

Mayor Valerie Keehn reiterated Kim's notion that the time was right to move forward with the project.

"If we don't do it now it may not get done," she said. "Council after council have used the same excuses over and over to not move forward with this."

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