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Saratoga mayor, safety boss push for new facility

Mayor Valerie Keehn, Public Safety Commissioner Ron Kim, Police Chief Ed Moore and members of the Public Safety Capital Construction Committee assembled on the steps of City Hall to dispel myths about the proposed capital budget and new public safety facility myths, they say, that were promulgated by Commissioner of Accounts John Franck and mayoral candidate Gordon Boyd.

Commissioner Franck and Mr. Boyd have engaged the people of our city in the most egregious of Karl Rove-style campaign tactics " lie, confuse and distort," said Keehn. "We are here to set the record straight."

Keehn and Kim took issue with Franck telling media that the $63 million spent in the first three years of the capital program would cause a 30 percent increase in property taxes.

"The 30 percent is predicated on the entire [capital] plan," said Kim, noting that only the first year of the capital budget will be voted on by the City Council.

He said that delaying the building of the $17 million public safety facility, which includes court facilities, would only cause the price to skyrocket due to increasing fuel and construction costs. The system of setting $1 million to $2 million aside every year until the city could build would only kill the project, said Kim.

"What is very clear is that if we build today, there will not be a 30 percent increase in taxes," he said. "And if we had $1 million or $2 million lying around City Hall, we could build these things a little faster."

According to Kim, a 7 to 10 percent property tax increase is a more accurate number and that does not account for grants that he believes the city would get for the building of the court facilities.

Franck, in a later interview, said he stands behind his figures and said the 30 percent breaks down like this: a 12 percent increase in the first year of the capital budget, and a 9 percent increase in the following two years. As for the grants that Kim is expecting, Franck said they don't really make a difference.

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