Saratoga Springs bonding talk turns into public safety facility debate

A presentation on the bonding process being used to build an indoor recreation facility during the Saratoga Springs City Council meeting Tuesday, Aug. 5, led to a debate on the proposed public safety facility.

Commissioner of Finance Kenneth Ivins said the city was putting the cart before the horse with its capital construction projects by following the process used to build the rec center. In that case, securing bonds was one of the first things done, before design was completed.

Ivins said bonding should be one of the last steps in the capital construction process.

Public Safety Commissioner Ron Kim took the opportunity to reiterate his message of prioritized city spending, stating the city should build a proposed public safety facility instead an indoor recreation complex.

But Ivins said the funds bonded for the rec center in 2006 and 2007 will expire in April 2009 and July 2010, respectively, so the city must begin construction on the facility before that time in order to avoid penalties.

Addressing the possibility of transferring the bonded funds from the rec center project to the proposed public safety facility, Ivins said the cost to close the bonds on the rec center and transfer the funds to the public safety building would be more than $868,000.

Kim addressed criticisms that the 'true cost' of the proposed safety facility is not being disclosed.

"Have you asked yourselves what is the true cost of the rec center?" he asked. Kim accused the other members of the City Council of "steamrolling along" the indoor recreation facility project.

Mayor Scott Johnson again pointed to the construction window and the high cost of transferring funds to the safety facility. "We're pushing along on the rec center project because it needs to be done," he said.

Commissioner of Accounts John Franck said he wanted to see a more comprehensive approach to a new public safety facility, which would incorporate public parking and courts into a new facility rather than the current proposal of a three-story police station in the parking lot behind City Hall.

"The bottom line, commissioner, is your project's dead because you don't have a four-fifths vote," Franck said.

Kim said he has circulated a letter to the members of the council outlining options for the new facility.""

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