Saratoga Springs city officials voted 4-1 in favor of more than $4.7 million in bonding for 20 projects ranging from infrastructure improvements to emergency trucks Tuesday, Feb. 19, but, to the ire of Public Safety Department Commissioner Ron Kim, $8 million in bonds for a new public safety building wasn't included.
Kim voted against the other bonds because the money for the new building wasn't included.
Before casting the sole dissenting vote, Kim squared off with freshmen Republican commissioners and Mayor Scott Johnson, for what he said was pounding at the chest for fiscal conservatism while reneging on campaign promises.
We can all thump our chests about being fiscal conservatives and that we all want to save taxpayers money, Kim said. 'We can't delay. We have to move forward."
For the City Council to approve the other 20 items to be bonded and to not bond for a new public safety building is unreasonable and unfair to taxpayers, said Kim. In 2007, the council already pushed through tax increases to cover the cost of one year's debt service, at about $500,000 to be paid on an $8 million bond, he added. He couldn't understand why all of the newly elected council members " Johnson, Finance Commissioner Ken Ivins and Pubic Works Commissioner Skip Scirocco " all campaigned for a new public safety building, and when it came time to set years of studies and bids to action, they didn't act.
"It makes no sense to me go ahead and put this in the budget," said Commissioner of Accounts John Franck, a Democrat.
Franck underscored past reports by construction contractors that put a new public safety building well above $8 million, if not more than double.
Franck took issue with statements made by Kim alleging that if the city didn't bond eventually, it would have to come back to securing the money and would have to retain expensive legal representation again, wasting taxpayer money. According to Franck, it has been the practice of past councils to over-bond on capital improvements and pay costly interest on the money. He used the bonding for a new recreation center as an example. That money, to cover a proposed $6.5 million recreational center, has been sitting for three or four years while the city pays interest on the bond, said Franck. The interest on $6 million costs more than legal counsel, he said.