Saratoga Springs budget sees cash infusion

After a lengthy budgeting process fraught with disagreements, the City of Saratoga Springs has come up with a budget that not only will keep many municipal jobs, but will require a lower tax hike for city residents than originally planned.

Commissioner of Finance Kenneth Ivins unveiled the new proposed budget during a City Council meeting on the evening of Monday, Nov. 3. After meeting with department heads, he drafted a budget that stands at $38.5 million, about $400,000 larger than the previous proposal.

Overall, I think it's a good compromise; we put a few things back in, said Ivins.

It keeps 17 part-time positions in the Department of Public Works that were set to be cut and restores $60,000 of the $100,000 cut from the police overtime budget. Taking advice from an October presentation from Chief of Police Edward Moore, the city will also seek to hire two additional officers in an attempt to cut future overtime expenditures by $150,000 to $200,000.

The new officers will be paid for by an upcoming Department of Conservation grant for the city's Energy to Ice program, which uses methane gas from the former Weibel Avenue landfill to power ice compressors. A grant of $526,000 is possible, though Ivins has budgeted $450,000 in what he describes as "one-shot money."

Other savings, such as an unexpected reduction in the city's liability insurance premiums equating to about $100,000, allows the new budget to lower the property tax increase from a 3.8 percent to 2.7 percent. A property valued at $200,000 would see about a $30 increase in taxes.

In the Department of Public Safety, Commissioner Ron Kim identified four possible sources of new revenue. By charging for repeated false alarms, accident reports and photos, towing and instituting property maintenance fees, the city could pick up around $100,000.

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