Saratoga Springs City Council still tweaking budget

Ivins said residents had responded to his request for e-mails about the VLT aid, and of the 50 he received only two suggested leaving the entire VLT aid in the budget. The city will continue to lobby the state.

Public Safety Commissioner Ron Kim thinks that taking the aid out will effectively end the lobbying efforts, however.

"All of us here have been working pretty hard getting this VLT money back," he said. "I think what we're saying to the state is, 'You can take that out.'"

The city's $4 million reserve fund would be raided for $853,000 to avoid a double-digit tax hike.

"I'm not thrilled about that, but coming up with another $800,000 was becoming difficult," said Ivins.

Some council members said that the city should go a step further and take another $546,000 out to reduce the increase to zero.

Accounts Commissioner John Franck said Saratoga Springs should follow the federal government's lead and leverage its resources.

"I think we should bail out the taxpayers," said Franck.

"I'm not ready to do that," said Ivins. "We're taking down the reserve, and I don't like that at all."

The council did not adopt the budget on Monday. The commissioners were reviewing it for the first time and wanted to take a closer look. Ivins admitted the proposal might have more room for savings.

"I think there is some fat left in this budget. I just need help finding it," he said.

Public Works Commissioner Anthony Scirocco said that his department and the Department of Public Safety"the city's two largest departments"would already be struggling to operate with the amended budget.

"The reason we didn't sit down and give you more cuts is because we have nothing left to give," said Scirocco. "We're a city of tourism, and nobody's going to come to a city that's dirty and not safe."

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