Saratoga Springs city budget uncertain

"We have to weigh all the numbers before we make the final decision," said Ivins.

Salvation may lie in the arrival of a GlobalFoundries microchip manufacturing facility in Malta, which is expected to drive additional growth and taxes into Saratoga County. That won't solve the upcoming budget cycle, though.

"It's going to take probably two years before we start seeing the effect, and four years before we see the full effect," said Ivins.

It is becoming increasingly clear that enacting a system of paid parking in the downtown area would go a long way toward relieving the city of its mounting fiscal burdens. Various estimates say it could bring the city anywhere from $2 to $4.5 million annually, depending on the scope and terms.

Paid parking came to the forefront when several developers suggested it as a way to pay for the police station. Public Safety Commissioner Ron Kim is standing behind a plan by local builder Bonacio Construction that promises no cost impact to the city.

Ivins presented his own concept for making paid parking work. He suggested that the size of the proposed High Rock parking garage be scaled down to 700 spaces, and to build the Woodlawn parking garage as per Bonacio's proposal.

Other twists included keeping street parking free, but doubling fines for exceeding the time limit; restricting time limits to draw people to paid parking and keeping vehicles turning over; and offering yearly passes that add one hour to all areas. Those passes could also be sold to merchants at a discount, then resold to seasonal visitors.

Throughout his presentation, Ivins made it clear that he was soliciting the input of the public when it comes to paid parking and the budgeting process.

"I'm looking for the public to start discussing this," said Ivins, who added that he has already heard impassioned arguments for and against paid parking. "I've heard the whole gamut already, just in the last three weeks."

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