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Capital programs in Saratoga Springs take a budget hit

The City of Saratoga Springs unveiled its capital program recommendations for the coming year on Friday, Aug. 14, and the city's tough financial situation was reflected in the fact it was the most austere proposal in recent memory.

As per city charter, the recommendations were drafted by a committee chaired by Mayor Scott Johnson consisting of representatives from each city department. The resulting proposal called for $1.65 million to be bonded in 2010, $400,000 of which would be covered by a separate water fund.

The figure is well below what has been recommended or adopted in the past two years. In 2008, the City Council included $13.3 million of capital programs in the budget, and included $2.15 million the following year.

Obviously, the current economy is the driving force behind these recommendations, said Johnson, who added that the committee is suggesting only the most important items.

"These are projects that if we did not undertake in the year 2010, there would be a risk towards providing essential services," he said.

The committee recommended six items for 2010. Topping the list was $400,000 to start renovations to the Canfield Casino, which would include improving handicapped access and making repairs to the roof and foundation. The city has been looking to improve the historic building for some time.

"There are a number of structural issues there, on both the interior and exterior," said Public Works Commissioner Anthony "Skip" Scirocco, who went on to note that any improvements made to the casino can be considered a wise investment, as the city rents out the building for a variety of events.

"The city generates a lot of revenue from the structure," he said.

An additional $300,000 per year for five years was suggested for continuing casino renovations.

Replacing parts of the visitor center, also an historic building, made it to second on the list. For $175,000, roof and faCade repairs would be undertaken.

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