The economic downturn will continue to be a big problem for the City of Saratoga Springs next year, according to Mayor Scott Johnson, and the best way to fight its effects is through fiscal conservatism.
That was overwhelmingly the message of Johnson's State of the City address, delivered Sunday, Jan. 25, at the Saratoga Springs City Center. Speaking for about 40 minutes, Johnson painted a troubling picture of the year ahead, but in a nod to President Barack Obama, also urged the city to tackle problems responsibly and as a unified community.
The state of our city remains strong and committed as ever to preserve and enhance our quality of life, said Johnson. "We must at this time make the tough and perhaps unpopular decisions to ensure fiscal responsibility. The charge to our City Council is obvious: Fiscal conservatism, better management and improved efficiency. If nothing else, a tax-and-spend policy has no place in our current approach."
Though the mayor's calls to rein in spending were met with applause from the gathered officials and dignitaries, he stressed that many of the initiatives to build up services and infrastructure are still within reach, including plans for a public safety building. The City Council is leaning toward instating paid parking downtown to fund the project.
"This is the first real opportunity for the city to provide a needed service without overburdening the taxpayer," said Johnson, adding that paid parking is "the only realistic source of revenue to pay for these services."
He maintained an unflinching stance on the construction of an indoor recreation center at the Southside Rec Fields, saying that to put off the already bonded project would be fiscally irresponsible.
"To now abandon the project would make one thing certain: You, the taxpayer, would lose at least $1 million that can never be recouped."