After weeks of debates, calculations and politicking, the City Council of Saratoga Springs on Tuesday, July 7, agreed in a split vote to make mid-year budget cuts and reach into its fund balance to stave off economic crisis.
The city moved to close a $2.8 million revenue shortfall with roughly $1.3 million in budget cuts and $1.5 million from its coffers. The crisis is largely the result of a slumping sales- and property-tax take combined with the state government's decision to withhold nearly $1.9 million in video lottery terminal aid a decision that was made after the city passed its own budget.
Commissioner of Finance Ken Ivins, whose office drafted the amendments, said that the cuts were intended to avoid layoffs and maintain essential functions.
I tried my best to come up with a compromise that would least impact the services to the residents while trying to make the thing balance," he said. "It's a compromise, like anything else."
Originally, Ivins had sought $2 million in cuts, but talks with other city leaders pared that number down.
Some positions will be removed, reduced or left unfilled. The only full time job lost will be an executive assistant Public Safety office. Also in the city's biggest department, two dispatcher positions will be cut and police compensational time and fire overtime and compensational time will be curtailed.
In other departments, a number of primarily part-time office positions will see trimmed hours or elimination altogether.
In addition to a number of big-ticket items like Department of Public Works equipment and outside financial services, there are many small reductions such holding off on the purchase of sports supplies for the Recreation Department or new uniforms for police officers.
A line-by-line summary of the budget amendments can be found on the city's Web site, www.saratoga-springs.org.