Spa residents could see 8.48 percent tax hike

Commissioner of Finance Ken Ivins presented what he called the most difficult and challenging comprehensive budget he's had to draw up, at the Tuesday, Oct. 5, Saratoga Springs City Council meeting. Ivins said his objectives while drawing up a budget for 2011 were to keep taxes as low as possible while cutting the least amount of services.

Ivins proposed an 8.48 percent property tax hike, a move he said he personally felt was too high and "unacceptable," but he said he was having problems finding a way to get it lower.

"We're not the only ones. All over the Capital Region, as well as all over the U.S., communities are having difficult times," said Ivins.

That increase would mean a homeowner with a home valued at $200,000 would see taxes go up $98. To get the property tax increase to 0 percent, though, would require finding more than $1.4 million to cut elsewhere and the loss of some 32 jobs, something Ivins said would "cut our ability to adequately serve the citizens of our community."

Ivins also proposed moving some city dispatchers over to the county, saying the county already handles dispatching services like 911. That move would save about a half million dollars and also result in the hiring of two clerical positions to handle data input, an effort that would make more information more readily available to officers. Ivins also said he wanted to keep a police captain position unfunded, which would eventually be the equivalent of a patrolman being unfunded, and he wanted to leave four fire positions unfilled until grants came in.

"I guarantee that no matter what I propose, there will be someone very irate with me," said Ivins. "This has been the toughest budget."

Comissioner of Public Works Anthony Scirocco said while he believes Ivins put together what he felt was a good comprehensive budget, he was looking forward to the three workshops where he could get input from residents and work closer with other councilmembers to make some adjustments.

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