SLIGHT TAX INCREASE PROPOSED

Finance official says resolving all contracts would be hard to absorb

SCOTT WALDMAN
Section: Capital Region,  Page: D2

Date: Friday, October 4, 2013

Saratoga Springs


The city of Saratoga Springs has proposed a $40.3 million budget for 2014.


The spending plan calls for a 0.68 percent property tax increase and raises spending by about $460,000 over the current $39.8 million budget. A homeowner with a property valued at $350,000 would pay about $14 more in 2014 than this year, if the plan is approved.


Finance Commissioner Michele Madigan said she was concerned about the city's seven different union contracts, all of which will be expired by the end of the year. Two contracts expired in 2008 and four expired last year. She said the increase from the resolution of all the contracts would be extremely difficult to absorb in a tax year.


"I have grave concerns about the city's unsettled Union contracts," she wrote in her proposal. "Contracts that have been unsettled for 2, 4, or 6 years become nearly impossible to accommodate under a 2% property tax cap. Simply put, the city has no combination of revenues that can keep pace with multiple years of wages, and little way of anticipating when and how much to be prepared."


Madigan has said the city's services were cut to critical levels in recent years as a result of the recession and that she is trying to bring back some of what was lost. The city had lost seven police officers and seven firefighters in 2010 due to layoffs. Her new budget proposes hiring a police officer and firefighter. She also wants to add a human resources administrator and IT employee.


The city will hold budget hearings in the coming weeks to accept public comment. A final budget must be approved in November.


The city will see a $150,000 decline in sales tax and a $331,251 increase in video lottery revenue. The improving housing market means Saratoga Springs will receive a 54 percent increase in mortgage tax, a $249,720 jump over last year.


Madigan said 89 percent of the budget went to mandated expenses, including wages, benefits, retirement, insurance, gas, oil and utilities, leaving only $4.4 million for other expenses.


swaldman@timesunion.com - 518-454-5080 - @518Schools