New police station funds not in budget
SARATOGA SPRINGS Additional funding for the city’s proposed new police station is out of the 2009 capital budget, Mayor Scott Johnson confirmed on Thursday.
The capital budget process is not yet complete so officials could still put additional funds in later.
The $8 million that was approved for the project by the previous City Council last fall for 2008 was never borrowed or spent as debate about the project took place.
To spend that money now, it would take a four-fifths vote by the City Council and an amendment to the 2009 capital budget, said Ken Ivins, commissioner of finance.
Commissioner of Public Safety Ron Kim, who is in Denver for the Democratic National Convention, said Thursday he understood that the committee was expected to vote whether to include $1.7 million in next year’s capital budget for the public safety building and that the measure was voted down.
That amount would have brought the total budgeted for the building up to $9.7 million, Kim’s estimate for the most scaled-down structure.
The meeting was conducted behind closed doors Thursday afternoon at Johnson’s direction, and he said after the meeting the capital budget is not complete and he didn’t wish to comment on it until it is. Other officials referred questions about the budget and the meeting to Johnson.
“My understanding is it’s not a public meeting,” Johnson said. The workshops, which the mayor leads and which include a representative of each department, usually the deputy, were open to the public as recently as last year.
Johnson said the committee has been meeting for the last two months drawing up next year’s capital program.
Public hearings will be held on the capital budget next month after the program is unveiled at the Sept. 2 City Council meeting.
Kim said he will keep lobbying to have the additional money included in the capital budget, since he maintains that $8 million is not enough to build a police station.
“I’m not lying to the public,” he said. “I’m not going to say a $9.7 million building … is really only going to cost us $8 million.”
“In the last four years, the public safety station has been a priority for this city,” Kim said.
He added that taxpayers are being taxed for the $8 million now, although Ivins said that’s not exactly true.
“What do we do with that money that we’ve already collected?” Kim asked.
Ivins said the money isn’t sitting around.
Since this year’s revenue from video lottery terminal machines is $422,000 short of the expected amount, that basically cancels out the $500,000 credit that former finance commissioner Matt McCabe moved into the debt service fund to pay the first installment of the public safety station construction.
Ivins expects to ask the City Council to approve a budget adjustment soon to balance the books on that issue.
Postponing building the police station will only mean greater tax increases in the future when the cost of building materials rises even more, Kim said.
“This is a vote for increased taxes.”