Finance commissioner Ken Ivins wants city officials to come up with their own ideas to balance the budget if they don’t like paid parking.
Ivins, who budgeted for paid parking to generate $1.3 million this year, suggested on Tuesday that the City Council bring other ideas to come up with that money or make cuts.
It was the first public indication he has made that his paid parking plan may not have the required three votes to pass. Paid parking is unpopular among many residents, landlords and business owners who fear it will drive tourists and shoppers elsewhere.
Others say paying a few bucks won’t deter people from coming downtown and the revenue is necessary to take the burden off property owners.
Public meetings on the paid-parking issue will be held on the following dates:
u Today at 2 p.m. in City Hall — bids will be opened for a paid parking management system.
u Tuesday, Feb. 23 at 2 p.m. at City Hall — the parking advisory committee will discuss parking management bids and recommend one to the City Council.
u March 2 at 6 p.m. at City Hall — City Council workshop to discuss paid parking or other ideas to balance the budget.
u March 8 at 6:30 p.m. at the Canfield Casino — the public can weigh in on paid parking.
City officials said they can legally charge to park at the parking deck off Church Street that was built with the county’s help, but money raised from that facility has to fund operation and maintenance of the garage, not be poured back into the general fund.
Mayor Scott Johnson said depending on how many people park at the Church Street deck, it may raise more money than the city spends on maintenance.
“We may have a problem of not being able to charge in that facility all the time,” he said.
In other business on Tuesday, Commissioner of Public Works Anthony “Skip” Scirocco said he will recommend the water and sewer budgets each increase by 3 percent to 5 percent this year.
On the sewer side, the increase will be needed to pay a $353,000 hike in the city’s payment to the county sewer district.
Scirocco did not have specific rate increases at Tuesday’s meeting and said he would have more information at the March 16 meeting, when the city must approve new rates in advance of first quarter bills being mailed out in April. Last year, water and sewer rates rose 4 percent to 6 percent, and the year before that, water rates were hiked between 10 percent and 15 percent and sewer rates 5 percent.
Officials have cited heavy summer rainfall and efficient new appliances as reasons they have had to raise water and sewer rates in recent years, because people are using less water but the city still needs to pay its water staff and keep up the infrastructure.
The water and sewer funds are not subsidized by other taxes.
The water fund pays to operate the Excelsior Avenue water treatment plant, wells at Geyser Crest and Interlaken, maintenance and employee salaries and benefits, while most of the sewer fund pays Saratoga County Sewer District.