The proposed 2016 city budget is higher than this year’s spending plan, but property owners will nevertheless see a tiny tax decrease, city Finance Commissioner Michele Madigan said Tuesday.
The proposed budget totals $43.8 million, up about $2 million from this year, but the proposed property tax would be $6.06 per $1,000 assessed value in the city’s inner district, and $5.98 in the outer district — a decrease, in each case, of about one cent. The savings amount to about $2.70 cents per year on a $250,000 house.
Anticipated increases in sales tax, mortgage tax and room occupancy tax revenue are expected to cover most of the higher costs. “All of these revenues are indicators of the city’s continued success story as a year-round destination and desireable place to live and work,” Madigan said.
Madigan, who presented the proposed budget to the City Council Tuesday night, said contractual wage increases and health insurance costs accounted for most of the increase, while most other city expenses will remain at or near current levels. The Public Safety Department — which includes the Police and Fire departments — accounts for 55 percent of all city spending.
While there’s only one new city job included in the budget, Madigan noted that the Public Safety Department has applied for a $542,000 federal grant that could allow it to hire eight additional firefighters, enough to put a second ambulance into service.
She said she is also including only $1.8 million in state aid for hosting a video lottery terminal racino, even though the city has received $2.3 million in each of the last two years. She said the lower number is prudent, given that any higher amount requires special action by the state Legislature.
The proposed budget includes $5.87 million to fund up to 23 capital projects, including the $1.165 million purchase of the development rights to the Pitney farm on the city’s West Side, and $1 million to address potential contamination issues on land next to the city landfill on Weibel Avenue. About $5.17 million of the proposed capital project spending would be borrowed.
Madigan said she met with all city departments during the budget preparation process. The City Council will hold a series of four budget workshops starting this Thursday.
A public hearing on the budget will be held at 6:45 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 20, to be followed by a second hearing at a date still be be determined. The City Council has until the end of November to make any amendments and adopt the budget.
“I have been committed to maintaining a stable tax rate each year of my tenure and remain so now,” said Madigan, a Democrat who is running for her third two-year term this November.
The city has between $4 million and $6 million in surplus funds, an amount Madigan said is appropriate in case of emergency. The proposed budget draws $750,000 from the surplus to balance the budget.
The proposed budget will be posted on the city’s website at www.saratoga-springs.org.
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Categories: News, Schenectady County