SARATOGA SPRINGS — The Saratoga Springs City Council last week approved a 2020 city budget that added about $500,000 to the original 2020 budget proposal, but did so without raising property taxes.
The $48.7 million budget drew down the city fund balance and extra revenue from increases this year in sales and mortgage tax receipts so that taxes didn’t have to rise, said Finance Commissioner Michele Madigan.
“I believe this is an excellent budget for the city and taxpayers, with a stable tax rate and sufficient appropriations to face the 2020 budget year feeling protected as well as enthusiastic,” said Madigan, who was recently re-elected to a fifth two-year term.
The average tax rate will drop 0.05 percent, with the inside district rate at $6.07 per $1,000 assessed value and the outside-district rate at $6.01 per $1,000. Madigan said it is the eighth consecutive year in which tax rates have either held steady or dropped.
During three budget workshops, the roughly $500,000 in additional spending was added to hire two new police officers, to create a two-person recreation trail maintenance team for the city’s growing trail network, to add personnel in the building and planning department, and to hire a full-time cyber-security person in the finance office, to prevent or counter cyber-attacks.
“Albany has been attacked, Saratoga County has been attacked. We need to do something,” Madigan said.
The budget also for the first time includes $20,000 in funding for outreach work by Shelters of Saratoga, beyond the support the city already provides to Shelters’ Code Blue winter homeless shelter program.
The total spending increase from the 2019 city budget is $1.6 million, with other spending increases covering contractual wage increases, additional funding for information technology, increased fuel and other commodity costs, and increases in health insurance costs.
Other city priorities for the year will include completing the $10 million post-lightning strike renovation of City Hall and planning for an East Side fire and emergency response station, tentatively planned on Henning Road on New York Racing Association property. The budget includes $600,000 toward design costs in the proposed capital budget.
The complete 2020 Comprehensive Budget is available on the city’s website.