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The Saratogian Newsroom blog, complete with thoughts and commentary from our newsroom staff and regular posts on happenings around town.

Wednesday, September 21

Back in time for politics

Hello all.

I noticed last night (with the help of Dan "Fun in Saratoga" De Federicis) that it's been more than a month since my last post. Time flies when you have good duty. So sorry to anyone out there who has been checking in.

But I'm back, and just in time for election season, in the city and the nation. Funny, like Christmas elections seem to stretch a few days earlier every cycle.

Mayor Scott Johnson announced his candidacy over the weekend.

We discussed in the newsroom Tuesday whether we should put it on the front or not.

Brent Wilkes got front page when he announced, but he also did so alongside Michele Madigan and Christian Mathiesen who are running for Commissioner of Finance and Commissioner of Public Safety respectively at a presser in the park-- that means pictures and info about people many Saratoga Springs voters don't know about.

Johnson didn't make quite that splash.

He sent a press release, which actually got stuck in my SPAM filter, so I didn't see it until after he sent it out and late into the news day after we had decided most of what was going in the paper.

Also, as Johnson himself said, it's kind of assumed he would run, so we opted for 2. If it had been a slower news day he would have been on the front. As it stands, that day Alex Grant's toxicology report, County shortfall in taxes, an oil spill on South Broadway and City Council were on the front.

Not that Wilkes, Madigan and Mathiesen announced on a slow day. They shared the front page with Colegate news, the Saratoga Springs high school scandal over the gold-toothed yearbook photo and Derrick LeGall being named "Citizen of the Year" by the Elks, but the nothing needed to be bumped for any of that to make the front.

And all of the other candidates also seem to be ramping up their campaigns.

Now, to be clear, I am going to be posting a lot of statements, quotes and info about candidates over the next couple months, but none of that should be construed as me endorsing anyone.

That is up to the editors.

Michele Madigan, who has attended most City Council meetings in recent memory, made the following statement at Tuesday's meeting:

"I would like to strongly suggest that the 2012 budget NOT (her caps, she gave me a copy of her statement) include a property tax increase. As of December 2010 our unreserved unappropriated fund balance was $4.2 million. A year ago at this time we were told by the Finance Commissioner that this would not be the case, and that the fund balance would be depleted by the end of 2010. This was the rationale for further spending cuts and property tax increases for 2011 on top of the 2009 year-end layoffs and the 2010 property tax increase. Since the fund balance is once again at a reasonably healthy level, that we received $1.5 million in unexpected VLT revenue this year, and the expectation that 2011 sales tax revenues will be higher than anticipated in the 2011 budget, I would hope that we will not need a property tax increase next year. However, I am also very concerned that we do all that we can to ensure our public safety and public works employees are not subject to further layoffs. I am aware that some of those laid off in December 2009 are back at work and it is my understanding that much of this is due to grant funding that expires in 2012. I respectufully request-- and strongly suggest-- that the Commissioner and the Council do all that they can do avoid property tax increases while ensuring appropriate staffing levels of public safety employees and public works employees."

Of course, I would be remiss not to mention something the city's auditor from Willard G. Reynolds of Bollam, Sheedy, Torani and Co. said about a half hour later when discussing the city's $4.2 million fund balance: "The main thing to avoid is dipping into the fund balance for recurring costs. They should be covered by recurring revenue (taxes."

More election coverage to come.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I note that the Wirth, Ivins and Johnson signs are going up on City and State ROW. Please don't clutter the public's property with your silly signs.

Keep them on private property were they belong. Don't you have any respect for your community. John Roohan would have a fit. And Public Works, please pull them up.

September 24, 2011 at 1:22 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Madigan is not saying that the fund balance should be spent. She is pointing out that Ivins said he planned to spend the fund balance down to zero in 2010 (which is extremely bad practice, as even he admits now), but it turns out there was $4.2M there! I don't hear anyone other than the current Commissioner saying we should spend the fund balance - he even claimed in his recent Readers View that he planned to do it!

October 4, 2011 at 9:54 PM 

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