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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, October 5

2012 Comprehensive budget post-view

The combination of skateboarders and the city budget at last night's (Oct. 4) city council meeting was somewhat surreal. But I guess it makes sense, because by the end of Ivins' budget presentation I was as tired as if I had dug out the skate bowl myself.

It was long, mostly dry (as these things often are) and I should have left breadcrumbs through it because by the end I was pretty lost.

From what I gleaned, the city is better off than it was a year ago. Through some financial gymnastics (a term I got from DA James Murphy to describe white collar crime -- though I'm not implying anything by using it here) Ivins and Christine Gillmett-Brown explained how the tax cap doesn't mean 2 percent for Saratoga Springs, but actually means 4.8 percent.

All you need to know is:

(Courtesy of the New York State Office of the Comptroller. For a better view, click it.)

Regardless, the tax rate is only proposed to raise about .54 percent, on average. District by district that could vary slightly, but for the most part it means that the $6.07 per $1,000 of property owned tax rate won't be changing.

Of course, as has been pointed out in the comments of the story and in a press release from finance commissioner candidate Michele Madigan, the comprehensive budget itself wasn't presented, only a synopsis of it, something she said violates the charter.

"Those of us who attended the Council Meeting last night were expecting
the Commissioner to fulfill the duties of his office and lead a presentation on our city’s finances and his proposed 2012 budget," Madigan said in a statement released today. "His failure to submit the Proposed 2012 Comprehensive Budget last night, as required by the Charter, further illustrates that he is not fit for the position he holds and should not be reelected.”

Her release also includes the various components that are required to be in the comprehensive budget.

I will point out, though, that the charter only requires that the commissioner submit the budget to the city council at the first October meeting, not present the full budget at the meeting.

It is on file in the Accounts Department for anyone's reading pleasure (or lack thereof). And I keep being assured it should be online as early as tonight.

Also at the meeting, Saratoga Citizen organizer Pat Kane took advantage of the public comment, which first he lambasted for its brevity. Each member of the public is only allotted two minutes (something that is rarely enforced but always hanging over commenters heads). "I think it's a shame a citizen can only get two minutes in front of you people," he told the council, going on to say its "embarrassing."

Then he challenged the city council to pass the budget before election day. "You have the legal capability to approve the 2012 budget before then," he said, adding "shenanigans" can happen when budgets and elections mix. "There will always be a period of time where if you wait you could have more numbers," he said, undercutting Ivins' primary reason for advocating against that strategy.

Later, Ivins' responded during his presentation. "That is just not good financial planning," he said.

Finally, Kane also reminded the city council that thousands of Saratogians filled out a petition for the opportunity to vote on charter change.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

So where is the 2012 comprehensive budget? It's still not online. Okay, we can view it at city hall - it's 250 pages. That doesn't seem to really cover the spirit of actually presenting a comprehensive budget now does it?

October 6, 2011 at 12:27 PM 

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