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Posted on: October 1, 2019

TAX DECREASE for the City of Saratoga Springs in Proposed 2020 City Budget

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City of Saratoga Springs
Office of the Commissioner of Finance
Michele Madigan, Commissioner of Finance



                                FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:               For Contact:
                                September 20, 2019                             Commissioner Madigan: (518) 587-3550 x 2577


TAX DECREASE for the City of Saratoga Springs in Proposed 2020 City Budget


There will be an average property tax rate decrease of 0.05% for City taxpayers in the coming year under the proposed 2020 Saratoga Springs City Budget presented at Tuesday’s City Council Meeting on October 1, 2019 by Finance Commissioner Michele Madigan.  This is the eighth City budget that Commissioner Madigan has put forth with a decreased or stable property tax rate. The proposed 2020 tax rates are: inside district - $6.0707 per $1,000 of assessed property value; outside district - $6.0090 per $1,000 of assessed property value.

As Finance Commissioner, Madigan is charged with taking input from each department and creating a balanced annual budget, one that has sufficient estimated revenues to meet all expenses. Madigan states: “The 2020 Comprehensive Budget is driven by my continued commitment to a stable tax rate in the face of the rising costs of good government, unexpected expenses, and the New York State property tax cap.”

The City’s proposed general operating budget will be $48.2 million under Madigan’s plan, an increase of $1.1 million over the adopted 2019 budget. Contractual wage increases, additional funding for information technology, increased commodity costs, and health insurance accounts for much of the year-over-year change.  Personnel and benefits are up 1.9% and 2.5% in 2020, respectively. 

Commissioner Madigan's 2020 presentation will focus on several of the priorities facing the City, including the successful renovation of City Hall, the creation of an East Side Fire & EMS Station, improvements to the Loughberry Lake Dam, increased support to the City's cyber-security efforts, additional staffing to the Police and Fire departments, a comprehensive plan to address the City’s expanding trail network, and a long-term solution to address the City’s homelessness issue, including a Code Blue facility.

The main revenue sources supporting the operating budget remain largely the same as 2019, with property tax and sales tax representing over 60% of the City's total revenue, followed by departmental income and State/Federal aid, which make up 10.2% and 9.2% of the revenue budget respectively.  

The 2020 Budget counts both reserve funds and fund balance among its revenue resources.  Madigan states, “The City has built these funds up with taxpayer dollars; using them to maintain a stable property tax rate is the best way to utilize these funds. Essentially we are giving these dollars directly back to the taxpayer in order to maintain taxes and services.” Amounts supporting the general operating budget include funds from unassigned fund balance ($2.5M) and the Retirement Reserve.  “With no new or existing revenue source able to completely offset the significant increases in wages and other expense, the use of reserves and fund balance is wholly appropriate. Reserves have been funded with taxpayer dollars.  Taxpayers deserve to use these reserves rather than pay more taxes or receive diminished services, especially when we expect to continue to maintain adequate reserve balances subsequent to the budget being adopted. That said, as I did last year, I will look to reduce the City's usage of Fund Balance as we get updated revenue information and move from the Comprehensive Budget to the Amended Budget,” says Commissioner Madigan. 

Two budget workshops are currently scheduled: Tuesday, October 22nd and Thursday October 24th, both at 5:00pm and at the Recreation Center. Certain dates are designated for specific departments, with time allotted at each workshop for general discussion after departments are finished. There will also be a Public Comment period at each workshop. Additional workshops may be scheduled as needed.

Commissioner Madigan points out that the City is in excellent financial health under her administration.  The City’s bond rating was recently affirmed by Standard & Poor’s as “AA+” with a “stable outlook”.  S&P noted that their rating reflects the City's "strong management", "strong budgetary performance", and "very strong budgetary flexibility".

The complete 2020 Comprehensive Budget proposal will be available on the City’s website subsequent to Commissioner Madigan's presentation: www.saratoga-springs.org