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Budgets Proposed In Saratoga Springs, Clifton Park

Spending increases are planned in two Saratoga County communities in 2018, but officials say there will be a minimal impact on taxpayers.

Property taxes will remain flat in Saratoga Springs in 2018.

That’s according to a comprehensive budgetrecently proposed by city Finance Commissioner Michele Madigan.

“I was able to maintain a zero increase in the property taxes,” said Madigan. “But this is a budget that uses $1.5 million of fund balance, it uses $735,000 in a reserve that we had called the tax stabilization reserve, and I’m using $250,000 out of our retirement reserve to make this budget work.”

Madigan said city reserves are healthy.

The $46.1 million general operating budget is up about $600,000, or 1.3 percent, from last year’s adopted budget. Madigan the hike is attributed mainly to personnel and benefit cost increases.

At the same time, Madigan said tax revenues have been strong but flat.

“Sales tax revenue is very strong, mortgage tax  revenue is very strong. Occupancy tax, we’re dealing with a bit of an issue there with the onset of Airbnb and HomeAway.”

Five budget workshops are scheduled between October 11th and November 2nd.

Down the Northway, Clifton Park in Southern Saratoga County saw a decrease in spending with no tax increase in 2017.

For 2018, town supervisor Phil Barrett said there will be a less than 3 percent increase in spending.

“But there will be no General Fund town tax again in 2018, which is very important to every Clifton Park taxpayer. Our highway tax will go up just a couple of dollars for the average home.”

General Fund spending will rise from 2017’s $16.8 million to $17.2 million.

Like in Saratoga Springs and in many places across the state, personnel costs including health benefits are rising in Clifton Park.

“We’ve taken great steps over the last 12 years or so to reduce the overall workforce and employee expense,”  said Barrett. “But healthcare costs are rising and we are making some strategic investments in town buildings and parks as well as new equipment.”

Barrett says the town’s tax rate is low and fund balance is healthy. Overall, he says the town is in good fiscal shape.

A public hearing on Clifton Park’s proposed spending plan is scheduled for November 9th.

Also Friday, Troy’s mayor unveiled that city’s spending plan for next year, which includes a 1.174 percent increase.

Lucas Willard is a news reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011. He produces and hosts The Best of Our Knowledge and WAMC Listening Party.
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