SARATOGA SPRINGS -- A week after an advisory committee administered the last rites to the city's paid parking plan, the proposal was declared dead by the city council.

"Reluctantly, I am taking it off the table at this point," Finance Commissioner Ken Ivins told an overflow crowd that spilled into the City Hall lobby Tuesday night.

Ivins included $1.35 million in projected revenue from paid parking in the city's 2010 budget to compensate for a shortfall that had already resulted in a 7 percent tax hike and the loss of 18 full-time and 16 part-time positions.

The proposal called for a paid parking plan to go into effect by May 1.

"It was a fairytale to begin with. And Cinderella's not coming," said Accounts Commissioner John Franck. "Paid parking is dead."

The proposal required majority approval from the five-person city council, but it appeared that Ivins stood as the lone councilmember supporting it. Mayor Scott Johnson, who was absent due to an illness, had previously been critical of using paid parking as a budget-fixing measure.

The city must now look to deal with that $1.35 million budget gap with either new revenue or more job cuts. Another 30 or so more positions could be lost, Ivins said. A public meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. Monday at the Canfield Casino in Congress Park to discuss the city's next move.

Among the revenue-raising ideas expected to be discussed are a closer examination of the $1.2 million in unpaid parking tickets currently owed to the city, and a revisiting of the city's cable franchise agreement with Time-Warner Cable.

The current contract delivers between $250,000 and $300,000 annually to the city but hasn't been updated or renegotiated in several years.

The Department of Public Works could be an unexpected source of funds for the current budget year. Commissioner Anthony "Skip" Scirocco said his department might be in a position to return $400,000 to $500,000 to the city because it appears the DPW came in under its budget allotment for 2009. Scirocco said he will have the details "within a few weeks."

Members of the business community were happy with the shelving of the paid parking proposal, but not everyone was pleased.

City resident Philip Diamond suggested the city look at a paid parking spot as "a commodity" and institute a paid parking plan in the summertime.

And city resident Kyle York said killing the plan before allowing discussions to run their course was a "grossly irresponsible" move by the city council. The meeting next Monday was initially scheduled to discuss the four paid parking proposals the city received. Those discussions will now focus on how the city will make up the shortfall.


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