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SARATOGA SPRINGS -- Maybe it should read: Time Expired.

The prospect of instituting a paid parking plan in the city in 2010 suffered a serious setback Tuesday afternoon.

A 12-member advisory committee charged with forwarding its recommendation about a paid parking plan to the City Council voted to not accept any of the four proposals received from parking management companies vying for the job.

"I think it's a flawed process," said advisory committee member Charles V. Wait, who compared the paid parking plan to an addict's "heroin shot," that would only serve as a temporary fix for the city's budget problems.

"I think this would be a very foolish thing to do," he added.

When Finance Commissioner Ken Ivins crafted the city's 2010 budget, it included about $1.35 million in revenue anticipated from a paid parking program the city hoped to implement by May 1. The measure was suggested as an alternative to cutting city jobs, Ivins said.

Last week, the city received four valid responses to a request for proposals.

A majority of the advisory committee members - the committee is made up of local business leaders - found the prospect of on-street paid parking, as well as the four specific proposals that were submitted, flawed. They cited fuzzy math, inconsistent mapping of city streets suggesting where meters should be placed, and large discrepancies in estimates of how much annual revenue the city might receive as major reasons for their disapproval.

"It's like putting four pills on the table. Take your choice. Each one of them is poison," said committee member Joseph Dalton. "Paid parking is a disaster."

A visibly dejected Ivins thanked the committee members for their time and told the crowd of about two dozen who gathered in City Hall, "this was not the solution I was looking for coming out of here."

Despite the outcome, Ivins said he will take the proposals to the five-member City Council, which will ultimately decide whether to accept any of them. Approval must come in a majority vote, and it is not clear whether the idea has enough support from council members to move the project forward.

The City Council is expected to discuss the proposals prior to the next regularly scheduled meeting on March 2, and a public forum on the topic will take place at the Canfield Casino on March 8.

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