Mayor to state: put casino here

— Saratoga Springs Mayor Scott Johnson thinks uncertainty at the state level presents the biggest challenge to the Spa City for the coming year, but also feels 2012 was a success.

Johnson delivered his annual State of the City address on Thursday, Jan. 17, at the Saratoga Springs City Center. He said a shaky economy nationwide is manifesting itself in a stalled expansion of casino gambling and thoroughbred racing, no relief from unfunded state mandates and the continued impact of the property tax on essential services. Still, the Spa City is in a relatively good position, he said.

“As a destination and resort community with a strong and expanding tax base, we are more resistant but not immune from the impacts of the global recession,” he said. “As a city, we remain heading in the right direction to control what we can control locally, while planning for the future.”

Johnson said sales tax revenue was up 5.4 percent in 2012. He also said trends indicate the city’s unrestricted, unreserved fund balance may increase over the last year to supplement the “rainy day” fund.

Convention and Tourism Bureau statistics showed a 3 percent increase in hotel occupancy, and total number of bookings increased by 34 percent in 2012, which translates into an additional $7 million spent in the city last year. At the track, overall attendance for 2012 was up 3 percent and more than $200 million was generated. The City Center had a 10 percent increase in bookings of and an all-time record of 256 days booked for the year.

Johnson touted city government highlights from 2012 like the opening of Waterfront Park at Saratoga Lake, the formation of Gateway Action Program of Saratoga to study conditions affecting the development on South Broadway, application for a Complete Streets grant, and the development of safe pedestrian and bicycle trails.

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