The city has approved this year's 2017 capital budget. And among one of the most costly items on the $9 million to-do list is renovations to the Commissioner of Finance's City Hall office.
Michele Madigan's office improvements, including a private bathroom and kitchenette/storage area for her 12 office employees as well as restoration of ornate ceiling tiles and arched window, will cost an estimated $749,104. It is the third most costly project on the list of 25 following the Saratoga Greenbelt trail connector at $2.3 million and the renovation of the police department's updates to the emergency services dispatch, coming in at an estimated $1.1 million.
Also listed in the capital budget are improvements to the Canfield Casino. For the entire structure, repairs total $600,000.
The finance office renovations, which will include the IT department and restores much of the 1871 building's original decorative details, do not include any other part of City Hall.
"City Hall must be taken care of," Madigan, a Democrat, said Friday. "These restorations must be done."
She said the drop ceilings are dirty and one portion of the floor is weak from flooding. She also said her office is the only one without a bathroom.
Also included is asbestos removal, improved air quality in the basement and a secure window where residents can pay their taxes. A separate private conference room also will be built so city employees can come in and talk to staff about health insurance, retirement and other concerns. The entire office will be stocked with new furniture, which Madigan said her employees have never had.
When asked about costs of the renovations, Deputy Commissioner Lynn Bachner said that was the estimate from architects Mesick, Cohen, Wilson and Baker in Albany.
"I think we are being very resourceful," Bachner said. "If it comes in for less, then we can use the money for another project in the budget."
Mayor Joanne Yepsen, a Democrat, said the capital budget, which will be folded into the 2017 operational budget, is determined by a committee of five. She chairs the committee with representatives from the four city departments: accounts, finance, public safety and public works. The representatives bring forward requests from each department, which the committee debates and prioritizes.
"This was the only request from finance," Yepsen said. "For me, as chair of the capital budget committee, I feel that safety and quality of life issues are the top priority."
Like the mayor, Joe DiGeso, a prominent Republican who lives in Saratoga Springs, also said the money should be spent for the public benefit.
"I am not familiar with the details, but no public official should be renovating their office when schools and a number of other places in the city need renovations. There are a number of other places that would benefit our citizens, neighbors and friends. We could use more benches in Congress Park, we have a homeless problem.
"All public officials must ask if renovating offices is the best use of public money."