Saratoga Springs leaders worry about state VLT aid

Mark Mulholland
Updated: January 22, 2020 04:57 PM
Created: January 22, 2020 12:16 PM

SARATOGA SPRINGS - The video lottery terminals at the Saratoga Casino bring in hundreds of thousands of people from all over the area, and depending who you talk to that can be a blessing or a curse.

When the state first licensed VLTs, it promised aid each year to the cities who host them, to pay for things like infrastructure and police and fire coverage.


The state has come through each year, with the exception of 2009.

"We had to lay off police, we had to lay off fire. We had to take away raises, it was a nightmare," said Accounts Commissioner John Franck, who has been on the City Council for 15 years.

Now it appears to be happening again.

The governor's budget released Tuesday calls for doing away with aid to cities who host VLTs. Governor Cuomo saying the benefits of hosting a casino outweigh associated costs.

"That would not be true," said Mayor Meg Kelly. "I think that maybe he needs to come and talk to us and we can explain to him where this money goes."

Saratoga Springs expected to get about $2.4 million this year from the state.

Robin Dalton, the city's public safety commissioner, says much of the aid goes toward police and fire coverage and says the timing of the cuts is particularly bad.

"It makes me deeply concerned about the future of our department because we need more money, we need more funds, and we're struggling to just retain the staff that we have."

Finance Commissioner Michele Madigan calls the cuts "a significant loss of revenue" and vows to do everything in her power to make sure it doesn't happen."

Franck says with Joe Bruno no longer in the NYS Senate, it could be harder to convince the state this time, but he says they have to try.

"We're just getting back now to the level we had back when we lost this money in 2009 with the police. We just can't take another hit with the police."

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