May 24, 2023 |

Photo – Saratoga Swimming Pool – Bigfoot99 file photo

In Saratoga, disagreements over next year’s budget for the town led a council member to voice her concerns publicly, and the mayor was not pleased.

On Monday evening, Saratoga Councilwoman Kathy Beck posted to her personal social media page a letter she had written to the editor of the local newspaper. In the letter, councilwoman Beck said she made a motion at the May 16th town council meeting to hire a new lifeguard for the pool and raise the salaries of the previously hired lifeguards. The motion died for lack of a second.

In her letter, Councilwoman Beck said the council’s decision not to support her motion puts the opening of the pool in jeopardy.

Councilwoman Beck’s letter comes after she lobbied unsuccessfully to have the town dedicate more of the general fund budget to the recreation department. She said the rec department was having trouble hiring and retaining lifeguards for the pool. Councilwoman Beck said a dollar an hour raise would entice more people to take the job.

The matter was discussed at the May 2nd town council meeting. Mayor Chuck Davis said governing body should wait until the new budget is set before addressing any pay increases.

During the May 16th council meeting, councilwoman Beck once again asked the town to approve an across-the-board raise for lifeguards. Councilman Jacob Fluty asked if the rec department had enough money remaining to pay for the raises. Councilwoman Beck said the rec department could afford the increased pay rate until the end of the fiscal year.

Mayor Davis said the budget priorities are funding four key departments: police, fire, streets, and sewer and water. Councilwoman Beck said hiring a lifeguard and providing raises was included in the previous budget. Councilman Jerry Fluty said the town was expecting more revenue but is grappling with $1.6 million less than projected. He said the town needs to adjust budgets to account for the shortfall.

Councilwoman Beck said the pool will remain closed if the town can’t afford to hire and pay the staff.

In her letter editorializing the situation, councilwoman Beck said she understood that the mayor’s four essential departments take priority. She said, “But, we must also responsibly manage our general budget, including the funds set aside for recreation.”

Councilwoman Beck’s letter said she would like the town to show appreciation for the lifeguards by paying them a competitive wage. Her letter also states that she would like to add more activities and increase hours at the pool. The councilwoman said, “28% of households in Saratoga have children under 18 years of age.”

In her letter, Beck encouraged residents to contact the town council and attend meetings and budget workshops.

Councilwoman Beck’s letter was brought to the attention of Mayor Davis. The mayor said he did not think the letter was “a professional way to handle matters dealing with the town council.” Mayor Davis said the issue should have been taken care of in a town council meeting, not on social media or the local newspaper.

Bigfoot99 reached out to Councilwoman Kathy Beck for comment. As of the reporting of this story, she has not responded.

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