Updated 08/12/2009 07:22 PM
Mahan gives update on town budget deficit, faces critics
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COLONIE, N.Y. -- "We're really on target at this point," said Colonie Town Supervisor Paula Mahan.
Mahan says her administration's efforts have reduced the town's deficit by 45 percent in 19 months. She credits the generation of revenue and cutting of waste. But, perhaps most controversial, she says $5.5 million of the deficit drop is because of a onetime tax costing the average Colonie homeowner $150 earlier this year.
"It worked tremendously," said Mahan. "That is a major reason why the town stayed afloat."
Mahan says that onetime tax and the sale of assets like Heritage Park, which generated $2.7 million, resulted in the deficit drop: $19.7 million in 2007 to $10.8 million this year.
But Republican Mike Hoblock, who is gunning for Mahan's job, sees a different story.
"2009 may be in worse shape than 2008," said Hoblock. "The question is whether or not the debt in 2007 or in the end of 2007 was in fact $19 million. The operational debt at the time was real and that was probably in the area of $8 million. So if the debt today is $10 million, I think you're talking about $2 million additional debt. So that's what I mean by no structural change. You can't keep relying on these one shots and this typical overestimating revenues. It's got to be real and you've got to face facts and unfortunately that's not been done."
Moving forward, Mahan says her 10 year plan will involve the sale of more assets, though she would not specify which ones. Mahan also plans to rely on renegotiated contracts. Also, she'll rely on attrition, which she says has already generated $800,000.
"This is a huge step forward for our town and I'm very pleased with our achievements to date," Mahan said. "But we must continue our efforts and commitments to reach our goal of eliminating that deficit completely."
Another challenge will be the town's bond rating. Mahan says Moody's Investor Services tells her Colonie is doing everything right, but the current economy prevents Moody's from improving that rating. So, a lot of challenges still exist in Colonie. One thing remains certain: how soon they will overcome those challenges depends on who you ask.