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Dems trim fat; New officials scrutinize town deficit

Freshmen Colonie Democrats are still waiting for word of just how bad the town's fiscal situation is. But that isn't stopping them from trimming some of the fat.

During the town's first meeting of 2008, Thursday, Jan. 3, and first meeting under a Democratic majority, the 4-to-3 majority pushed through several appointments seeking to save the town money.

So far, the changes will result in nearly $50,000 in savings in the course of two years through the consolidation and elimination of several town posts and department responsibilities.

But the Democrats say they aren't done yet. More savings are on the way as Supervisor Paula Mahan and Comptroller Craig Blair continue to chip away at the $8.5 million town deficit, which they fear may end up being higher.

We are going to be trimming the fat. It's going to be a process for sure. At first glance, the financial outlook is not good. My main concern is that the residents may have been given a false sense of security, said Mahan.

From Mahan's transitional team, which pored over town records in little more than five weeks before Democrats took over, to an overhauled staff, everyone is on board, she said. The consensus is that it is going to be a process that, in the long view, ultimately gets the town back on track to stability and financial security, she said.

Still, an ominous cloud hangs overhead, as town officials scrutinize records from the past several years to find how the town has found itself so deeply in debt and how it can begin to whittle away at the last administration's $83 million budget to free up funds.

"First, administration supervisors are kind of stuck with that first budget," said Robert Tengeler, who served as chairman of Mahan's extensive transition team. "The issue is, we basically had five weeks to do an overview of an $80 million budget. So obviously this was a first blush."

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