Money meetings detail Colonie's deficit

In an effort to bring information to the public, Colonie Supervisor Paula Mahan and her staff have began a series of financial informational meetings in which they travel to various locations in town to tell residents how the town has acquired a deficit and what can be done.

Last night I think people went there with high hopes of actually learning more about the financial situation, said Albany County Legislator Carl Zeilman, R-Colonie, the day after the first financial information session on Tuesday, July 14. But, Zeilman said, he and a number of other individuals who attended the meetings were dissatisfied with the format.

During the meeting, Mahan stood before the crowd at the Maplewood Fire Department and gave a presentation about the deficit, which she said totals $18 million.

After the supervisor's presentation, attendees were able to write questions on 3-by-5-inch note Town Operations Peter Gannon, who read them aloud for the supervisor to answer.

While the supervisor said this system was to keep the meeting organized, some were displeased with the format.

"I think many people were disappointed because it was through her spokesperson," said Zeilman. "For many people there's more than one question to your question and you want to be able to ask follow-ups."

A slideshow portion of Mahan's presentation discussed what the town has to offer, including its proximity to the state Capitol, the Albany International Airport, and services including parks, Latham Waters and a golf course.

Then came the bad news. Mahan pointed to a lack of effective board oversight from the previous administration as the cause of the deficit. She blamed the previous board for a "lack of a comprehensive plan to address the deteriorating financial conditions."

State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli and Town Comptroller Craig Blair have estimated the deficit at $14 million through December 2006, and another auditing agency projected that through June 2007, the deficit had climbed to $18.1 million.

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