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Moody's move rekindles debt debate

In recent discussions about an improved bond rating, Colonie officials said preliminary estimates show the town is still close to $16 million in the hole.

Mahan said an earlier debt estimate of about $10.8 million was based on available data before the economy took a turn for the worse. She said an audit currently under way should provide a more accurate picture of the town's debt.

She pointed to recent news that Colonie has shed its negative outlook bond rating as a step in the right direction.

"We are pleased that we have succeeded in our primary goal of having the negative outlook we inherited removed from the town's bond rating," said Mahan.

She said Moody's Investor Services, an independent financial group, briefly gave the town an A1 rating with a negative outlook, but returned it to Baa1, without a negative outlook, due to the financial challenges the town is facing, such as decreased sales and mortgage tax revenue. An official report was never filed under the A1 rating.

Mahan said the town essentially refinanced its 2010 bonds " totaling $4.5 million " at a lower rate, which will save more than $150,000.

Republican Councilman Dan Dustin has been critical of the administration, including a "one-time" tax, which was levied in early 2009 to help reduce the deficit. Dustin said the revenue actually went toward 2009 operating costs instead. He pointed to early estimates indicating the town's deficit was $16 million as of 2009's end, an 18 percent reduction from 2007, not the 45 percent touted by Mahan's administration.

The report Dustin was referring to, the annual update document, is not an audited number, Mahan said.

Comptroller Craig Blair said the 2009 audit has just recently gotten under way by Bollam, Sheedy, Torani and Co. He said the 45 percent reduction was an estimate based on 2009 projections.

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