Early outs key in budget

The Town of Colonie released its preliminary budget on Wednesday, Sept. 29, cutting more than $1 million from overall operating costs due to an influx of town employees taking advantage of a new early retirement incentives. The $93 million budget also includes pay raises for several town employees.

The town's deficit as of Dec. 31, 2009, stood at nearly $16 million, according to Town Deputy Comptroller Chris Kelsey, who said due to the current state of the economy, the town was not able to reduce that number. He added that if the sales tax comes in higher than expected, it will eat into the deficit.

In the year 2010, the town will have eliminated nearly 55 positions through a combination of attrition and early retirement as compared to 37 positions in the 2008-2009 fiscal year. Examples such a defunding the Youth Bureau Service Director's budget line, a total of $84,761.

Other positions, such as the director's position for the Colonie Landfill, formerly held by Joe Stockbridge who retired last month, were not filled, although Matt McGarry has filled in as acting director of the landfill.

Stockbridge's salary of $104,770 does not appear on the 2011 budget line.

Kelsey said that while this budget currently reflects the number of known town employees who have opted for early retirement, he said that there are still some employees who are considering retiring, a decision that must be made by Dec. 29.

"There are still a number of positions that may be effected by early retirement so we don't know those numbers officially," said Town Supervisor Paula Mahan's Spokeswoman Sara Wiest.

She added that reducing the town's overall workforce is a short-term way of trying to reduce expenditures while planning for the long term.

The new incentive plan, signed into law by the State Legislature in May this year, has two different categories town workers can fall under based on age and years of service.

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