Mahan reflects on 2011

— If she had just one word to describe the Town of Colonie’s 2011, Supervisor Paula Mahan knows exactly what it would be.

“Productive. 2011 definitely proved to be a very productive year for us,” said Mahan. “We’ve had to deal with the weak economy. … It hasn’t been easy but we were able to reduce and maintain despite the weak economy.”

Seeing treasure in trash

Perhaps the biggest source of Mahan’s pride is that 2011 marked the early accomplishment of a few goals she gave herself 10 years to complete.

“When I first started in 2008, we put together a 10-year financial plan. … One of our main goals was to eliminate the inherited deficit and we have been able to do that. We have eliminated the landfill deficit and eliminated the governmental fund deficit,” said Mahan.

The landfill deficit sat at about $11 million and the governmental fund deficit was approximately $10.5 million.

“That was a 10-year plan and we were able to accomplish that main goal within four years,” said Mahan.

The tricks, she said, were to cut out waste, reduce the size of town government through attrition and restructuring of departments and improve efficiency across the board. The big move that put the goal over the edge, though, was the controversial landfill agreement with Waste Connections that Mahan signed in August.

“We are the owners of the landfill and the landfill agreement allowed us to receive up front payment, which helped us to eliminate deficits,” said Mahan.

By signing operation of the landfill over to a private company but maintaining ownership, the town received a $23 million paycheck right off the bat. Over the 25-year lifespan of the agreement, the town is guaranteed $85 million in town coffers and has the potential to realize as much as $100 million down the line, according to the town.

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