COLONIE — Republican candidates are “slamming” the administration of Supervisor Paula Mahan for what they claim is fiscal mismanagement.
That assessment came in response to a report by the state Comptroller’s Office entitled “Fiscal Stress Scores Report,” which has been issued annually since 2013 to gauge a municipality’s past, present and future fiscal condition.
In 2013, 2014, and 2015 Colonie was listed as facing “moderate” fiscal stress. In 2016, though, it ticked up one notch to a designation of “susceptible.” If it manages to tick up another notch, it will join the great majority, 97 percent, of municipalities of all levels and types and not have any fiscal stress designation, according to the report.
“If you have recently driven through Colonie you probably noticed a few things: one, traffic is horrible and two, the town is growing,” said the Republican candidate for supervisor, Frank Mauriello in a statement. “How is it, that with all this development Colonie still finds itself in a vulnerable financial position?”
Mahan did not take the criticism laying down. She said when she came into office 10 years ago, the town was on the brink of bankruptcy and one person to blame for that is her opponent.
“This is the same Frank who was on the Town Board from 1999 to
2007, the same period in which the board’s unchecked spending literally brought the Town of Colonie to the brink of bankruptcy,” she said. “The one thing the Fiscal Stress report confirms is we have made great progress on restoring financial stability — all while building reserves and producing budgets with bipartisan support that have consistently held the line on taxes and fallen well below the New York state tax cap.”
While on the board, Mauriello was deputy to then Supervisor Mary Brizzell.
The Republicans – Mauriello and two board candidates, Christine Badger Mele and Mark Mitchell – say another reason for alarm is the number of municipalities listed in stress has declined considerably. In 2013, of the total 1,595 municipalities statewide, 50 had a fiscal stress designation. That number spiked to 69 a year later but fell to 38 in 2016.
“It is surprising to learn that the Town of Colonie is susceptible to fiscal stress. Even more surprising is the fact that Colonie is the only municipality in the Capital Region that has experienced fiscal stress in each of the last four years,” Mitchell said. “The town clearly needs a new management team, one with experience in fiscal matters and that understands how to exercise fiscal caution through sensible spending decisions and proper long-term planning.”
Mahan said when she took office, finances were tops on the to do list.
“The town was financially devastated when we came in 2008,” she said. “We worked with the state Comptroller to avoid a control board, we worked with auditors, forensic auditors, and we worked with Moody’s in New York City.”
A control board basically means the state takes the municipality’s checkbook and local officials can’t purchase anything over a certain amount, or do anything else that has any sort of fiscal impact, without permission from the state Comptroller’s Office.
“We were one quarter of a step from the control board. We knew coming back to solvency was going to be a long process but we are making progress. The Fiscal Stress Report shows that,” Mahan said. “The Republicans brought this town to its fiscal knees and my opponent was a big part of that. It was a textbook example of how not to run a government.”