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Editorial: Sunny? Pack an umbrella

— The forecast certainly looks a lot different for the Town of Colonie these days.

Supervisor Paula Mahan is expected to present a 2013 tentative budget on Thursday, Sept. 27, that comes in under the state tax cap, raising the tax rate a relatively modest 12 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value. That announcement comes on the heels of several tumultuous budget cycles, and also shortly after an audit found the town is finally carrying a surplus. It seems almost unimaginable that in 2008, the town had a deficit of more than $20 million.

Town officials were mum on many details of the budget, so rest assured we will have all of the details once it is released on Thursday, including exactly what it might mean for town services.

Of course, let us recall that less than a decade ago, in 2004, the town’s tax rate stood at $2.01, a far cry from the $3.13 proposed in Mahan’s tentative budget. Residents have been asked to pay much more in a relatively short period of time. That figure makes last year’s modest tax decrease seem less of a victory, especially when coupled with 2009’s $5.7 million “one time tax,” one of a slew of drastic measures taken to put the town on track.

Then there was the operating agreement on the town landfill. Waste Connections is now paying the town for the privilege of managing the landfill, and while what that will mean for the people of Colonie over the 25-year span of the contract is unclear, it is largely the company’s $23 million up-front payment that allowed leaders to at last claim the town’s deficit wiped out.

Mahan’s tentative budget is said to increase spending by $760,000 over this year, which we would tentatively say is not unreasonable given the extra burdens being placed on local municipalities. But planners in Colonie, who will for the life of the Waste Connections contract be budgeting in a payment of several million dollars from the company annually, should remember the sun will set on this state of affairs and not balance the budget on it.

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Jon1 1 year, 11 months ago

According to the NYS Comptroller, Supervisor Mahan overcame a Year End 2008 deficit of $36.9 million not the just over $20 million. Now Colonie has published an $82.1 million 2013 Preliminary Expense Budget, which is confusing since 2011 actual was $101.1 million in expenses. What's the difference?

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