Colonie Town Supervisor Paula Mahan delivered her State of the Town address Tuesday morning before the Albany-Colonie Regional Chamber. She'll give the speech again before the Town Board on Thursday.
The Democrat is in her sixth term in the Albany County town of about 80,000. She spoke to an audience of about 160 at the Red Lion Hotel in Albany. Mahan reflected on a year of achievements and ongoing projects, including the groundbreaking of a new Ayco headquarters in August, an overall decrease in crime rates, and expansions in the town’s EMS department.
“Our neighborhoods are safe and welcoming, our schools are excellent, our business climate is thriving, and there’s a great spirit of community and citizen involvement at every level," says Mahan.
Last year, Mahan pointed to public safety as a main reason the town raised taxes by 5.48 percent for 2019. Mahan used the address to emphasize grant funding for the town’s long-term plans. She credited New York state Assemblyman Phil Steck for acquiring $2.7 million in funding for a new ambulance, library construction, a repaved bike path and new playground for the Crossings, and more. She says the town can’t progress on tax revenue alone.
“A 1 percent tax increase yields the general fund only about $225,000 in new revenue," Mahan says. "So you can see how important this additional funding is to the town. And when those funds are added together to other grants secured by the town, recent grant funding comes to more than $5 million.”
Mahan also wants to tear down the long-empty Tobin's First Prize meatpacking plant for redevelopment, and pursue new backup water connections between Colonie and Albany. She says infrastructure updates are expensive, but not as expensive as emergency repairs – and much of Colonie’s infrastructure dates back decades. By the end of 2019, Colonie’s water systems investments should total over $33 million.
“Even as we make these major investments, we continue to follow a very conservative financial approach," she assures. "Currently we are bonded to only about 11 percent of our constitutional debt limit, and we plan to keep that percentage low, between 10 and 12 percent each year.”
Going forward, Mahan stressed the importance of the Northway Exit 4 project, and green energy. She says the town is close to finalizing plans to invest in hydroelectric power for green energy credits.
“These credits will offset a significant portion of our energy usage and stabilize our energy costs over the next 20 years," she says. "In addition, we are working to become a certified ‘Clean Energy Community.’”
As such, the town is considering converting its street lights to LEDs, and finalizing unified permits for solar installations. Touting the town’s fifth consecutive win as “Best Suburban Community” in the Times Union Readers' Poll, Mahan says she will continue to look for ways to improve Colonie:
“It’s all of us working together that makes Colonie the successful community it is today. Together, I think that we’ve exceeded all of our expectations."