Colonie Town Supervisor Paula Mahan has delivered her final state of the town address.
Earlier this month Mahan announced that she would not seek an eighth two-year term at the end of the year. The Democrat has held the post in the Albany County town of about 80,000 since 2008. In a virtual speech to the Capital Region Chamber, Mahan discussed the fiscal challenges wrought by 2020.
"While everyone will remember 2020 for the coronavirus pandemic, the town first had to manage a ransomware attack on our computer system in January of 2020. International players hacked into our network and demanded $400,000 before they would allow us the use of our network. While this attempt was not successful in accessing any vital information, it necessitated a complete restoration of all our servers and desktops. Our Management Information Department did an excellent job in technology security, and no data was lost and no ransom was paid. Even with this setback, they were still able to accomplish some major goals for 2020."
Mahan noted that when town officials began COVID-19 conversations last March, a revenue shortfall of about $7 million dollars was expected. She says a host of tough financial decisions had to be made.
“We had to take steps to fill that gap by furloughing 50 mostly Part Time employees, delaying replacement of vacated positions, mandating reductions of overtime, and eliminating all non-essential spending. Fortunately, sales tax has generated better than expected revenue and we are expecting to be short revenue in the $3 to $4 million range.”
Mahan says town department heads played a critical role during the pandemic by continuing essential business remotely, and as a result, all departments are now set up for remote access for essential functions for any possible future shutdowns.
"I am very proud of how all the department heads responded to the governor’s executive orders to reduce the number of staff in buildings. Town departments immediately developed ways to handle their business operations remotely or to move to contactless service. In preparation for reopening or a resumption of in-person service, the town implemented a variety of safety measures to protect the public such as acrylic shields, increased or enhanced cleaning of surfaces, appropriate social distancing and the wearing of masks."
She says the town continues to monitor and comply with the most recent guidelines and requirements of the CDC and the New York State Department of Health. Mahan also pointed out that, in response to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Executive Order requiring each local government to adopt a policing reform plan, the town created the Colonie Comprehensive Police Practices Review Committee. She adds the town is in the process of completing the plan, which will be presented to the public. Reports are due to the state by April.