Christopher Kelsey has been the Town of Colonie acting comptroller since January 2016. Prior to that he was the accounting supervisor, a position he accepted in 2009. The Siena College and Shaker High School graduate is responsible for all town fiscal matters including formulating an annual budget, maintaining the town’s financial transactions, preparing financial reports for the Office of the State Comptroller and other entities, and is responsible for cash management. These responsibilities also extend to the Town Industrial Development Agency and Local Development Corporation. He, his wife Erica, and children Timothy and Hanna live in Loudonville.
Q: The town is in pretty good financial shape right now. What is the major contributing factor to Colonie’s fiscal position?
A: The major contributing factor to Colonie’s current financial position is this administration, and management team’s, dedication and commitment to a conservative approach to budgeting and fiscal monitoring. Another key component, is the finance team’s ability to think outside of the box in times of financial pressures.
Q: What is the most rewarding part of your job and why? The least rewarding, and why?
A: The most rewarding part of my job is working closely with town departments to achieve their operating goals within our financial restraints. I started my career in a client service driven industry and I view the various town departments to be my current client base. The ability to assist the departments to provide the best service possible makes me feel like I’m contributing something to our tax payers. The least rewarding part of my job is the political atmosphere that exists at all levels of government because political and financial goals are not always working in the same direction.
Q: Sans COVID, what was the most significant factor to consider when formulating the town’s nearly $100 million 2021 budget and why?
A: The most significant factor in formulating the 2021 budget, other than COVID, was to develop a cost effective budget, within our revenue constraints, that provided for the needs of the departments without sacrificing services to the tax payers.
Q: You’re in charge of the town’s checkbook. Is it hard telling department heads and employees they can’t have any more money?
A: Is it hard telling departments and employees that they cannot have any more money? Let’s just say my kids bought me a “No” button (similar to the Staples “Easy” button) several years ago. For some department heads I answer the phone saying “Hello, and No.” In all honestly, I don’t like saying no, so I typically have a conversation in these cases to identify if this a need or a want. If it is a need I try to reach a compromise where we reach the department’s goals within the town’s financial constraints. My favorite saying is “we may have to take several baby steps but we get you where you want to be.”
Q: As a father, how do you explain COVID to a child?
A: As a father, I explained COVID very candidly. I explained this was a serious illness that was easily shared between people, and some people have passed away because of it. As we were all relatively healthy that we probably would be okay if we contracted it, but that we needed to take precautions not to spread it to others, like their grandparents. So they should wash their hands, wear their masks when necessary and social distance, but that we all still needed to live our lives. We all just keep looking forward to this all being over and we are able to travel to Walt Disney World again, without restrictions.
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