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Nassau wants bids for more rental income

Nassau County has asked for a second round of bids that could double the $30 million in one-shot revenue it had expected to get by selling the rental income from county leases on 18 properties it owns at Mitchel Field in Uniondale.

Instead of trading the income stream for the next 30 years, the county has now sought bids for up to 60 years. A state watchdog voted Jan. 26 to take over the county's finances, citing what it said was a $176-million deficit in this year's budget, and risky revenue assumptions such as the lump-sum lease payments.

When the county first broached the plan last August, NIFA chairman Ronald Stack said selling the rental income was no different than borrowing to balance the budget. "It's taking 30 years of revenue and getting it today," Stack said. NIFA referred calls Wednesday to Stack, who did not return calls for comment.

Democrats on the Nassau County Legislature were critical of the latest plan by Republican County Executive Edward Mangano, who declined to comment.

"The administration is selling at the bottom of the market. This is a bad idea because the county would realize greater income down the road if it would just manage the leases properly," Legis. Diane Yatauro of Glen Cove, the Democratic minority leader, said in a statement.

Nassau had been saying as late as last month that its first request for bids last year had resulted in three proposals, which it had forwarded to NIFA to show it was working to meet the watchdog's concerns about its budget.

After the NIFA takeover, the county scrapped the original proposals and issued a new request for bids on Feb. 10. Responses to the new bid request are due Feb. 23.

In the initial round, bidders could make offers for any number of leases, making the responses difficult to compare.

In the new round, bidders will be required to bid on all 18 leases, but they can submit bids for 30, 45 or 60 years of the leases, said the county's director of real estate, Carl Schroeter. As a result, Schroeter said, "We will get more money up-front." The longest of the leases run for 99 years.

An analysis last summer by the Office of Legislative Review said a 30-year sale could yield anywhere from $26.3 million to $65.5 million, depending on market conditions, the rate of inflation and other factors.

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