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Oyster Bay pols at odds over amount of town’s debt reduction

Democratic candidate for Oyster Bay Town Board Eva

Democratic candidate for Oyster Bay Town Board Eva Pearson, left, Democratic candidate for Oyster Bay Town Supervisor Marc Herman and Democratic candidate for Oyster Bay Town Board Robert Freier at a news conference in Bethpage on Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2017. Credit: Newsday / Ted Phillips

Oyster Bay Democrats said Wednesday that Town Supervisor Joseph Saladino has misled the public about how much debt the town has paid down this year.

Speaking at a news conference in Bethpage, Marc Herman, the Democratic candidate for supervisor, said his Republican opponent wasn’t including new debt incurred this year as the town paid off old debt.

“You’ll see the same lie being fabricated over and over again, which is the town has reduced the debt by $70 million,” Herman said. “In actuality, the decrease is $5 million. Now that is intentionally misleading, if not an out-and-out lie, and should be enough to trigger more SEC investigations.”

In July, Saladino said at the town board meeting that the town’s debt would be reduced by $75 million to $80 million by the end of the year. His campaign website states that the debt has already been reduced by $70 million.

Oyster Bay Town spokesman Brian Nevin said Herman, a Woodbury dentist, should “stick to pulling teeth.”

“He surely doesn’t understand government finances and simply lied in an attempt to boost his floundering campaign,” Nevin said.

The war of words is really about what is counted as debt and debt repayment. Financial records show that the town was scheduled to repay $68.5 million in long-term bond debt in 2017. Considering the town’s bonds and Bond Anticipation Notes — which is what Moody’s Investors Service listed as the town’s “net direct debt” when it restored the town’s credit rating in January — town records show debt falling from $808.6 million to $765.4 million since the beginning of the year, a $43.2 million reduction. By the end of the year, that is expected to fall to $756.4 million.

The town reported in June that it expects to borrow an additional $25 million to $50 million next year for new projects.

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