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Suffolk comptroller seeks to refinance $107 million

Suffolk County Comptroller John, M. Kennedy on March

Suffolk County Comptroller John, M. Kennedy on March 26, 2015 in Hauppauge. Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan

Suffolk Comptroller John M. Kennedy Jr. said his office is seeking to refinance $107 million in existing debt to secure lower interest rates and save the county $700,000 next year. The refinancing is expected to close in November.

Kennedy said the total savings will be close to be about $5.3 million over the next six to seven years.

The debt was issued by the county in 2005, 2007 and 2008, at interest rates ranging from 4.35 to 5 percent. He expected t he new bond issuance to come in at rates of between 2.1 percent to 2.3 percent.

"We're taking advantage of treasury bill rates that are at historically low levels," Kennedy said.

The comptroller's office in March closed another refinancing of $84 million in old debt, which resulted in $600,000 in relief to the 2015 budget, and roughly $6 million in savings through 2026.

Kennedy said "at the end of the day, we're providing relief to the operating budget."

Suffolk County is facing a $176 million structural deficit in the 2016 operating budget, plus another shortfall as sales tax has come in less than expected.

Kennedy told county lawmakers at the Budget and Finance Committee on Tuesday that he would ask state lawmakers to fund auditors to collect sales tax next year.

Chairman Lou D'Amaro (D-North Babylon) said the county needs better data from the state so it can see where sales tax is lagging. "We put a lot of effort into economic development, to see sales tax decrease," he said.

State reports on sales tax collection are often for the 18 months prior, said Robert Lipp, director of the Legislature's nonpartisan Budget Review Office.

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