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Suffolk County to refinance $136M in bonds

Suffolk County Comptroller John M. Kennedy Jr., joined

Suffolk County Comptroller John M. Kennedy Jr., joined by Brookhaven Town Supervisor Edward P. Romaine and Brookhaven Town Council members, speaks during a a news conference inside Brookhaven Town Hall on Tuesday, June 9, 2015. Photo Credit: Steve Pfost

Suffolk Comptolller John M. Kennedy Jr. said Tuesday the county will refinance $136 million in bonds to save $4 million before Federal Reserve interest rates climb too high.

Kennedy revealed plans for the refinancing at the county legislature’s finance committee to alert lawmakers that an emergency resolution will need to be enacted at Tuesday’s meeting to close out two capital projects, before the refinancing deal can move forward.

The comptroller said the refinancing involves parts of borrowings undertaken in 2008, 2009 and 2010 and covers 40 to 50 projects for which borrowing already has occurred done.

Kennedy said Suffolk needs to close two projects: The $18,000 unspent from a completed master plan for Gabreski Airport in Westhampton, and a canceled $60,000 study on how to replace a burn pit at the county fire academy in Yaphank. The county cannot refinance borrowed funds left unspent, Kennedy said.

Kennedy said the series of refinancings he has undertaken since taking office two years ago may be coming to a close, given the Federal Reserve’s plans to raise interest rates several more times in the coming months.

Kennedy already has refinanced $271.6 million in bonds, which he said will save Suffolk $22.3 million through 2028.

Legis. Thomas Barraga(R-West Islip) urged Kennedy to expedite upcoming county borrowings for the remainder of the year so the county can take advantage of low interest rates before they rise. “If we ratchet up the fall borrowing, maybe we could save, before the rates go up,” Barraga said.

Kennedy said he and his staff will review the idea. But comptroller aides said new borrowings cannot be undertaken until the public works department puts projects forward and the county legislature approves appropriations.

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