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Shrewd move by control board to save Nassau $35 million

NIFA board meets in Uniondale. (Sept. 24, 2012)

NIFA board meets in Uniondale. (Sept. 24, 2012) Credit: Howard Schnapp

The political theater that too often surrounds the Nassau Interim Finance Authority when it seeks to impose some fiscal discipline on the county can obscure its core mission: to borrow money for the county at lower cost.

NIFA did that job very well last week, saving the county about $35 million in interest payments by refinancing $318 million of its bonds. This shrewd timing by chairman Ronald Stack, who had resisted calls by county officials to act earlier, got taxpayers the low rate of 1.67 percent.

NIFA's high credit rating is what allows such a preferential rate. The state law creating the oversight board gives the holders of NIFA bonds first dibs on the county's sales tax revenue. After the debt service is paid, the remaining proceeds from the sales tax are turned over to the county treasury.