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Nassau to Ask for Control Board, State’s Help in Refinancing Debt

Deputy county executive says refinance plan would lower interest rate, stretch out payments.

After a winter of legal , Nassau County is apparently doing an about-face and partnering with the state fiscal control board to refinance some of its debt.

“All that frankly is behind us,” deputy county executive for finance Tim Sullivan said Wednesday afternoon at the . “Right now we see NIFA as a partner in working with the county to achieve solutions.”

As part of a presentation on the county’s multi-year plan for 2011-14, Sullivan said that Nassau will be asking the  (NIFA) to petition the state legislature to restructure the county’s debt, a power not currently available to the six-member board.

Between 2000-10 over $1 billion in bonds were borrowed by NIFA and the county to pay for property tax settlements and an additional $169 million for other judgments and settlements. The county is also asking for an additional $70 million for tax settlements.

Payments on the debt peak in 2012-13 at about $355 million before dropping off through 2040.

Sullivan said that the restructuring of the debt would be “a combination” of refinancing to lower interest rate and spreading out payments over more years.

“We look forward to partnering with NIFA to achieve that change in their statute,” he said.

Sullivan also listed a myriad of other avenues the county could take to reap savings, including a series of  for , requesting an extension of a  if labor savings are not realized, streamlining departments and. “There are significant avenues that the county can go forward on with NIFA to achieve real budgetary savings,” he said.

NIFA is also currently reviewing county operations, but Sullivan did not announce any specifics. A report is expected around Labor Day.

As part of Nassau’s ongoing assessment reforms, Sullivan said that a new measure similar to one in New Jersey would establish between a five and 10 percent margin of error on property tax assessments, which the county believes would eliminate 90 percent of the tax assessment challenges. Any change would have to be approved by the state legislature.

“We call on NIFA to partner with us for supporting this type of legislation,” he said. “We’re going to have to talk solutions here.”

NIFA board members are set to meet Thursday afternoon.

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