Gillen urges Hempsted Town Board to refinance $31M in bonds, board votes to table till next meeting

Rebecca Klar
Hempstead Town Supervisor Laura Gillen announced a plan for the town to refinance $31 million in bonds before interest rates increase. The Town Board will enact a resolution at Tuesday's meeting. (Photo courtesy of the Town of Hempstead)

Hempstead Town Supervisor Laura Gillen announced a plan last Wednesday for the town to refinance $31 million in bonds that she said will save taxpayers almost $3 million.

Gillen urged the Town Board to act quickly, before interest rates increase.

During Tuesday’s meeting, the board voted unanimously to table the matter and return to it at the next meeting, scheduled for Feb. 20 at 10:30 a.m.

Gillen said that certain members of the board asked for additional time to consider the items, and she said she is inclined to give them time to feel comfortable before voting.

In her statement last Wednesday, Gillen said that it is her responsibility to look out for the financial future of Hempstead residents.

“We have a unique opportunity to save taxpayers $2.8 million over the next 20 years, including an immediate estimated savings of $230,000 in the next fiscal year, by refinancing over $30 million in outstanding debt at rates that are much more competitive than what the town originally paid,” Gillen said. 

The plan involves money the town borrowed in 2007 and 2008 and covers capital spending projects where the borrowing has already occurred, according to a town news release.

Bond rates have increased since the town was eligible to refinance in March 2016, when rates were at historic lows, according to the release.

“The Town of Hempstead missed an opportunity to recoup an additional $2.5 million in interest savings by failing to act sooner,” Gillen said in a statement. “Luckily, we still have an opportunity to lock in a better deal over what we’re currently paying, despite the oversight.”

Gillen also noted that tax law changes under President Donald Trump’s administration have restricted Hempstead’s ability to refinance future debt.

Gillen, the first Democrat to hold the position in 100 years, previously said that making  the town financially sound is one of her priorities.

She sits on a GOP majority board, and her lone Democrat companion, Councilwoman Dorothy Goosby, often sided with former Republican Supervisor Anthony Santino.

Efforts to reach Goosby were unavailing.

Efforts to reach Deputy Supervisor Bruce Blakeman and Councilman Edward Ambrosino, whose district includes Floral Park, were also unavailing.

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