Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz wants the county – not the county’s control board – to borrow money for road repairs and other infrastructure projects, and he wants the county Comptroller’s Office on board with his proposal.
Poloncarz said Thursday that the county may be able to borrow at a lower rate than the Fiscal Stability Authority, and doing so could also expedite projects.
“Based on the information that we received from underwriters in the field, I feel confident in saying the county will be re-entering the bond market this year,” Poloncarz said at a news conference.
Poloncarz said the county could save a few hundred thousand dollars by borrowing on its own and avoiding some of the duplicative costs the county incurs when borrowing through the control board.
Comptroller Stefan I. Mychajliw, however, said borrowing through the control board remains the best option.
“While we appreciate input from any source, our main mission is to not waste taxpayer dollars the way the county executive did in 2012 by not borrowing through the control board,” Mychajliw said.
He said Poloncarz wasted almost $1 million in tax dollars by declining to take advantage of the control board’s lower interest rate.
With the county nearly a decade out from the depths of the red/green fiscal crisis, Poloncarz said it is critical that the county begin repairing it’s damaged credit record by borrowing on its own if it finds a good deal.
The county executive said he asked the Comptroller’s Office to issue requests for proposals for potential borrowers, but his request was ignored.
The City of Buffalo, he said, has borrowed on its own for about five years after formerly relying on a control board. Since then, the city has seen its bond rating increase. Poloncarz said he wants to increase the county’s borrowing capacity. As the county demonstrates its capacity to borrow, its bond rating would improve, he said.
“It makes sense to talk to some underwriters and find a way to do a transaction on behalf of the county, especially if we are going to be — in the next couple of years — on the hook for [helping to finance] major construction associated with the new stadium,” Poloncarz said.