Letter From Councilman Mark Mayoka
On Friday night, May 5th I received the Town Board resolution package, in excess of 200 pages with over 30 resolutions, one resolution was to refinance/re-bond Huntington Town bonds in the amount of 24 million dollars. This resolution alone was in excess of 100 pages and included intricate calculations without any assumptions. As a councilman and a CPA I have a responsibility to thoroughly review and analyze the proposed refunding plan. This was impossible to do in the limited time frame so I abstained from the vote along with Councilman Cook and the resolution failed.
I was immediately accused of grandstanding by the Democratic majority. If being an advocate for the residents of Huntington is considered grandstanding then I will accept that definition. During the board meeting I noted my concerns and clearly stated that there appeared to be irregularities in the proposed refunding plan. It appeared that professional fees were too high and that the proposed 2005 refunding segment of 7 million dollars would only save the town $17,000 yet cost $65,000 in professional fees. Since I did not receive an acceptable explanation for these discrepancies and I had numerous other unanswered questions I could not vote in favor of the resolution. I decided to abstain from the vote, together with Councilman Eugene Cook.
The following day I expanded my review process. I met with the Interim Comptroller to discuss the financial details of the proposed re-bonding plan.
I also requested a meeting with the NYMAC municipal bond consultants and generated a list of questions that I needed to be answered. I believed that we were off to a great start in getting the answers that I needed in order to cast an informed vote on the re-bonding resolution. Unfortunately, I was mistaken.
My questions were only partially answered 1 week later and my scheduled meeting with NYMAC did not take place until May 21st. I was obstructed from getting the information that I needed to make an informed decision. Nonetheless, I continued to persevere in my quest to save the town additional monies.
The end result is that the proposed refunding plan was changed. Instead of saving $700,000 we will now be saving over one million dollars. The cost of issuance, underwriters discount, market conditions as well as bonding options were all re-evaluated. In addition, we uncovered a problem with the 2005 proposed refunding proposal. It is now unlikely that it will go forward since it would only yield marginal savings and would be viewed negatively by the ratings agencies. This change in strategy was agreed to in a meeting with NYMAC and Supervisor Petrone and confirmed in an e-mail from NYMAC dated May 22nd.
Changing a plan and saving additional money is nothing to be embarrassed about.
Councilman Mark Mayoka