Felix G. Rohatyn, the Wall Street financier who helped steer New York City through the financial crisis of the 1970s, said Friday he is resigning as chairman of the Municipal Assistance Corp.

Speaking at the annual meeting of the MAC board of directors, Rohatyn said that with several new members coming to the board, the time is right to resign. Rohatyn served as MAC chairman for 18 years. He said New York State Gov. Mario M. Cuomo will probably choose his successor before the end of the month.

"This ... is an ideal opportunity to install a new chairman who can look forward to several years of service with the new board," Rohatyn said in his letter of resignation to Cuomo.

The corporation, also known as MAC, was created by the state legislature during the fiscal crisis of the late 1970s to sell bonds on behalf of New York City. The city at the time was barred from the municipal bond market because of its sinking credit.

In recent years, as the city's fiscal condition improved, MAC has functioned largely as a monitor of city budget affairs. But even as MAC's power began to wane, Rohatyn continued to relish his role as a critic of city budgets and financial decisions.

Rohatyn, 65, also said in his letter to Cuomo that the current mayoral contest forced him to speed up his resignation. "I would not wish an announcement of my resignation, if it were to take place after the election, to be misinterpreted as lack of enthusiasm for whoever is elected. "

During the meeting, MAC released its review of the city's financial plan for fiscal years 1994 through 1997. The report portrayed city finances as a mixed bag.

"On one hand, the city has made important strides in containing costs, improving productivity, and renewing its earlier commitment to structural reform, " the report says. "On the other hand, the city still faces daunting long-term fiscal problems. "

Friday, Rohatyn once again said he endorsed New York City Mayor David Dinkins in his re-election bid against Republican-Liberal challenger Rudolph W. Giuliani.

Rohatyn stopped short of endorsing city comptroller Elizabeth Holtzman, who is being challenged in the Democratic primary by state Assemblyman Alan Hevesi and former Deputy Mayor Herman Badillo. But during the meeting he said that Holtzman has been "a good comptroller, a comptroller we enjoyed working with."

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