Suffolk County, N.Y., Executive Proposes $1.36 Billion Operating Budget for 1992

Suffolk County, N.Y., would forgo a property tax increase in 1992 but engineer two bond sales totaling $127 million under a $1.36 billion operating budget proposed by County Executive Patrick G. Halpin on Friday.

The proposed budget, scheduled to begin Jan. 1, would be financed in part through a recently approved half-cent rise in the county sales tax by the state Legislature and proposed increases in user fees for a myriad of county services.

A $5 motor vehicle registration surcharge, for example, would be earmarked for a dedicated roads fund to maintain county roads. The budget also calls for the county to eliminate midweek discounts at parks and beaches.

To provide the county with about $42 million in budget relief, the New York State Dormitory Authority is planning to refinance bonds early next month and then sell a new-money bond issue about a month after that.

The innovative financings would be structured to generate additional bond proceeds over the par amounts sold by the authority through offering high coupon bonds - set at an interest rate a little above 9% - at a premium, or at a higher cost above par to investors, said Thomas A. Devane, deputy executive director of planning and financial analysis for the dormitory authority.

Mr. Devane said the refinancing would be "present value neutral - just about break-even" and is slated for sale in early October through a negotiated syndicate headed by Paine-Webber Inc.

The final dollar amount of the offerings is still subject to change based on market conditions. But, as of yesterday, roughly $102 million of premium bonds are expected to be sold to generate a total of $127.5 million in bond proceeds, he said. the continuing fallout from the recession, Mr. Halpin pledged not to increase property taxes. In a statement, he said. "In spite of a national recession, skyrocketing mandates, and massive cuts in state aid, I am determined to hold the line on property taxes and submit a balanced budget that meets the needs of our residents." A property tax freeze also was included in last year's budget.

Mr. Halpin, a Democrat up for re-election to a second four-year term in Novermber, also called for cutting discretionary spending by $9 million and increasing public safety spending by $8.7 million. The proposed budget would use surplus interest money from the Water Quality Protection Program to stabilize property taxes. Also under the water program, the country would sell $50 million of bonds to finance land acquisition.

To cover the cost of a $60 million increase in state and federal mandates, the proposed budget sets a freeze on the salaries of all county employees, but does not suggest the firing of any county workers.

The proposed budget will now go to the 18-member County Legislature, which is controlled by Republicans. The Legislature is authorized to make changes in the executive's proposed budget, but they must approve a budget by Nov. 12. The county executive, in turn, will then have 15 days to approve or veto the budget passed by the Legislature, which then will have 15 days in which to override the veto.

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