July 25, 2013 | 5003 views
Long Beach’s $12 million bond measure hits a snag
Deadline to borrow millions for Sandy, deficit costs expires
A little more than a month after state lawmakers passed a bill to allow Long Beach to borrow $12 million to cover costs associated with Hurricane Sandy and an inherited deficit, the city cannot do so because a deadline in the legislation has passed.
On June 17, the Senate approved a bill to allow the city to issue up to $12 million in serial bonds, to be paid over 10 years, to finance “extraordinary” Sandy-related costs that are not eligible for reimbursement from state and federal government grants and to liquidate remaining deficits in its general, sewer, water and risk-management funds from 2012.
City officials lauded the legislation’s passage in the Senate, saying that it was good news for Long Beach taxpayers. But the city had only until June 30 to issue the bonds, which Assemblyman Harvey Weisenberg (D-Long Beach) said was hardly enough time to secure Governor Cuomo’s signature or float a bond offering.
“There’s a whole process with bond counsel and everything,” Weisenberg said, adding that the bill now requires an amendment. “They didn’t have enough time to do it, and the city couldn’t act because the bill hasn’t been signed [by Cuomo].”
In March, the city submitted a home rule request to the State Legislature to issue the bonds “on or before June 30, 2013,” according to the bill and a resolution passed by the City Council that month. “When the bill was filed in January or February, a June deadline probably didn’t sound that problematic,” said City Manager Jack Schnirman. “But the bill was ultimately not passed until the end of June. Ultimately, [Cuomo] didn’t sign it because it was flawed and irrelevant, because of the deadline.”
Weisenberg said that because the legislation passed the Senate just days before the 2013 legislative session ended, Long Beach’s deadline was unrealistic. “If [the Senate] would have passed it eight weeks before like I did, we would have had the bill done,” Weisenberg said, adding that the Assembly passed the bill in April. “But the bill passed so late that we couldn’t get it done. When you go out to bond, that takes time.”