Metroplex seeking $25M bond increase

The Schenectady County Legislature overwhelmingly approved legislation Tuesday, April 8, that would extend the life of Metroplex Development Authority for another five years and increase its bonding authority by $25 million.

If approved by the State Legislature, Metroplex's bond cap will increase from $50 million to $75 million, and it's operations will be extended through 2033, instead of 2028.

Metroplex Chairman Ray Gillen said that a $25 million increase was the appropriate amount to ensure that the county could continue its economic development plan.

Gillen said that extending Metroplex's sunset date would allow for the agency to seek 20- or 30-year bonds.

Gillen said these bonds currently have better rates than shorter longevity bonds. He also said that a combination of Metroplex's current debt and a leverage of county tax dollars should help the agency repay its bonds.

Earlier this month, Gillen said Metroplex had issued approximately $45 million of its $50 million bond cap since the agency's inception in 1999. Tuesday's resolution marked the first time Metroplex has asked for an extension of credit.

We have to make sure we do this at the right amount, said Gary Hughes, D-Schenectady, who was in favor of the $25 million bump. He said a lesser amount would be imprudent. "We don't want to be back here next year asking the state for another increase."

The Legislature voted 9-to-2 in favor of the resolution. Joe Suhrada, R-Rotterdam, and Angelo Santabarbara, R-Rotterdam, voted against the measure citing a pending audit of Metroplex by the state comptroller's office.

Suhrada also said he would rather see a smaller bond increase. An amendment proposed by Suhrada to change the bond cap from $75 million to $60 million was swiftly defeated by the Democratic majority.

James Burhmaster, R-Scotia, voted with the majority. Vincent DiCerbo, D-Schenectady, abstained because he is an employee in the state comptroller's office. Legislators Philip Fields, D-Schenectady, Judith D'Agostino, D-Rotterdam and Robert Farley, R-Scotia were absent.

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