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Massena Town Board plans to refinance bonds to save dollar

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MASSENA - The Massena Town Council has voted to refinance outstanding bonds held by the town and Massena Memorial Hospital, an action that is projected to save the town and hospital almost $1 million in interest.

Refinancing now could significantly lower the interest rates on the bonds, saving the hospital a projected $780,000 and the town a projected $169,000 over time, Supervisor Joseph D. Gray said.

“It makes perfect sense. We can save a lot of money for the town and the hospital, and we hope to proceed as soon as possible,” Mr. Gray said. “We should move forward with this and save a pile of money.”

The refinancing could lower the interest rates on the bonds from 4.125 to 2 percent, according to Bookkeeper Nancy A. Fregoe. The $11 million bonds were taken out in 2003, $8.9 million of which went to finance MMH’s capital improvement project and the rest went to improvements to the Massena Town Hall and International Airport, Ms. Fregoe said.

Officials noted refinancing could require a lot of time, paperwork and some fees, but council members were largely in favor of the action.

Councilman John F. Macaulay called the refinancing a “no-brainer.” “It’s only like $18,000 (to) $19,000 in savings for the town portion a year, but that’s still significant when you look at what we had to do with this year’s budget,” he said.

Mr. Macaulay believes the money saved from refinancing could be used for construction projects that the town did not allocate funding for in its budget. These projects include repairs to the facade of the town hall, repairs to the parking lot, the construction of a new highway department barn and repairs at the Massena International Airport.

The Massena Town Council voted in August to pay C&S Engineers to complete design work for improvements to the town hall and highway barn. The design work for the town garage renovations will cost $88,525, and design work for front facade improvements to the Massena Town Hall will cost $15,800.

Council members are considering bonding for a multi-phase capital project to address infrastructure concerns. The front facade of the Massena Town Hall and the front steps are deteriorating and need repair. The town barn is also in bad shape and needs upgrades to remain functional, officials previously said.

In total, the council may bond for either $1.5 million or $2 million over a 15-year or 20-year period to address all those concerns, which may also include new security measures at town buildings.

The council is also considering repairs to the parking lot next to town hall. Mr. Gray has said in the past there is uncertainty as to whether the town owns that parking lot.

“If we were able to save on refinancing costs we could pay for some bonds” to fund those projects, Mr. Macaulay said. “They’re important projects. We need to do them.”

Tonw officials have said fees for the refinancing the bonds will be in the $80,000 range.

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