BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Putting an additional $25 million down on its Bills stadium share over what County Executive Mark Poloncarz has proposed, Erie County could save millions in interests costs, an analysis shared by Comptroller Kevin Hardwick has revealed.
The comptroller was asked by Legislator Joe Lorigo to conduct the analysis, which was done by the county’s municipal advisor, Masterson Advisors LLC.
To fill the county’s $250 million share of the $1.4 billion stadium construction cost, Poloncarz has proposed using $75 million in surplus funds and bonding the remainder. But Lorigo supports putting down $100 million and bonding the rest.
“As interest rates continue to grow, we should be putting more money down,” Lorigo said.
The estimates provided by Hardwick’s office show that if the county were to purchase a $175 million bond in six months, it would end up spending between $250.7 million and $299.6 million paying it off, depending on the maturity.
“I should make clear that these figures are very imprecise,” Hardwick told lawmakers. “The markets are very volatile.”
If the county were to purchase a $150 million bond, it would spend between $215 million and $257 million paying it off over time. However in that scenario, that county would have to put an additional $25 million down.
Legislative Democrats don’t seem eager to do that.
“Money being fluid, we don’t know what next year brings. We don’t know if there is going to be a recession,” said Legislator Howard Johnson.
In an email, Peter Anderson, the county executive’s spokesperson, says at least one thing is working in the county’s favor.
“It does help that the county’s credit rating has been restored with the major ratings agencies, so that will mean less interest on the borrowing no matter what the term is, but right now theses issues remain to be resolved with the legislature,” Anderson said.
Erie County currently has a AA- credit rating.
Either way, the bond purchase is expected to be the largest in Erie County government history.
In addition to figuring out the funding sources, County lawmakers still need to approve the stadium deal. That is expected to happen before the September deadline.
Chris Horvatits is an award-winning reporter who joined the News 4 team in December 2017. See more of his work here.