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New York county eyes Fed loan program for cash-flow notes

Oct 6 (Reuters) - New York’s Suffolk County may tap a U.S. Federal Reserve loan program for state and local governments with cash-flow note deals this fall, a county official said on Tuesday.

County Comptroller John Kennedy said he has preliminary approval from the Fed’s Municipal Liquidity Facility (MLF) for about $100 million of one-year tax anticipation notes (TANs) the county plans to issue possibly later this month.

However, the county would first try to sell the notes in the U.S. municipal bond market and would turn to the MLF if it could provide a cheaper borrowing rate, Kennedy said.

That is what happened in August when New York’s cash-strapped Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) borrowed $450 million from the MLF after rejecting market bids for its three-year notes.

So far, the Fed has only reported loans by the MTA and Illinois, which borrowed $1.2 billion in June, since creating the $500 billion program in April as a way for states and local governments to access cash as their revenue fell due to the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

Kennedy said the county will also consider the MLF for a subsequent sale of approximately $410 million of TANs later this year. This week’s MLF sample rate for issuers rated BBB-plus like Suffolk County is 2.81% for debt due in one year.

The clock is ticking for the short-term loan program. With loan operations scheduled to end on Dec. 31, the New York Federal Reserve on Monday released revised guidance that said interested borrowers must submit paperwork 30 days prior to that deadline.

The MLF is one of around a dozen emergency credit facilities launched by the central bank this year to help ease the blow from the pandemic.

Reporting by Karen Pierog in Chicago Editing by Matthew Lewis