State officials will still move ahead with plans to potentially merge the Massachusetts Health and Educational Facilities Authority with the Massachusetts Development Finance Agency despite the fact that state Sen. Marian Walsh Tuesday announced that she would relinquish her new role at MassHEFA.

Gov. Deval Patrick would like to combine the two agencies in order to gain millions of dollars in savings, according to Kofi Jones, spokeswoman for the executive office of housing and economic development.

"We are still taking a look at the potential merger," Jones said yesterday. "We are in the early stages of this. [It's] an ongoing commitment to reform and taking a look at the potential for savings and efficiencies. We do believe a potential merger could save millions of dollars."

MassHEFA's board last month approved hiring Walsh for the position of assistant executive director, with the task of evaluating a potential merger. The senator declined the post after weeks of public outcry over the authority paying her $120,000 per year for a position that had been vacant for more than 12 years.

The agency declined to speak about joining with MassDevelopment, but released a statement regarding current efficiencies and operations among its staff of 15 employees.

"A true model of efficiency, last year HEFA's dedicated team worked to provide more than $4.4 billion in low-cost financing for important projects by nonprofit organizations across Massachusetts - becoming the largest issuer of tax-exempt bonds in the state and sixth largest in the nation," it said. "HEFA will continue to serve the nonprofit institutions that enrich the lives of everyone in the commonwealth."

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