Financial Crisis and Meadows Still in Denial // Eliot Singer

I hate to talk about this now, given the immediate flood crisis. I hope most of you are managing. This flood is worse than anything in my 35 years in residence in Lansing/East Lansing, and our backed-up sewer problems were not flood related.

I feel compelled to say something after reading the latest on financial crisis in Eli. Avondale Square is not the worst by any means. The building of the new DPW building without a debt millage last time Meadows was mayor is … Read more →

Public Purpose Must Be Commensurate with Cost // Eliot Singer

I am trying to push state legislators on development authority reforms, using East Lansing as the poster-child for how to do public-private development wrong.

One of the key reforms needs to be requiring all brownfield projects or DDA expenditures provide a detailed breakdown, including financials, of what the public purposes are in relation to tax diversion and other costs, and also requiring a strong procedure for objective assessment. Currently, all government has to do is wave a magic wand and say, there’s a public … Read more →

DRW Illegal Trade Case Still Undecided // Eliot Singer

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-12-21/for-legendary-chicago-trader-slow-justice-in-manipulation-case

I hadn’t check for many months, but someone asked me a few days ago, so I finally got around to it.

DRW is tied to Core Campus/Convexity.

After City Center II/Park District and the brownfield project with the developer with a felony fraud conviction, East Lansing government and MEDC needed an absolute no crooks and deadbeats for tax incentives rule to restore even a modicum of credibility and ethical standards.

They didn’t.

DRW should have been excluded from tax incentives for the … Read more →

Secret Fees for Lotto 1 Bond Are Outrageous // Eliot Singer

When the $25,265,000 for the Lotto 1 bond was announced, with only $24,389,518 going to pay for the $33,000 per space parking structure and other infrastructure, it didn’t make a lot of sense. Typically, the city pays the bond broker 1%, and this is to do the paperwork/bookkeeping and to sell the bonds on the open market. In this case, it was a private placement deal, so the origination (broker) fee should have been less, since there was no need to sell on the … Read more →

Killing the DDA // Eliot Singer

I’m sure the usual suspects do not want to place killing their beloved, functionally obsolete, DDA and BRA at the top of the budget cut list. I don’t know exactly how much can be saved through cuts to planning staff and city attorney, probably on the order of 4 positions and 25% city attorney time (based on recent billing records). Preventing further expenditures on discretionary projects and programs, for example, piggybacking road reconfiguration on the Project Formerly Known as City Center Two, will save … Read more →

City Financial Crisis: One Last Time, With Feeling // Eliot Singer

I feel a moral obligation to weigh in from afar on East Lansing’s mess, since I was one of the first to call attention to the city’s pending financial crisis and the need for new revenue. I also had carefully analyzed the budget, finding such hidden discrepancies as the DDA not paying fully for downtown maintenance, while it continued to embark on new, discretionary, projects, and huge deficits in self-financing for parking structures. With the help of Vic Loomis, I carefully examined all the … Read more →

Responsible and Irresponsible Bond Financing for Public Works // Eliot Singer

Twenty years ago, East Lansing voters approved debt millages amounting to $10.5 million in principal to build the aquatic center and renovate Hannah Middle School into a community center. The exact city debt millage on tax bills depends on total taxable value of East Lansing properties, so how much this has cost the average single family home can only be an approximation: $2000 over 20 years would be in the right ballpark. (School debt is set at 7 mils, despite change in total taxable … Read more →

Response to Mark Lanedson re: implications // Eliot Singer

I purposely wrote a technical piece without offering concerns and interpretations. I hope ELi will be able to obtain a copy of the Bond indenture with numbers filled in, at which point it will be easier to ask questions and offer interpretations.

The balloon payment I alluded to is speculation. We don’t know how Scottsdale Capital, associated with the father or the Harbor Bay principal, came up with $25 million to purchase the bonds. As far as I have ascertained, this is not someone … Read more →

re: Technical Analysis of Non-Recourse Tax-Increment Bonds in Reference to Lot 1 Bond // Mark Ladenson

Just so I understand, is the point of your post to question whether the planned refunding in 2020 can actually be pulled off; and if it can’t, to alert us to the looming “major implications” of the city having to make a balloon payment in 2020 to redeem the December 2017 loan of $25,265,000?

I ask because you make what seems to be a strong case for doubting that the refunding can be pulled off, but, except perhaps for your sentence that includes the … Read more →

Technical Analysis of Non-Recourse Tax-Increment Bonds in Reference to Lot 1 Bond // Eliot Singer

[I know most people, including city officials without CPA qualifications, find finance difficult. Please try to take the time to read through the details, including looking at the linked bond prospectuses. Understanding finance is not only crucial for holding governments accountable for how money is spent—this should be a bipartisan concern—but in your personal financial management. How many of you keep a budget? Do you do your own taxes? Do you manage your own investments and savings?] Non-recourse Versus Full Faith and Credit Tax … Read more →

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