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Farm to School // Eliot Singer

Reading Jim Anderson’s post on school reconstruction reminded me (in a non sequitur way) that I’ve been wanting to urge East Lansing schools to get involved in the farm to school movement. http://www.canr.msu.edu/farm_to_school/ I would also suggest looking at a city and MSU College of Education jointly sponsored charter school along the lines of Greenspire in Traverse City. http://www.greenspireschool.org   Eliot Singer Facebook Email Twitter Google+

East Lansing or East Laggard? A vote for fossil fuels? // James Anderson

WHY YOUR SILENCE ON ENVIRONMENTAL VANDALISM AND EXTRAVAGANT WASTE OF BOND FUNDS ON RED CEDAR BOND FUND SPENDING? AN OPEN LETTER TO BOARD OF EDUCATION MEMBERS POWERS (PRESIDENT), CHAMBERS (NEW) , GRAHAM, HENDERSON, HOEHNE, KUHNMUENCH, AND MARTIN  I challenge your public silence on the school bond expenditure plans, especially for the Red Cedar site plan, as I have challenged you in public comment at Board of Education and Bond Work Group meetings, so far in vain.  The public, which voted for the bond issue last May by a razor thin margin, has been subjected to more than eight months of complete silence in … 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 value, because of the arrangement with the state over how the bonds are repaid.) City debt … Read more →

What Are the Financial Implications for City of East Lansing of New MIP Civil Infraction Law? // Eliot Singer

As many of you know, starting January 1, first minor-in-possession offenses will be treated as civil infractions not misdemeanors. https://www.freep.com/story/news/local/michigan/2018/01/07/new-laws-underage-drinking/1008889001/ http://news.jrn.msu.edu/2017/09/east-lansing-to-reduce-mip-penalties-fines-in-2018/ I simply want to raise the question of financial implications. Fines for MIPs were $500. They will now be $100. In FY 2013 budget, District Court Fines (parking fines are a separate budget item) were expected to be $2,000,000, in FY 2018 budget, $1,375,000. One factor is probably that community policing has already reduced the number of MIPs, as well as other reasons for fewer fines. http://eastlansinginfo.org/content/amid-costly-emergency-services-and-declining-court-fines-citys-budget-woes-continue The city should have hard numbers as to how many MIPs and how much in … Read more →

City Still Shirking Responsibility for Financial Woes // Eliot Singer

I looked at the PR for public input on city financial woes, and it appears they still want to blame others, without acknowledging any financial mistakes by city government. These mistakes, some outrageous, have come at a cost of tens of millions of dollars. Even if what is done cannot be undone, unless city officials are willing to admit these mistakes and take measures to prevent recurrence, they have and will recur. 1) More than $50 million in unfunded debt service for the DPW building, City Center II Evergreen properties, parking structures that were running more than $1 million a … 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 with obvious access to that kind of cash. (DRW, the financier behind Core Campus, would have … Read more →

Fraud Lawsuit Involving City Attorney // Alice Dreger

for publication: Public Response has long been a location for ongoing discussion of concerns brought by East Lansing residents about governmental actions and policies. One of the stories that Public Response contributors and readers have tracked for years is of the use of taxpayer funds to reconstruct a retaining wall and sidewalk running along the east side of the City Attorneys’ property. Today at ELi ( eastlansinginfo.org ) we have a report up on a whistleblower suit brought on this case jointly by the United States and Phil Bellfy, and the City’s settlement of the case: http://eastlansinginfo.org/content/east-lansing-settles-fraud-lawsuit-involving-city-attorney Alice Dreger Facebook Email TwitterRead more →

Fwd: Community Engagement on City Finances Is Needed and Welcomed, And An Offer of Snow Removal Help // Nancy Cuddeback

City Council Hosting Community Engagement Meetings In the face of ongoing, significant financial challenges, East Lansing City Council will be hosting community engagement meetings to gather public input on the City of East Lansing’s budget priorities this January. The meetings, facilitated by Public Sector Consultants, will take place on the following dates at the East Lansing Hannah Community Center, 819 Abbot Road: § Wednesday, Jan. 10 from 6-8 p.m. in the Executive Conference Room § Thursday, Jan. 18 from 7-9 p.m. in the Banquet Hall These meetings will provide East Lansing residents with an opportunity to share their input as we look to prioritize City services … 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 phrase, “balloon payment”, I don’t see a discussion of the consequences of the failure of that … 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 Increment Revenue Bonds The reason city officials are not expressing concern over the commitment to redeem … Read more →

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