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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 →

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 … 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 … 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 →

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 … Read 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 … 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 →

Comparables re Lot 1 Development // Eliot Singer

1) The East Lansing parking structure for Center City is going to cost ~$33,000 per space, according to the contractor.

The Carl Walker Parking Structure Cost Outlook for 2017 report shows construction cost per space of parking structures in various cities around the country. Detroit was $19,873, Chicago, $23,634, Cleveland, $19,085, Minneapolis, $20,818, to give an idea about midwest cities.

http://denver.streetsblog.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/14/2017/10/2017-Cost-Article.pdf

2) The development project in which Harbor Bay is involved that most resembles Center City in East Lansing is The Hub in … Read more →

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