Center City District bond and TIF update // Alice Dreger

There’s good financial news emerging on the Center City District project — the strict cost-control measures put in place by now-Mayor Ruth Beier and her colleagues on Council in 2017 turn out to be stricter than we had realized. In 2017, the TIF was effectively reduced by Council from a $56M cap to a $50M cap!

Combined with the new valuation method from tax assessor David Lee for big apartment buildings, this means that the Center City TIF will pay off years earlier than … Read more →

We Were Outgunned // Alice Dreger

What happened at the BRA yesterday?  ELi has my report up , but I would sum it up this way:

We were outgunned. And we were paying for the other side’s weapons.

What my reporting team saw yesterday is what we see at so many meetings. People representing our side – in this case, BRA members Jim Croom, Jeff Smith, and Aaron Stephens – ask really reasonable questions and express reasonable skepticism. 

But then, in the end, they vote “yes” without adequate protections for us. In the fog of … Read more →

Letter to the Brownfield Development Authority // Alice Dreger

I have steadily reported for East Lansing Info on the Center City District project from the day it was introduced, on many occasions with my colleague Chris Root. We have spent a lot of time using FOIA to document what has happened (and not happened) with regard to the public financing of this project.  Today I sent the attached letter (below) to the Brownfield Redevelopment Authority about their meeting which happens tomorrow (Thursday, July 9) at noon. I share it with readers of Public Response … Read more →

East Lansing City Bond Attorney // Eliot Singer

I see  in ELi  that some members of Council are (finally) questioning the continued use of the bond attorney. I would add, they also need to get rid of Baird as the city’s bond agent.

Better yet, time to stop allowing DDA/BRA to issue bonds and to stop allowing the city to issue bonds unless approved by voters. Just a reminder, the DPW building was built without voter-approved bonds (with cost overrun) after voters were promised, in approving sale of the old building, there would be no … Read more →

Selling and redeveloping city’s Evergreen properties is not financially necessary // Eliot Singer

Three of the EverGreen properties

With a new Council and an apparent willingness to look beyond the DDA for solutions to the Evergreen properties quagmire, I am going to revive my analysis from several years ago that it is not financially imperative to sell and redevelop the city’s Evergreen properties, which were originally bought with the intent of tearing them down and replacing with a massive parking garage.

Recall that the properties were bought 10 years ago for more than 3 times their assessed market value, at a time … Read more →

Refinancing the Evergreen Bonds // Eliot Singer

Something else that was mentioned in the ELi story about the Dublin Square project was the DDA wanting to refinance the bonds for the Evergreen properties.

We went round and round about this for years and years. City officials, with DDA approval, did something incredibly stupid issuing those bonds in 2009 to buy properties at 3 times market value when the economy was in collapse and with a developer who should never have been allowed within a million miles of public money. Rather than … 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 →

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 →

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