City Council Revisits the Emails and Here’s What Standard & Poor’s Thinks of the El Paso Ballpark Bonds

Today, city council is once again expected to revisit the continued saga of their refusal to release the emails requested by Stephanie Townsend Allala. As is normal for the city, who continues to ignore the will of the voters, the session will both be behind closed doors, in Executive Session, and it will cost the taxpayers more money. This is because in the additions to the Agenda; specifically EX1, the city attorney’s office is flying in the attorney’s they had contracted to fight the release of records, according to comments made at last week’s city council meeting.

City council directed the city attorney to end this case as quickly as possible and Oscar Leeser stated that he wants this case to end as quickly as possible, yet it languishes on. Today’s agenda action is posted as a “discussion and action” item so it is possible we will see some official action taken by the council to finally release the emails the public is entitled to.

Unfortunately it would not surprise me one bit if council’s action is to either postpone the item or have the city attorney continue the fight. I’ll be waiting to see what happens and I’ll let you know in tomorrow’s post.

On a related topic, it seems like the city will be attempting to sell the ballpark bonds this week. It’ll be interesting to see if they are able to, and at what interest rate.

Yesterday, I wrote about how the city is admitting to investors that the city has projected it will have to find close to $1 million to help pay the ballpark debt payments for the first six years. A reader was kind enough to share with me the Standard & Poor’s Credit Research for El Paso’s General Obligation, including the proposed ballpark bonds. The July 31, 2013 credit analysis gives El Paso’s Series 2013 Bonds a rating of “AA/Stable”. The analysis also reaffirmed the city’s existing debt as “AA/Stable”.

According to the rating agency’s opinion, the city has a “deep, diverse, and stable economy” with access to “international trade routes”. It goes on to add that the city has “strong financial management practices” and a “moderately high overall debt burden as a percent of market value, combined with higher-than-average pension obligations compared to cities of similar size and scope”.

The rating agency adds that wealth “is an adequate $46,899”. It also adds that the property tax base has increased 11.5% since 2009. The analysis details that property taxes account for 44% of the general fund revenues, while sales taxes account for 25% and franchise fees account for an additional 14%. The last 7% is generated from city services fees.

Basically, the rating agency is telling investors that El Paso is likely to pay them back. As much as we all dislike the process, the fact is that El Paso will honor its debt obligations as it is unlikely any future administration would have the political will to default on them. Of course, the taxpayers will be the ones who will take the brunt of paying them off.

Later today we’ll know what other shenanigans the city will use to delay the emails. And, next week we might learn if the ballpark bonds sold, or not.