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.

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

  1. Keep up the Good Work.

    Re the City Downtown revamp for Ballpark, we were able to get the solicitation ordinance part deleted that prohibited solicitation with 15ft of any parking meter.

    Re image, I also understand some CC members want to remove all the low cost bus lines downtown, the LA express etc.

    In same vein the city is trying to put out of Biz all the 25 or so downtown payday loan shops. I helped get it abated till next year and then ended my lawsuit. But I just found all the other lawsuits in the state at this link.
    I wish I had seen this link before I ‘settled’ for just abatement. I don’t understand why the city wants to keep sinking money in this. Its a state and fed issue not city. I also noticed many sovereign IndianTribes are soliciting Payday loans in El Paso…lets see city regulate that ha.

    http://www.tml.org/payday-lawsuit-pleadings

  2. I found a case today Santos v City of Robstown and Robstown Improvement Delv Corp [RIDC] Dec 13, 2012
    http://www.leagle.com/decision/In%20TXCO%2020121213701

    re El Paso using certificate of obligation bus funds for Luther rehab and also the county raiding a CO account to fund sheriff radios…re when a city can use a designated CO for another un-designated unrepresented project. Also in our facts but not below the dodging of 5percent voters petitions by moving funds before any protest.

    from the Robstown TX case:

    “The ordinance provided for the payment of the certificates and pledged the revenues from annual ad valorem taxes, levied against all taxable property in the City, sufficient to provide for the payment of the interest on and principal of the certificates. The ordinance additionally secured the payment of the certificates “by and payable from a limited pledge of the net revenues of the [C]ity’s waterworks and sewer system.” …
    The City Council is violating the [CO] Act by using bond proceeds to demolish the present city hall when section 271.0461 of the Act provides that such bond proceeds may only be used when demolishing dangerous structures; • The City has failed to comply with the statutory requirements for reimbursement; • Any payment of the certificates from sanitary sewer system fees is an illegal tax; and • The City cannot bind the RIDC to pay on the certificates for forty years [2 years limit without sinking fund] without the creation of an interest and sinking fund…Appellants complain that the City’s allegedly illegal actions, through Mayor Ramon, pledged revenues from the sewer systems to issue the certificates of obligation for the construction of a new city hall and not for a sewer treatment or collection project. Appellants assert that they also made ultra vires allegations against Mayor Ramon related to the City’s financial condition, such as the transfer of bond funds to the City’s general account without complying with statutory requirements for reimbursement.
    In addition, appellants assert that the RIDC, through its president, performed nondiscretionary acts unauthorized by law. They claim that through Gonzalez’s actions long-term debt was created without establishing an interest and sinking fund, funds were encumbered….and public funds were transferred without authority to the City’s general fund to pay for the construction of a new city hall. Based on the above, we conclude that Mayor Rodriguez and RIDC President Gonzalez are not immune from appellants’ lawsuit, which includes claims intended to bring future acts into compliance with the statute and the constitution and to restrain prospective governmental expenditures. REVERSE AND REMAND

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