Sunday, February 5, 2012

CCR 02-05-12: Selling Their Souls

the Controversial Committee Report

“We don’t raise sacred cows...we just butcher them.”

Folks, this Entertainment Center fiasco has gotten even more serious. After spending $150,000 to obtain a second opinion from a bonding agency on the feasibility to commit $170 million in bonds for an Entertainment Center, the council is awaiting what Standard and Poors will report in March.

However, a report prepared by the city’s current bond consultant will be discussed at the February 8, 2012 council work session. This report will inform the council what they should already know…the financing of the Entertainment Center would now require a $211 million bond package. The proposal to finance $211 million has two probable options: raising taxes outright or placing the tax payers in line to absorb bonded debt shortfalls if the entire city debt should be re-financed. Here’s how the options play out:

  1. If the council automatically increases the property tax rate about 8.5 cents, then this might cover all the anticipated bonded debt cost for the Entertainment Center.
  2. If the tax rate isn’t increased, then council will double pledge all the HOT tax revenues -- which would place the ICVB and Arts Center budgets in peril -- and also place property tax payers on the hook for these budgets and additional bonded debt expenses that might be incurred.

Remember the days when the city council was parroting that the entire city portion of the Entertainment Center project was just going to be $150 million? Why, even staff of the CCR fell for this one! Foolish us.

Even if the council decides to move forward to approve $211 million in bonded debt as noted above, they do not know what this action will do to the city’s bond rating. A report from Standard and Poors should detail this February 22, 2012. The city’s AAA bond rating, from all initial considerations, could be in jeopardy if $211 million is financed. This has previously been noted and discussed with the council. Sadly, having a lower city bond rating might not seem to bother most of the Doddering ½Dozen.*

What hasn’t changed with this new information is the zeal, promotion and spin by those -- without any ‘skin’ in the game -- who have been expressing and spreading fluffy rhetoric around the community. New batches of Kool-Aid are being brewed and the promoters are attempting to make even more unsuspecting citizens addicts by promoting this financially dangerous shell game proposal.

What will it take for the Doddering ½Dozen on the city council to understand this simple concept...the city cannot afford to commit $211 million for bonded debt by increasing taxes or placing the tax payers on the hook when projected revenues go south? Is this really that difficult to understand for those elected to serve the best interest of the citizens? But wait...staff of the CCR forgot that the Doddering ½Dozen are representing the special interest group segments of the community that stand to gain financially if the $211 million pecuniary Ponzi scheme materializes.

Isn’t it also strange that the council only appears to be listening to: the developers (who stand to gain financially from the project) who contributed over $1 million in campaign contributions to council members; the chamber of commerce (a non-profit organization that receives $1.6 million of your city tax funds); an ex-mayor (who not only received the largest amount of campaign contributions from developers, but seemed to have 2½ years of veracity issues during his final term); a city manager who seems very reluctant to speak up for property tax payers in order to protect his 5-vote count for performance reviews; and finally, many council-appointed board members who continue to sip the Kool-Aid to go get along?

Additionally, it is still not known for sure -- at this writing -- if Billy Bob can actually garner his $80 million requirement by providing the documents as specified in the contractual agreement with the city. With his 99-year lease on the project at hand, he appears to be waiting to see if the council will succumb to his bidding while he has his minions distributing his toxic brand of financial Kool-Aid throughout the city.

It appears that the council is moving to have a final vote on this $211 million financial monstrosity on or after their March 22, 2012 meeting! And if you don’t recall, past and present council members have continuously assured voters that citizens would not bear the brunt of any expenses associated with the Convention Center or Entertainment Center. But then, their lips were moving, and we all know what that means when slimy politicians moves their lips!

With all of this bad news about the Entertainment Center, the council is still toying with the idea of having a hotel on the Convention Center and Entertainment Center site. This item will also be discussed at their February 8, 2012 work session meeting.

If the city plans to be a ‘partner’ in this project, then expect your tax rate to increase even higher. There is no demonstrable proof where a city in the ‘hotel business’ has ever made a profit or broken even when in a ‘partnership’ agreement of this nature with developers. Tax payers always have to pick up the expense/debt shortfalls. Should the council proceed, then there could be three entities that will be draining your wallet of tax bucks: the Convention Center, Entertainment Center and a Hotel.

Staff of the CCR will state it again. If the Doddering ½Dozen moves to vote and commit the city to $211 million in bonded debt anticipated to be on or after March 22, 2012, then there will be little or nothing that can be done once they pull this trigger (with the barrel of the gun pointed at you) on what certainly should be considered fiscal malfeasance.

But then, some members of the council are not running for re-election in the current cycle and others feel that time will erase voter’s memories should they decide to run again in a future election.

Before the council commits to bonded debt that can be ill afforded, readers of the CCR should express their thoughts and opinions to those who are about to make this decision. Remember, if you are not part of the solution to stop this fiscal train wreck, then you will be left at the station with empty pockets and a higher tax rate.

Your elected representatives can be reached as follows. Advise them NOW that you are paying attention and fully understand the financial quagmire that they are creating with YOUR money. And it wouldn’t hurt to send or copy this report for friends and associates.

Irving City Council

(e-mail, phone numbers, place and year term expires) 972-898-7500 Beth Van Duyne Mayor 2014 214-693-0093 Joe Philipp Place 8 2012 972-790-6478 Lewis Patrick Place 4 2012 972-871-0019 Rose Cannaday Place 5 2014 972-586-1490 Michael GallawayPlace 1 2013 214-876-7172 Rick Stopher Place 6 2012 214-929-6700 Roy Santoscoy Place 2 2013 214-490-9749 Dennis Webb Place 3 2014 972-554-1810 Gerald Farris Place 7 2013

If citizens do not take immediate action by writing or calling council members, then Irving could soon lead the area in property tax rate hikes. And the entire thanks should be given to the Doddering ½Dozen who have catered to developers, special interest groups and Billy Bob’s head cheerleader, ex-mayor Gears who looks the part with his pleated mini-skirt and pom-poms.

  • Doddering ½Dozen believed to be: council members Stopfer, Cannaday, Santoscoy, Gallaway, Webb and Patrick.