Where to go to find sneaky City of Portland loan deals
We complained last Wednesday that the City of Portland had gone out and borrowed $15 million against future gas tax revenues without any mention of the bonds anywhere on its web site. The sales pitch for the IOUs, known as the preliminary official statement, never appeared on the city's site, nor was it posted on the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board's EMMA website -- although EMMA did show last Tuesday night that the bonds were already sold as of earlier that day.
We wrote the city finance office and asked to see a copy of the sales document. They have now sent it to us, and we have posted it here. The borrowing is actually a little heftier than it appears -- the bonds were sold at a premium, which means that the city actually borrowed $16.7 million, not the $15.4 million on the cover.
We asked the city's debt office why the document hadn't been posted anywhere before the bonds were sold. Here's the response we got last Thursday afternoon:
The Preliminary Official Statement for the City's Gas Tax Revenue Bonds, 2011 Series A was published and made available to prospective investors on November 1, 2011, via the Ipreo iProspectus electronic document delivery system. The Ipreo publication system also provides bond sale information for immediate publication via Bloomberg, Thomson Reuters, The Bond Buyer and other municipal bond information distribution systems.
The Final Official Statement was published via the Ipreo system yesterday afternoon and is attached to this email per your request. The Final OS is also available on the MSRB's EMMA website at http://emma.msrb.org/default.aspx (link to the main page) or http://emma.msrb.org/IssueView/IssueDetails.aspx?id=ER345415 (link directly to the Final OS).
Kelly M. Ball
Principal Management Analyst
OMF Business Operations Division
We have taken the bait and opened an account at Ipreo, which is a private company. We signed up for something called I-Deal Prospectus, which was free. But we shouldn't have to have done that. The city's website has a page that's specifically labeled "Debt Management > Official Disclosure > Primary Market Disclosure > Current Offerings," and the documents for the gas tax bond deal were never disclosed, and still are not disclosed, there. Indeed, until we complained on Wednesday, that page had expressly stated for weeks that there were no bonds currently being offered by the city. That statement was clearly false, as the gas tax bonds were being sold the week of November 1 through 7.
If residents of Portland have to open an account at I-Deal Prospectus to find out about the city's current borrowings, then the city ought to take down its "official disclosure" pages. That's the kind of page that one either keeps current or doesn't have at all.