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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on April 6, 2012 7:41 AM. The previous post in this blog was Brady has big plans for PDC. The next post in this blog is Headline of the Week. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Friday, April 6, 2012

Taxpayers stay on the hook for Paulson stadium

Back when Little Lord Paulson was pitching the remodel of PGE Park into Jelled-When Field for his soccer team, there was a lot of discussion about where the city's $12 million contribution to the construction bill was going to come from. The official line in the City Council resolution went like this:

The source of repayment of the Bonds is expected to be the revenues and resources of the City’s Spectator Facilities Fund. In addition, the Bonds will be secured by the full faith and credit and Available General Funds of the City. If Spectator Fund revenues and resources are not sufficient to pay the debt service on the bonds, resources of the General Fund may be required to pay debt service.

The city took out a bridge loan to come up with the money, but now it's time to go to the banks and get permanent financing -- a 15-year deal, with interest only for the first 11 years and four big annual balloon payments starting in 2024. The official sales document for the bonds is here.

When you get to the part about how the bonds are going to be paid off, there's a lot of talk about property taxes. The spectator facilities fund is hardly mentioned at all, and it's obviously of minor importance:

The City has pledged its full faith and credit to pay the 2012 Series A Bonds, and the City is obligated to pay the 2012 Series A Bonds from Available General Funds as defined in the Bond Declaration pursuant to which the 2012 Series A Bonds will be issued (the “Bond Declaration”). “Available General Funds” is defined under the Bond Declaration as revenues which are legally available to pay the 2012 Series A Bonds and not prohibited for such use under the charter and ordinances of the City and Oregon laws, and includes all taxes and other legally available general funds of the City. The City is not authorized to levy additional taxes to pay the 2012 Series A Bonds. Certain City revenues credited to the City’s General Fund are legally available to pay the 2012 Series A Bonds. A principal source of these General Fund revenues is the City’s permanent tax rate property tax levy. In FY 2010-11, revenues from that levy (including current and prior year collections) were approximately $192.4 million, after delinquencies....

The 2012 Series A Bonds are expected to be repaid with revenues of the City’s Spectator Facilities Fund. Revenues of the Spectator Facilities Fund are not pledged to the 2012 Series A Bonds.

In other words, the taxpayers of the city are on the hook for this debt, and that's what the bondholders are looking to for repayment. Colors of money, my eye.

Moody's is rating the paper Aa1, and since the cash was spent for the benefit of a private company, interest is not going to be tax-exempt under the federal tax laws. It will interesting to see what kind of interest rate we have to pay. The sale is scheduled for next Thursday.

Also noteworthy: The city's showing long-term debt (not counting pensions) of $3.32 billion -- about $20 million higher than our debt clock projected. And it is planning to borrow another $256 million by the end of the summer -- $152 million for "urban renewal" nonsense, $24 million for the police training facility, and $80 million for additions to the Admiral's grand water empire. By the time the Sam Rands hit the road, the city will be pushing $7 billion in long-term debt. It's nothing short of stunning.

Comments (31)

too many numbers...too many zeros...too hard...cannot compute...better go watch Portlandia and have a latte.
This seems to be the reaction of the citizens of the city.
How come no one seems to be outraged by this state of financial affairs? Where is the unruly mob with the pitchforks?
Oh, never mind; no one wants to be strip searched for attending a protest, peaceful or otherwise.

And how many of those debts incurred by the taxpayers of the City of Portland have been approved by a vote of those same taxpayers?

And so to top it off, for mayor, to pick someone to oversee the coping with that $7 Billion in debt -- with undoubtedly more to come before the pipers demand payments due and/or a smart person derails those huckster gravy trains -- the "top" 3 candidates are a tax-avoiding streetcar salesman, a grocery checkout gal, and some weird politikid scofflaw who has to have his daddy get him out of his traffic tickets. Vote fiscally responsible: Scott Fernandez.

Jelled-When Field

Shouldn't that be Jailed-When? Field?

Portland official's motto...

"More, more, faster, faster..."

...like they're trying to achieve a spending and debt orgasm.

Is bankruptcy the goal to advance social and behaviorial "change"?

"City revenues credited to the City’s General Fund are legally available to pay the 2012 Series A Bonds. A principal source of these General Fund revenues is the City’s permanent tax rate property tax levy."

Gee, what a surprise. Add this $12M to the $35M we threw into PGC Park for Gardiner/Glickman and it looks really nice.

Sure is easy to spend other people's money isnt' it Randy?

Who are they kidding with this:
"The City is not authorized to levy additional taxes to pay the 2012 Series A Bonds."

No, you just take it out of the revenue pool, and when that gets drained enough you say, "But we have to levy additional taxes. There's not enough for basic services in the revenue pool."

What is particularly mystifying is that the city refuses to put a ticket tax on the Timbers that would at least recoup some of these funds. As the Timbers, city, and news outlets have had no problem advertising how much demand there is for Timbers tickets, a $10 tax per ticket to pay for their stadium would not be out of line and not result in reduction of fan interest.

Granted, a drop in the bucket compared to what is owed. But at least let those actually going to games and promoting this soccer nonsense pay a bigger share of it.

I'd imagine that the interest rate is lower with the General Fund backing, particularly given this year's NBA strike and the unsettledness of the Blazers at the moment. Per the last paragraph quoted, the intent is still to use the Spectator Fund. (For those who are wondering, the Spectator Facilities Fund is derived primarily from Rose Garden event and parking fees.)

Jack, re your note about the Moody's rating: Has the tax exemption status changed? The stadium remains publicly owned; it still hosts numerous high school and collegiate events. The only thing that would seem to alter the status would be the Providence Health Clinic on the southeast corner. The percentage of public use has surely gone up, what with baseball gone.

Kent: Keep in mind that the Timbers paid/are paying two-thirds of the 2010 renovation cost.

Wait, 12 million donation to build a stadium? Isn't Trimet facing a 12 million budget deficit? Hmm....looks like the bureaucracy's priorities are a little out of adjustment. Not surprising.

Roger: Explain the benefits non-soccer goers are getting by picking up the tab of the remaining 1/3.

Vote fiscally responsible: Scott Fernandez.

http://scottfernandezformayor.com/

Henry Paulson, the minority owner of the Portland Timbers and financial power behind Merritt, personally helped to orchestrate the biggest fraud in the history of the world and then went on to protect and reward the perpetrators.

During Henry's time at the head of Goldman Sachs, that firm helped Greece begin its descent into financial chaos, but that's just a small part of it. Henry's lobbying for changes in the amount of money banks could gamble on derivatives, places him on the short list of the people who crushed the world economy. So we put our geniuses Sam and Randy up against these guys?

It's staggering really. When you look at the damage caused by the Bush administration: The war crimes, the wars of choice, torture, etc...(by the way, read today's story about internal documents within the administration - they knew they were committing war crimes.) Anyway, it's fascinating to think that of all this cast of cretins: Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, Wolfowitz, and on and on...the person who actually hurt the world most is our beloved Timbers minority owner and money man Henry Paulson. And yet, Sam and Randy couldn't wait to kiss his butt.

I find it incredibly ironic of a city that is so anti-big business and anti-bank, that it puts so much trust and faith in selling bonds which are usually supported by and often purchased by these big banks, that gladly fund Portland's pet projects left and right. (Not to mention that Portland's two tallest and most "iconic" buildings are named by large national banks.)

TriMet is complaining about its labor expense...but how much money is spent on interest expense - the cost of borrowing money to build light rail lines? And baseball stadiums, and sustainability centers, and new PSU and OHSU buildings...

Max Brumm may be the ONLY Mayoral Candidate that has been the most financially responsible one in the race...the most vocal over the Psulson stadium takeover...Portland Voter's need to wake up and get behind the kid who doesn't have a corporate pricetag! Check out www.max4mayor.com...looks like he means what he says!

I supposed it does no good to say,

I TOLD YOU SO!


This couldn't possibly be a way for the New York crowd to steal even more of our common wealth by "helping" municipal governments to take on too much debt?

And all those rabid soccer fans, I hope you enjoy the game as you force grandma out of her house 'cause she can't pay the property tax no more.

As Steve noted, there was prior money thrown at the stadium prior to the Timbers. I believe there is about 23-24 million still owing from the initial rehaqb of the stadium.

Meanwhile, as many have noted, the city's general funds are stagnant, and general services are being cut. Watch the news regarding next year's City budget, and which are the winners and which are the losers when it comes to general funds.

It doesn't sound like there will be anything left for any to be in a winner category! I think they are scraping the bottom of the barrel, so far as anything going to the general public.

How about throwing a monkey wrench in the works with an initiative forbidding spending of tax money on any bond not previously approved by the voters. Maybe we can even make the council members that voted for this crap pay the tab.

Let wall street fight it out in the courts.

Let Moodys give us a ZZZ- rating and that should stop this crap.

Thanks
JK

"Keep in mind that the Timbers paid/are paying two-thirds of the 2010 renovation cost."

Source?

I thought all we got out of Paulson was a year's rent 20 years from now and a chunk of the common ticket sales (SFF). Besides there's another $35M left over from Vera to pay.

Meanwhile the schools rot and potholes grow.

I haven't figure out yet if liberals (progressives as they want to be called these days I guess) want to drive all gov bodies into bankruptcy, or if that is just an unintended consequence of their policies.

Does anyone know for sure? Looking around the country (and the world) I see a huge amount of debt being piled up by well intentioned (ignorant?) liberals. Most of it having to do with union benefits, but some due to "green" scams and/or mass transit.

Portland isn't as bad yet as Greece, or Detroit or Stockton or Harrisburg, but we seem to be on the same road.

The part that I find odd is that it is the same policies around the world that are causing the debt issues, but nobody in office seems to grasp that simple fact. Or is it that they do fully understand the issue, but choose not to modify their behavior?

I wonder what it would take to get a straight answer to that question from Portland city council members?

The schools may be rotting, but that has nothing to do with CoPo - schools aren't among their core functions. Schools are rotting because they have too many highly-compensated administrators, and over the years they've deferred maintenance; diverting funds to benefits. That's why PPS tried to hit you up for a huge bond measure "It's for the children™!" I hate CoPo waste as much as anybody here, but the state of our schools isn't on them.

Interesting side-note: of the few PPS students who actually graduate and go on to college, a large majority have to take remedial math and reading classes before they can move on. That should tell you where the nearly $12,000 per student per year is not going.

Now, as far as potholes and paving - I couldn't agree more. Stop with the eco-roofs and the bioswales and fix the roads.

"I hate CoPo waste as much as anybody here, but the state of our schools isn't on them."

Re-read how TIF works on Urban Renewal districts. Every one they set up takes funding from schools.


I haven't figure out yet if liberals (progressives as they want to be called these days I guess) want to drive all gov bodies into bankruptcy, or if that is just an unintended consequence of their policies.

If you take a listen to our local Progressive radio outlet in the morning, there are more important things to talk about:

  • evil Republicans
  • evil rascists
  • evil Bush
  • evil rich (they need to pay more)
  • fawning over the top 3 Mayoral candidates
  • fawning over the Occupiers
  • fawning over our local solar, green, and bike culture
  • etc...

I have yet to hear any discussion over the brink the City of Portland or Oregon is on with its financial situation, except to blame it on the failure of the rich to pay their fair share.

The frequency of their public service announcements, and switching over to sports in the afternoon tells me that they should be worrying about their lack of advertiser support, and that perhaps their programming is keeping advertisers looking to other venues.

Perhaps a telethon soliciting funding from their local listening audience will show them where their support really lies.

The part that I find odd is that it is the same policies around the world that are causing the debt issues, but nobody in office seems to grasp that simple fact. Or is it that they do fully understand the issue, but choose not to modify their behavior?

I wonder what it would take to get a straight answer to that question from Portland city council members?

Unfortunately, I think they do understand and debt swamp us anyway. When the council chambers are filled upstairs and downstairs with citizens and businesses telling the Council to stop the spending, the debt and increased water rates. After all that testimony, they just sat up there, essentially ignored the good testimony and had those three votes (Adams, Leonard and Fish)ready to pour another $80 million into that Powell Butte project.

I think many of us got the answer that day.
They do understand. If they didn't, they are inept and don't belong in that decision making position. Why would they deliberately debt swamp us? Who do they work for?

Re-read how TIF works on Urban Renewal districts. Every one they set up takes funding from schools.

Statewide, not just Portland, where we spend $12k per student per year. You really think the TIF would improve academic performance and halt the deferred maintenance?

Max, urban renewal costs (TIF) to PPS has been posted here many times. According to PPS's own financial statements and projections, the loss for the next five years averages over $32 Million PER YEAR, and climbing. That means over $169 Million lost to PPS. I think that might fix many schools and help academic performance.

Now consider all the dollar loses to PPS since 1964 when the first URA formed, the South Auditorium URA. We're at 11 URAs now, Sam wants to add 7 more. Only one has fully expired-South Auditorium, and now Sam wants to include most of it's 1964 Boundaries in his proposed new Education URA. Redundancy. We urbanrenewalized the are in the 60's through 80's, now Sam calls it blighted again. Really?

Has anyone made comparisons of other cities versus pdx on URA's?

The irony of the scene is that by the time they are done, much of the city will be blighted. No roads paved for five years ought to go far in putting us on the map as
The City of Blight.

Steve: I doubt you're still looking for this, but here's the Oregonian summation of the stadium deal about a month before the initial vote: The numbers may have wiggled a little bit, but this is the basic deal.

http://www.oregonlive.com/portland/index.ssf/2010/01/deal_for_pge_park_done_going_t.html

The money summation: "Paulson pays $8 million in cash upfront and another $11.1 million into the city's Spectator Facilities Fund as prepaid rent to serve as a construction loan. The city will borrow $11.9 million using nontraditional zero-coupon bonds to defer interest and principal payments." That's 61 percent. Subsequent reports in the Oregonian knocked the city share down to $11.2 when the city agreed to waive $700K in development fees. As presented, that's a 63 percent contribution.

Don't forget the $28 million for PFE's baseball remodel the taxpayers of Portland are on the hook for.

You remember that remodel, doncha: the one that would make PGE Park the premier minor league ballpark on the West Coast.

Debts are stubborn things.


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