hidden agendaThis week, June 24-28, 2013 there are 3 city council meetings scheduled. First up is a Special workshop meeting at 1:30 PM today. It consists of Executive session (Esession) items only, meaning a secret session. We all know the topic of discussion is the Renaissance Sports and Entertainment (RSE) bid for arena management. It has been reported that the details of the bid may be released on Wednesday, June 25th. The only reason for this meeting is because RSE and the city (COG) are still negotiating the terms of the deal. There would only be two outcomes: 1. the council has accepted the terms and is comfortable with them or 2. the council still has issues with the final terms. Either way, this council has signaled that it is ready to put this issue to bed and vote on it on July 2nd. Keep in mind that just because the RSE bid has finally made it to a voting meeting does not insure a positive outcome. What it does signal is that the council is ready to vote, up or down, RSE’s bid and be done with the issue.

gambling 2The evening meeting (voting meeting) of July 25, 2013 has 3 financial items of interest. The first, Item #8 is prepayment of $5.6M of General Obligation bonds (usually paid for from the city’s secondary property tax collection) by the Water and Sewer Enterprise Fund. This is an interesting strategy and may free up General Obligation bond capacity for future bonding…on what? We can only wait and see.

man moneyThe second item, Item #26 is Authorization for Lease Financing of the City Hall Complex. In 2010, the city had to pay the NHL $25M to run the arena. This $25M has been paid to the NHL. Here’s where the money came from:

  • $21M loan from the city’s Landfill Fund
  • $4M loan from the city’s Sanitation Fund

In 2011, with the Coyotes ownership issue still not resolved, the city agreed to pay the NHL a second $25 to operate the arena. This $25M is still being held in a city escrow account. Here’s where that money came from:

  • $15M loan from the city’s Water and Sewer Fund
  • $2M from the city’s Technology Replacement Fund
  • $3M from the city’s Vehicle Replacement Fund
  • $5M to be paid with an unidentified source to NHL

This lease-back deal will replace:

  • $15M loan to the City’s Water and Sewer Fund
  • $4M to the city’s Sanitation Fund
  • $2M to the city’s Technology Replacement Fund
  • $3M to the city’s Vehicle Replacement Fund
  • $5M whose source had been unidentified and unfunded to pay the last of the NHL’s second $25M
  • $1M as a new project to upgrade the city’s Human Resources software

As you can see, that leaves 1 loan payment outstanding and that is the $21M loan from the city’s Landfill fund. That $21M is part of a reserve account to cover landfill closure. Since the landfill is not anticipated to close for 30 years, the city can afford to repay this reserve account over the next 30 years. Is this a good strategy? Yes, it is. It replenishes those Funds so that they can once again operate effectively and gives the city some breathing room to pay back those costs associated with the NHL’s operation of the arena for 2 years. It is a strategy that hopefully this council will approve.

The last item, Item #27 is an increase in rates, primarily to commercial customers for roll-off bins and disposal rates. The rental cost of a roll-off bin increases from $160 to $175 and the disposal fee per ton increases from $18 to $20. These are fees that have not been adjusted in quite some time. As usual, when there are rate increases, it becomes a double-edged sword. As the rates go up, the number of customers may decrease dependent on market competition by private sanitation companies. Nevertheless it is an increase long overdue.

budget 3The third and Special Meeting is scheduled for June 28, 2013. Do not look for a vote on the Coyotes unless this meeting agenda is changed and posted by 5 PM on Wednesday, June 26th. . The city, by law, must have its tax increasefinal adoption of Fiscal Year 2012-13 Budget Amendments and the Fiscal Year 2013-14 Property Tax Levy before July 1, 2013. These items satisfy that legal prescription and will be largely unnoticed by Glendale residents due to its final adoption on a Friday morning at 9 AM. The other two items, fire-related for strength training and medical transport, were added simply because they could be at this meeting.

There you have it. Three meetings scheduled. Only one of which is the Coyotes ownership issue and we are not privy to its goings on. The other two meetings deal with financial issues created by or related to arena management.

deadline 1The finale of the Coyotes ownership RSE bid is still scheduled for July 2, 2013. Are there 4 affirmative votes? Only the councilmembers know or think they know. If RSE still wants $15M a year as the management fee and cannot or will not guarantee a minimum of $9M in “enhanced revenue streams” to the city this council may find it a difficult deal to swallow. Are we about to experience deju vu? The very mechanics of the deal could cause the Goldwater Institute to reappear. I suspect they are watching very, very closely. Then there is Ken Jones and his ilk who absolutely hate anything Coyote related. Could they mount another referendum drive? Yes, they could and would just to stall the deal. After all, how long will Fortress Investment Group leave an open-ended loan available to RSE?