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#440458 - 06/13/12 02:00 PM City Hall floats mini ‘Superbond’
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Darrell Bradley

The Belize City Council today held a press conference to present the achievements of the hundred day plan they had set out upon taking office in March of this year. While they haven’t achieved the hundred items on the list in the first ninety-seven days, they have achieved more than eighty percent of it. One of those items on the list is the upgrade of the streets in the city as a part of the infrastructure plan for the old capital. Today Mayor Bradley told the media that while the City Council’s budget will not be able to foot the entire infrastructural works to be done, they were able to refinance a one million dollar facility which they used to purchase equipment for street upgrades. Bradley says that they are in the process of attempting a second one million dollar facility which will allow for works to be completed for ten to thirteen streets, particularly on the south side. But the bigger plan for the rest of the city is to take out a twenty million dollar bond. The mayor says City Hall isn’t asking Central Government to float its bond.

Darrell Bradley, Belize City Mayor

“But the long term plan, I cannot go to the bank regularly and borrow money; our director of finance will tell me, ‘you have to stop.’ So the idea is that we want to really consolidate everything that we have and put it in a debt; a bond so that we are able to do a massive project. And the bond, our target is twenty million dollars that we want to raise and we are looking at having the first tranche of this bond released in July and that first tranche will be eight million dollars and that eight million dollars will allow us to fix substantial amounts of main streets in Belize City. What I’m talking about is being able to do Freetown Road, Barrack Road, Hyde’s Lane, Queen Street, North Front Street, New Road and Douglas Jones Street so that the driving experience coming from the north side will be very good. Then the next we move to south side and look into all the streets in the down town area the Albert Street area. We will look at portions of Vernon Street, portions of Fabers road and portions of main streets in some of neighborhood communities like Lake Independence, Port Loyola and the Collet Area and that basically will put us at eight million dollars. With the second tranche of the bond we want to look at streets like Baymen Avenue and Princess Margaret Drive. So the second tranche of the bond will allow us to do major streets and the last area of the bond will be a revenue component. The last tranche we’re still discussing this; the third tranche we’re developing ideas and the works that we want to do is to discuss doing a very entrance into the city and then we would toll that road. That would actually generate; it’s called a revenue bond because it is revenue generating and that would allow us to repay that portion of the bond.

We have not asked the Central Government to guarantee the bond. I have been participating in a series of conferences over the last ninety seven days since I’ve been mayor. One of the major pushes has been the issue of municipal autonomy. We need to regularize the property tax rolls to ensure that everyone pays their equal share and if we are able to do this, the person who has been advising us has told me that we can pay the first tranche of the bond within a five year period and we do not need any additional revenue streams for that initial portion and we can look at other revenue streams to pay back the entire issue, the entire twenty million dollars but we do not need any guarantee nor do we need any underwriting from central government.”

We’ll have more on the hundred day plan in Wednesday night’s newscast.

Channel 5

#443235 - 07/25/12 01:14 PM Re: City Hall floats mini ‘Superbond’ [Re: Marty]
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Flip Side Of City Bond: You'll Have To Pay For A Shining City!

We all want to live in a shining city by the sea - but how many of us are willing to pay for it? That's the quandary that faces Belize City residents as Mayor Darrell Bradley is trying to modernize and upgrade a city that's been neglected for decades.

Last night we told you all about the municipal bond he wants to float, which if successful, would raise twenty million dollars. And while he wants regular folks to invest in it - he's also depending on those regular city residents to make it more the bond more viable by juicing up the city's' revenue stream.

That means paying a monthly tax for garbage collection, paying your property taxes and paying for parking.

Bradley outlined some of those revenue generating measures in his press conference yesterday - here's what he said:..

Mayor Darrell Bradley
"The re-assessment in property taxes and the residential garbage fee. We are doing negotiations also with BWS and we are talking about putting this fee onto person's water bill so that that will assist us in terms of the collections."

"My hope is that people will voluntarily pay for it. If you don't want to pay for it we can't get the city that you want. It's that simple. We cannot build the kinds of streets and the kind of drainage works unless we raise revenue. This is the only way that we can raise revenue. I will only add that every that every single municipality in Belize including Ladyville and Placencia has a residential garbage fee. Ladyville - the garbage fee is $15 per month. We are talking a fee of about $10 per month for 8 pick-ups. We cannot enter an agreement with BWS, it would be some other utility company or we have to put in place some other mechanism. But come September of this year that fee will be a reality and we are thinking about additional revenue streams for example residents may know that starting this morning we have begun to charge for parking at the NICH parking lot. Charging for parking will be a reality in our city in the near future. We are looking at pilot programs for parking meters and things like that and all of those things will allow us to be able to raise additional revenue to service this thing and to address the streets and works needs of Belize City."

Calculated at a 70% collection rate, it is projected that the garbage tax would raise at least 1.8 million dollars annually.

Channel 7

#446394 - 09/12/12 12:52 PM Re: City Hall floats mini ‘Superbond’ [Re: Marty]
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City Bond In Trouble?

It had a sort of soft public relations launch in mid-July, but since then we haven't heard much about the municipal bond. The prospectus was to have been issued by the end of July, and then the end of August - and now we're in the middle of September, and it still has not been published.

And now there is news that makes it clear that all is not well with the bond.

A press release has been sent out from the Legacy Fund - which had been retained as the council's financial advisor - to state that it quote, "announces the end of its service provider role with the Belize City Council with respect to the $20 million Belize City infrastructural bond project…As of 27 August 2012, Legacy has been disengaged from the project, due to an impasse with the Council over terms and conditions on moving forward with the municipal bond offering."

That's big news and bad news for the city hall, which up until now had been on a roll. But it seems it has hit a brick wall with the bond launch - and it is unclear what the next step will be.

We tried to reach Mayor Darrell Bradley but he did not return our text message requesting a comment. We'll keep following the story.

Channel 7

#446713 - 09/15/12 01:14 PM Re: City Hall floats mini ‘Superbond’ [Re: Marty]
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City Hall Will Soldier On Without The Legacy Fund

Earlier this week, we reported that the Legacy Fund quite suddenly announced that it had disengaged from the City Council - where it was retained as financial advisor in putting together the municipal bond.

That fallout occurred with just weeks to go before the launch of the much-delayed prospectus.

So then is the 20 million dollar municipal bond in trouble? The mayor bristled at the suggestion when we spoke to him today:..

Jules Vasquez
"What went wrong with the Legacy Fund that caused them to send out this very adverse release?"

Mayor Darrell Bradley
"I don't think that anything went wrong. From the very beginning we've been using several financial advisors to advise us as it relates to the launch of the bond. We've been assisted tremendously by Legacy. They did a full forensic of our financial operations. They delivered on a lot of the works that they were supposed to give us in terms of putting us on the right footing meeting with potential investors. We also have benefitted from the insight direction of the Central Bank of Belize. We've also been advised by our internal persons. We have our auditors who are also assisting us. So we have a team of financial advisors who have complemented the internal persons from the city council who really are in charge of the release of this bond and our perspective and so it's not a problem for us to say that well at one point certain works to be delivered by a certain service supplier has been completed and we don't want to proceed with you going forward."

"There is nothing wrong with that and that does not derailed or threaten the launch of our bond nor does that derail and threaten the confidence that our potential investors have express in the bond program."

Jules Vasquez
"Who is ending the relationship? Is it Legacy or is it the city council? The way the press release reads is that Legacy is terminating its relationship with the city council."

Mayor Darrell Bradley
"I have not read the press release myself and so the situation is...."

Jules Vasquez
"You mean you haven't been sent the press release?"

Mayor Darrell Bradley
"No I have not read it."

Jules Vasquez
"Then that's an indication that something is wrong."

Mayor Darrell Bradley
"I spoke to Ervin this morning and I don't think that anything is wrong with the process. All persons who are dealing with this are supreme professionals. Legacy is a firm that is made up of professional persons and I am confident of that. The city council is made up of individuals who are professionals and we act in a professional manner. If you reach a certain point where you disengage from a person who is providing advice to you, that does not jeopardize the integrity of the program and that's what we are saying. We are saying that both Legacy and the city council continue to be committed to the program and we are supremely confident that we will be able to launch our bond in the very near future."

"Up until this week here I have had meetings with very large potential investors and they are very interested in purchasing the bond and in moving forward and so we don't think that this will be a stumbling block. Of course it would be remiss of me to say that it's something that i would wanted to avoid but I don't think that it would be any impediment force to launch the bond."

Jules Vasquez
"Where are we with the process?"

Mayor Darrell Bradley
"The process is we are finalizing our prospectus. One of the things you have to realize Jules is that this is the first ever bond that any municipality in the Caribbean has done; it's the first that any municipality in Belize has done and it's a learning curve for us as well. I am not any financial genius, I don't pretend to be. I am not somebody who knows a lot about these things. This is why we have multiple financial advisors and so any delay is only caused as a result of our intention to ensure that we get this thing right."

"I wouldn't say that anything is delayed or anything is been stalled. I would say though that it is a monumental process. It's a huge process and it involves a lot of players and we want to ensure that we get this right. We want to ensure that the advice we take is 100% accurate and that a lot of people are consulting and holding our hands so that we ensure that whatever we put out there and whatever we launched we can stand by it for this full life of the program which would be 8 years."

Jules Vasquez
"Might you in haste have underestimated the complexity of the bond? Might you in haste have underestimated the difficulty of paving 10 streets at once and having to do water works? Have you been moving? Nobody is criticizing you but sometimes speed kills."

Mayor Darrell Bradley
"There is certain urgency to what we are doing. Residents of Belize City are driving on streets. Kids are walking in water to access their schools or to access their homes and that is a situation where it's an urgency for us to change that, so I don't apologize for wanting to move in haste because residents of Belize City are telling me that they want their street to be fixed yesterday. This is something that we need to be aggressive about and this is something that we need to be fast about."

Jules Vasquez
"When you were talking about the prospectus in July and August, might you then have underestimated the complexity of launching a bond and how will you proceed now having not advisors?"

Mayor Darrell Bradley
"We do have advisors. I have indicated to you that we have been advised by many people. We don't have the benefit at this present moment of Legacy being our advisors. Jules, this is not a thing where we got up one day and we said let's do a bond. This is something which we were working on even before the election. It is something which is very complicated. I never indicated to any residents of Belize City that this would have been an easy process. If it was easy all our streets would have been paved."

Jules Vasquez
"But you don't have the expertise in house to dance - you don't have finance in house."

Mayor Darrell Bradley
"Yes we do, Jules, our ability to deliver on the commitments to residents is paramount. All the works that you have seen so far - 23 streets, 22 of them were being done with cement - all of that has been done through the expertise of our internal persons. Legacy did not advise us on that. When we are doing these works we are doing them because of our internal expertise. This program that we are doing is bigger than one company and one program or one individual and no one company is saying that they have disengaged or derail us."

Marion Ali, reporter
"Let me ask you this mayor. Is there a time for mending fences with Legacy and if so it would be on new terms, new conditions and if not then are you looking for replacement?"

Mayor Darrell Bradley
"As I said we don't feet that as this present moment it is a situation where we need or move forward with them particularly because as I said when we work with them we move in way of a stage. They were supposed to deliver certain services to us which they have delivered. The only thing that is remaining for us to do is to really launch the prospectus and to have people subscribe to the bond. We have already gotten the financial advice that we need. We have already done our forecasting for the next 8 years. We already have our audited financial report which as soon as we signed off I will make that report public so that you could go through it, you could scrutinized us, so everything really is at a point where we are ready to launched."

Jules Vasquez
"If the government were to use White Oaks or Ambassador Espat in its super bond re-negotiation that would be consequential the markets would shutter. We don't have markets here but we do have prospective investors. You have lost your advisor - you have lost your equivalent of your White Oaks."

Mayor Darrell Bradley
"I wouldn't say that Jules."

Jules Vasquez
"That's a matter of fact. A bond is a particular instrument sir."

Mayor Darrell Bradley
"The market is driven by investor confidents and one of the things which I have been pleased about is that we have been able through the works as I said that we have done with the resources of the city council. We have been able to show people what can be done in the city. We can have a city which moves on much faster pace and is much further along in terms of the quality of our infrastructure. The market does not depend on a financial investor or one or two people. It depends on the confidence of people in the market who are willing to take acceptable risk to invest in a project. We are telling people to invest in the municipal bond because you are investing in the city, you are investing in building the streets and drains that you drive on, that your children drive on and that your customers drive on and it has been receptive. We are receiving a lot of support. This street that we are on right now - we built this street, Puma Street, we were able to build this street not with Legacy or nor with anybody else. We were able to build this street because Puma approach us and they said that they want to do this street. They gave us the land, they gave us half the money and we tendered the project and we able to do it because of our commitment to deliver to residents of Belize City."

Bradley says the bond prospectus should be launched in the next two weeks. He says it was delayed for about a week by Legacy's departure.

So what caused the rift? Well, depends on who you speak to. Council insiders say Legacy wanted to increase their fees, and that there was a difference of opinion over who would pay the lawyer's fees, while those in Legacy's camp say there were fundamental differences on procedures with the Council leadership.

Channel 7

#448870 - 10/17/12 12:36 PM Re: City Hall floats mini ‘Superbond’ [Re: Marty]
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Mayor: City Bond Not Moribund

And while we had a chance to speak to Mayor Bradley, we asked him about the Municipal Bond.

It's been 3 weeks since the bill for the bond was passed by the senate, but the prospectus has still not been launched. So what's the delay?

Bradley said that although he can't give a timeline when the bond will be released, it is still very much a viable project with one strategic investor already in negotiations.

Mayor Darrell Bradley
"It's difficulty to give timeline particularly because at this present moment we are negotiating with one particular institution/investor and that institution/investor has given their requirements as to their own due diligence process and we are trying to satisfy that. If that works successfully that would be a neat process because it means that we would be dealing with one entity - they residents of Belize City get their money - we can forward with the works in terms of our infrastructure project and then they will deal with whatever they have to do in terms of any kind of further resale of the bond to other potential investors. That's one faucet that we are looking into, of course again that itself has a certain timeline in term of that process, but the production of our prospectus which is all we really need to release the bond is in its final stages - we are just looking at the forecasting and we are looking at how the projected timeline in relation to how we receive the money because how we receive the money is to a large extent as it relates as how we can spend the money. We don't want to get 20 million dollars and put it in a bank and have to pay interest on that money and not be able to work the streets because BWS, BTL and BEL can't fix the street in time. We've been having delays on Freetown Road; I expected those works to be much further along than they are now. All of these things go together in terms of saying when we can release. In relations to the City capacity to release a bond - we can release the bond right now because our prospectus is all but finalized."

Bradley told us that his council is very much aware of the areas of the city which need attention, and he is asking the citizens to hold on a while longer while the process takes its course.

Channel 7

#450213 - 11/01/12 12:13 PM Re: City Hall floats mini ‘Superbond’ [Re: Marty]
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Finally, Municipal Bond Will Launch

And while that is micro-business, the municipal bond is big business. It's an 18 million dollar bond offering -t eh first of its kind in the region.

Long promised, for months, we've been commenting on its failure to launch - as the prospectus was first promised in July, then August, then September, and now October is finished.

That's why we were surprised today when the mayor told us that it will be launched in two weeks.

Here's his interview:

Jules Vasquez
"Is it real? Is the prospectus finally upon us?"

Darrell Bradley - Mayor, Belize City Council
"This is our final draft in terms of the prospectus. What we've done is we've circulated it to some of our stakeholders so that there will be just a final review. And of course, we're going to send it out to get published with a nice design and other things like that. For a prospectus, it's a reasonably sized document. Everything has come together, and we've declared November 15, as our launch date for the municipal bond prospectus. And we expect that a significant amount of the bond will be sold on November 15, or very shortly thereafter, and very shortly after that, we will get in flows."

Jules Vasquez
"Who will be the principal strategic investors? There are rumors about it will be - the Belize Bank has shown interest, and so has Social Security. Eternally Liquid will also be buying into it. Is that accurate?"

Darrell Bradley
"Well, we have been making presentations to both those organizations, in addition to others. Of course, you know that bond will serve as the liquidity reserve requirement for insurance companies. And so, insurance companies have expressed a significant interest in buying into the bond program. We've also been talking with very large businesses. I don't want to name them over the air, but a lot of people have expressed interest in buying into the program. And what we expect is that we will have a good idea of where we are at November 15, in terms of who all will be subscribers, and I expect that we will sell a significant amount of the bond within a day or a couple days after the release."

Tomorrow we'll have more of our discussion with the mayor about the in's and out's of the bond and whether city hall has run itself broke with all those concrete streets.

Channel 7

#450576 - 11/08/12 01:20 PM Re: City Hall floats mini ‘Superbond’ [Re: Marty]
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Did The Magic-Wand Mayor Drive City Hall To A "Fiscal Cliff"?

After the presidential election in the US, the term "fiscal-cliff" has taken center stage in the new cycle. It refers to $600 billion in automatic tax increases and spending cuts set to take effect at year's end - if President Obama can't reach a compromise with a Republican Congress.

But it's a little known fact that the City Council was facing its own fiscal cliff a few weeks ago. Now, it wasn't billions of dollars, but the Council was way behind on its payments to the Sanitation companies.

And that's because City Hall is throwing everything it has into street paving. It's a massive effort - and 31 streets have been concrete paved in six months - which is completely unprecedented.

But, we wondered, has the mayor - in his mono-maniacal pursuit to pave-more-streets - put the city council, and the city itself in a bad position?

We put that to him today in a feisty, extended interview. It is long, but it is also revealing. Here's how the back and forth went:

Jules Vasquez
"So, we have North Front Street, which is being done under the STP. Then you have Freetown Road, which is now receiving major surgery. So, I'm saying that these are 2 of the major arteries on the Northside. Is it too much, Mayor?"

Darrell Bradley - Mayor, Belize City Council
"I don't think it is, and the City is working on Freetown. I've spoken to the contractor yesterday, and I've asked him to see what we could do. A portion of Freetown, BWS is still working on, so our contractor is working on half of the street while BWS is finishing their works. We're going to start Mapp Street, and we're going to start the other side of North Front Street. I don't think it's too much work; I think that with proper coordination and with greater traffic management - some of the works - I hoped that Freetown Road been much further along by now. We're now actually 2 and a half months on that particular street. It's a main street; it's 1.3 miles of road, and that's one of the reasons why it's taking so long. And there's a tremendous coordination that has to go between the City and BWS, but we're hoping that we could finish that street by the ending of November. When the streets are finished, people will not complain any longer. We're also mindful that the Christmas season is about, and we know that persons will be travelling about increasingly because they'll be going to stores; they'll be going to the downtown area. So, we're trying to see how much work we can really push before that rush starts, and we will then take a little break and start back in January."

Jules Vasquez
"The Council, which was strapped for cash recently - in a cash flow crisis, which you refuse to concede to - however it got some bridge financing, which evened that out. And, you've proceeded spending again like there's no tomorrow. I shudder to think what will be the case when the bonded is floated - if it is successfully subscribed to."

Darrell Bradley
"Well, you would ask me this, and the reality is that I had expected the bond to have been floated by now. That's the reality, and so the Council had been stretched because many of the infrastructural works we had expected to be paying for out of the bond proceeds, whereas we're trying to pay for it out of our internal funds. That's unsustainable. These are works that we're investing in that's unbudgeted, and that causes a problem on our cash flow because we didn't expect to spend that. We expected to be spending out of the bond proceeds. One of the things that we're going to do with any additional financing that we do is, we're going to treat it as an advance on the bond because all the monies that we're getting from any of the financing or from our internal funds are going strictly to street infrastructure work. But, we're expecting that the bond will be released. We're right on target for November 15, and we're expecting that shortly thereafter, monies will begin to come in under that project."

Jules Vasquez
"Obviously, it's very intoxicating to be the magic wand mayor, but at a certain point, one has to adhere to prudential standards of fiscal management. You have recklessly managed the-"

Darrell Bradley
"That's how you put it?"

Jules Vasquez
"Yes, I'm not saying that you've mismanaged. I'm saying that you recklessly managed the City's finances in over-extending the City, with the bond not being floated, and we don't know if it will be fully subscribed. You have put the Council - through your own doing - in adverse position where recently it was behind on its obligations, for example to the sanitation companies. You have proceeded with undue haste."

Darrell Bradley
"Well, there is no - first of all, I totally reject everything that you've said. I think that it is very uncharacteristic of the reality. The truth of the matter is that when you look our City, and when you look at indicators of our City, we are not doing what we should be doing. We, as a city, should be far advanced of where we are. For example, every single day at this present moment, when I meet with my engineers and my technical team, I tell them that by now, we should have finished North Front Street. We should have finished Mapp Street. We are behind in terms of schedules. I took a tour in Lake Independence, and I observed Lawrence Avenue. There was more water on the street, than there was street. That requires a certain level of urgency, and as Mayor of the City, I can't go around the City, sit in my office, and know that children have to walk through water to get to school, or people have to be driving through those unsightly condition. So, I make no apologies for being fast on the works that we do. I know that it's inconvenience. I know that it has put a strain on our budget because a lot of the street works have been unbudgeted. But, this is what the City is supposed to do; we are supposed to be the custodian of the City's infrastructure. People won't invest in a city; businesses won't develop in a city if when people come through our roads, they're driving through potholes, mud, and water. And so, I entirely reject everything that you're saying. I make no apologies for everything that you're saying because at the end of the day, the City is meeting its obligations. We're not a for-profit organization. We're paying our major suppliers. We're meeting our obligations, and we are delivering on our commitment to the residents of Belize City. At present count now, we have cemented 31 major streets in Belize City. And that is a success in only a short period of time. Right now, we're at 31; I want that number to be at 61 or a 101 because we need, as a city council, to cement every single street in the City. And if we have to get a bond to do it; if we have to go to banks to do it; if we have to be a little bit on the edge - I wouldn't characterize it as irresponsible. But I'm saying that we will take calculated risks to ensure that the residents of Belize City drive on quality streets; I don't make any apologies for that. That's what the people want, and that's what they elected me for."

Jules Vasquez
"However, at the same time, you can't pay Luke Jones the $16,000 that the Council owes him."

Darrell Bradley
"Man, I will show you checks that we've written to Luke Jones. The reality of the matter is - and this is the truth in any large company - the City Council presently employees 268 people. We've reduced that from 297 when I got elected. So, we're cutting our staff. Whenever anybody goes on any kind of retirement, or any kind of termination, and they're entitled to their benefits, a lot of times, the money that they are due is not something that you have in the bank. The City Council doesn't have any vault where we have a significant amount of money. You want to retire or leave now? Okay, I'll just right you a check. We don't have that luxury."

Jules Vasquez
"You have a fried chicken budget but a lobster appetite in terms of the Council."

Darrell Bradley
"I wouldn't concede to that-"

Jules Vasquez
"You can't afford to pave all the streets in the City. We don't have the revenue base to support it."

Darrell Bradley
"Man Jules, I sit every single day with my City Administrator, City Engineer, and my Councilors, and they tell me the same thing you are telling me. They look at me and say, 'Mayor, you can't this, that, and that.' And you know what I look at them and tell them? We're at 31 now. You're telling me that I can't do this. We have never defaulted on our salaries. We have honored our obligations with our sanitation contractors. We're honoring our obligations with people leave the Council, in terms of paying them whatever gratuity and they're due, and we've built 31 streets. You are telling me that I can't do it, and it is happening. So, the problem really is not that there is fiscal cliff - if you will - that the City will fall off of. The problem is the lack of fortitude and determination on the part of the people who are supposed to be involved."

The prospectus for the municipal bond is scheduled to be launched next week.

Channel 7

#450712 - 11/09/12 01:15 PM Re: City Hall floats mini ‘Superbond’ [Re: Marty]
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Mayor Darrell And "The Cliff"

If you saw the news last night, you probably remember our interview with Belize City Mayor Darrel Bradley.

He staunchly defended himself against criticism that - in his haste to pave so many streets - he had over-extended the council - and put it in a cash flow crisis - or in more trendy terms, put it at the edge of a fiscal cliff.

Here's how the Mayor explained the difference between being at the edge and going over it:..

Mayor Darrell Bradley
"The council had been stretch because many of the infrastructure works we had expected now to be paying for out of bond proceeds. Whereas we are trying to pay for it out of internal funds that is unsustainable. These are works that we are investing in. It's unbudgeted and of course that causes a problem on our cash flow because we didn't expect to spend them."

Jules Vasquez
"You have put the council through your own doing in an adverse position where recently it was behind on its obligations for example to the sanitation companies."

Mayor Darrell Bradley
"I entirely reject everything that you are saying; I make no apologies for everything that you are saying because at the end of the day the city is meeting its obligations. If we have to be a little bit on the edge I wouldn't characterized it as irresponsible."

Jules Vasquez
"You have a fry chicken budget but a lobster appetite in terms of the council. We can't afford to pave all the streets in the city. We don't have the revenue base to support it."

Mayor Darrell Bradley
"Man Jules, I sit everyday with my city administrator, city engineer and sometimes with councilors and they tell me the same thing you are telling me. They look at me and they say Mayor you can't do this and you can't do that and you know what I look back and I tell them, we are at 31 streets now. You are telling me that I can't do this. We have never defaulted on our salaries; we have honored our obligations with our sanitation contractors."

But is the council really honouring its obligations with sanitation contractors? After our interview aired, reports of mounting arrears flooded in to our newsroom.

And we have confirmed those reports: City Hall owes Belize Waste Control for ten weeks of garbage pick-ups and it owes Belize Maintenance Limited for ten weeks of city cleaning.

And this isn't just pocket change: Belize Waste Control's bill is fifty one thousand dollars a week - so 10 weeks is a cool half a million dollars!

And BML is about eight thousand dollars a week, so the arrears to them is eight hundred thousand dollars. Put them together - and just to those two companies alone - City Hall has standing arrears of 1.3 million dollars - and counting! Both companies have been promised a payment for services this week - but they aren't counting their chickens before they hatch.

The situation was even more acute up until the end of last month - when City Hall owed each company for twelve weeks of services. But, the council arranged bridge financing with the Heritage Bank - with which it reduced the debts form 12 weeks to 10.

For context we should not that arrears for those services have been chronic at this time of year - as the city waits for revenues from Trade Licenses which is due at years' end.

Channel 7

#451609 - 11/21/12 02:52 PM Re: City Hall floats mini ‘Superbond’ [Re: Marty]
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Municipal Bond to be launched on Thursday

The birth of a twenty million dollar municipal bond for Belize City was announced earlier this year in June. While the funds generated would have been used for several infrastructural projects around the City, floating the bond became a time consuming challenge for the City Council. The council faced mounting garbage collection debts while simultaneously trying to repair some of the worst streets in the City. The mayor now says that the bond will be introduced to investors on Thursday.

Darrell Bradley, Mayor, Belize City

“We are working closely with our external auditors; we’ve been talking with them—I had two conversations with them this morning and the only remaining thing is for them to sign off on our projections. Of course, we have the final draft of our prospectus. We’ve submitted the prospectus to them. It’s been with them since last week. They are going over the books; they’ve been working hard for us over this weekend and they came back with questions. We responded to the questions. Our internal team is working very, very closely with them and we anticipate that we will be able to launch our prospectus on Thursday of this week. And what we are going to do with the launch is that we are going to have a press conference and we will simply release it and the bond will be open for persons to review in terms of the information contained in the prospectus and persons will have thirty days to make an offer for purchase to the City Council. The bonds will be on sale at the Central Bank of Belize. We’re planning on doing it on the last leg of Freetown Road that is going to be completed. So we actually want to have a visual impact on what people will be getting if they invest in the bond and the contractor on Freetown Road, they are at Cinderella Plaza right now. That section is still not opened. It is going to be opened on Thursday and we want to open it along with the launch of the prospectus.”

Channel 5

#451751 - 11/23/12 03:07 PM Re: City Hall floats mini ‘Superbond’ [Re: Marty]
Marty Online   happy

Municipal Bond Prospectus Launched; Will It Fly?

The prospectus for the 20 million dollar municipal bond was finally launched today, after months of delays.

It's been a long time coming - but the Mayor says the prospectus is distilled to a fine essence - balancing the city's sustainability against the council's grand infrastructural ambitions.

Jules Vasquez got a first taste today:

Jules Vasquez Reporting

Today there was a rare sighting of most of the city councilors - and they sat in thrall for the Darrell Bradley show:

Darrell Bradley - Mayor, Belize City Council
"The Municipal Development Bond, as it is called, is a first of its kind in Belize. It's actually the first municipal bond that has been done by any municipality in the Caribbean region." Everything you need to know about the municipal development bond is contained in this 22 page document - the much discussed and much delayed prospectus.

For regular city residents - the most interesting part would probably be this page - listing the 67 streets that the city intends to pave with the bond money.

It's already spent almost 4 million dollars paving or partly paving these 33 streets in the city.

And while the bond will gave a major infrastructure boost, the Mayor says all these streets are only a means to an end:

Darrell Bradley
"We are not building streets. This infrastructure project fits into a larger vision that calls for the economic development of our city, so that it's not a street building project. It is one element of a larger strategy. Within 3 years, we want to see Belize City as being the commercial capital, that Belize City really regains its glory, and it regains its prominence as being that gateway for the country of Belize."

A large vision - but the fine print is what counts in this document - and the question is - is the city over-extending itself:

Darrell Bradley
"The City Council, by law, has assigned the most reliable sources of its revenue, which is the subvention that we receive from the Central Government and the cruise ship head tax. And those monies will be paid directly from the Ministry of Finance, into the Central Bank of Belize to capitalize the syncing fund. And that will then manage the repayment to bondholders."

And with its most reliable sources of income gone, that takes away a full 15% of the revenue pie:

Darrell Bradley
"The City Council is a 17 million dollar organization. Every single year, the City Council takes in 17 million dollars in revenues, and the loss of revenues in terms of the combined head tax and the subvention, that only amounts to roughly 15% of our total revenues. That's only 2.5 million dollars out of 17 million which we take in every single year."

So will the council be able to manage its affairs without that revenue? Well, that's where you come in - you'll be paying more tax:

Darrell Bradley
"The main thing that we want to do is the residential garbage fee, and what we're talking about here is a 10-dollar fee that we're going to charge per household per month, and this will assist us in making up the revenue. We also have to do increases in - and moderate increases - in property taxes."

And if paying more tax still leaves you with a craving for concrete streets, well then you can buy into the bond, too:

Darrell Bradley
"We have a 2-year issue, which is 3.5%, a 5-year issue, which is 5.5% percent, and a 10-year issue which is 8%. This is an opportunity for persons to become more involved in taking back our city, in reclaiming what is our right, and really lifting up and Belize City into that place that we love to live in. This is a good investment. When you go to the banks, they're giving you 1 and 2%. If you stay with us for 10 years, we're giving you 8%, and your money will be in the Central Bank of Belize."

So, it's not a bad business move - but the success of the bond will pivot ultimately on how many institutional investors it can attract with that pitch...

The minimum subscription is a single two hundred dollar block.

Interest will be paid every six months.

The offer will be open for 28 days from the 26th of November - meaning that the offer closes on Christmas Eve.

You can see the prospectus starting tomorrow on the City Council website. Subscription forms are available at the Central Bank.

Channel 7

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