Curiouser and Curiouser

A “routine” item #A-23 hit the November 4 2010 DRAFT(read) BOCC Consent (no-discussion) Agenda for November 4, 2010 for the authority for the Housing Finance Authority of Hillsborough County to issue $250,000,000 Single Family mortgage Revenue Bonds.

Curious –
Two hundred-fifty MILLION dollars does seem a large amount to be approved, even by the sitting  BOCC, without some discussion.
But no discussion?

Curiouser –
This item did not make it onto the Nov. 4, 3010 FINAL (read) Agenda.

Curiouser and curiouser –
A look-see at the DRAFT A-23 Agenda Item Cover Sheet (read) shows a November 04, 2010 Meeting Date with the Subject: Approval Issuance of Single Family Mortgage Loans through the Issuance of its Single Family Mortgage Revenue Bonds.

Electronic Sign-Off Approvals dated 10/20/2010 included:

Renee Francis Lee, as County Attorney
Mary Helen Farris, as both Managing County Attorney & as Assistant County Attorney
Eric Johnson, for Management and Budget.

On the second page, the Cover Sheet states that:

“A public hearing was properly held on November 4, 2010, at 10:00 a.m. in the County Attorney’s Office, on the 28th Floor in the Hillsborough County Center, 601 E. Kennedy Boulevard, Tampa Florida; no one attended the hearing.”

The un-dated DRAFT A-23 Agenda Item  Back-up (read) documents, Section 2 (A) says:

“The Authority conducted a public hearing inviting comments and discussion concerning the Plan of Financing on November 4, 2010, notice of which hearing was published on October 20, 2010, in The Tampa Tribune, a newspaper of general circulation in Hillsborough County, Florida.”

To the Back-up is attached a Tampa Tribune Order Confirmation that the newspaper notice was published starting 10/20/10 for the November 4, 2010 Housing Finance Authority public hearing in the County Attorney’s office at 10:00 a.m.

Not curious is the possibility that a “scrivener’s error” could have crept in on the documents, but it would seem highly curious that everyone agreed in October, two weeks prior to the scheduled hearing date, that “no one attended the [November 4, 2010] hearing”.

Some questions occur:

Why the discrepancy in the dates and meeting attendance on the Cover Sheet and Back-up documents?

Why was the item on the DRAFT Agenda but not on the FINAL agenda?

Who or what is the Housing Finance Authority (HFA) of Hillsborough County?

According the HFA website  it was created by the Board of County Commissioners of Hillsborough County, Florida on October 9, 1985  for the purpose of addressing a housing shortage in the County by stimulating the construction and rehabilitation of housing through the use of public financing.

Does the HFA really need to issue $250,000,000 in bonds to address the “housing shortage” in 2010?

Should Hillsborough County be “providing funds for the purchase of qualifying mortgage loans originated by participating lending institutions…”? 

 “In a homeownership bond transaction, the HFA purchases mortgages from banks and mortgage companies that have been made to income eligible first time homebuyers who have purchased a home within an established sales price limit.”

Who are the “participating lending institutions”?

The HFA website lists five “participating investment banking firms acting as senior managing underwriters and remarketing agents for the issuance of the Authority’s multifamily revenue bonds.”
None of the five are located within Hillsborough County.

Should Hillsborough County be in the business of being the middle-man in real estate transactions between banks and investors?

“The HFA sells its bonds to investors who expect to be paid back. The HFA ensures that bondholders will be repaid by securing credit enhancement on the bonds, or by selling the bonds to sophisticated investors who have made their own credit risk analysis.”

Question: Since these bonds are sold as “tax-exempt”, how much lost tax revenue might there be?

The $250,000,000 in this Agenda Item would earn investors about $7.5 MILLION a year at the current 3.99% rate now offered by HFA and the banks for these mortgages. Depending on what taxing entity might have control, likely the Federal Government,tax revenues would be lost on $7.5 million of income . The State of Florida may also have business taxes that would be exempt.

What is the cost to Hillsborough County in staff time, fees, interest or otherwise for handling $250,000,000 in transactions?

If, as in this case, $250,000,000 is flowing through Hillsborough County, are any percentage or transaction fees levied to benefit county taxpayers?

Not saying anything; just asking questions.

The DRAFT Agenda Item includes: “Additionally, authorize the Chairman to execute any future related documents.”

Perhaps the sitting Chairman of the Board of County Commissioners on whose watch this is now occuring could supply some answers.

 <IMHO> Fred Jacobsen


2 Responses to “Curiouser and Curiouser”

  1. […] Verbum Sapienti * A word to the wise * « Curiouser and Curiouser […]

  2. Great questions…$250 million provides a lot of answers

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