MuniLand

It’s hot down in Alabama

It’s hot down in Alabama

It sounds like we have a deal in Jefferson County, Alabama. This has been a long festering problem where the county is unable to afford the debt payments on $3 billion of bonds for a sewer system built several years ago. Excellent local reporting by KDAF-TV and Birmingham News. It sounds as if Jefferson County wants creditors to reduce the debt owed by $1.3 billion.

Meanwhile the SEC has announced a July 29 field hearing in Alabama on the “State of the Municipal Securities Market”. Reuters reports here.

Detroit: Bike City?

Detroit Bike City from Alex Gallegos. Detroit feels like a ghost town with pockets of life centered around bikes and bike-riding.

Governors want some federal unity

The nation’s governors met this past weekend, and they want the U.S. Congress to come to a debt deal with President Obama.  Reuters and Bloomberg report the story.

The New York Times nails the elephant in the room with this headline: “One Thing Certain in Debt Debate: More Cuts for States”. As the federal government gets its budget under control there will be less flowing through to the states. Buckle up, everyone.

Greening the city

Greening the city

Many cities took a big step forward for clean air when they adopted buses fueled by natural gas. But there are other important projects that will make getting around easier, quieter and less polluting. New York City is getting ready to take a big step. From American City:

New York City has the potential to take those [bike sharing] concepts and scale them up to a size unseen on this side of the Atlantic. Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a man the transportation community has a complicated relationship with, has been dangling a transformative bike sharing program in front of alternative transportation advocates since 2009 when New York’s city planners issued an “exhaustive proposal” that included a 10,000 strong fleet of safety-equipped, GPS-ready bikes.

Economically, the deal is a victory for innovative financing because it fully absorbs the burden of maintenance, damage, and —as this is a city— theft, vandalism, and “artistic destruction.” New Yorkers would buy their memberships on weekly, monthly, or yearly bases and get an unlimited number of free rides that take less than 30 minutes; ride a little longer, pay a little more. New York has decided that an initial burst of capital will serve their purposes the best not least because of their uniqueness among American cities in terms of density and population.

Muni sweeps: Hot times in Sacramento

California needs to extend tax increases to balance budget

These are hot times in Sacramento.  California’s constitution requires the legislature to send a budget to the governor by June 15.  Time is running out to patch up an agreement, and there is a new incentive for lawmakers to get it done. From Bloomberg:

There are differences this year. In November, voters lowered the threshold to pass a budget to a simple majority from two-thirds. The same measure also stripped lawmakers of salary and per-diem pay for every day they’re late with the spending plan.

Brown has been meeting behind closed doors since March with Republican lawmakers to craft a compromise. The governor’s tax extension, a so-called bridge tax, is the major sticking point, said his spokesman, Gil Duran.

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