To the editor:

I would like to clarify and respond to the comments made by the soon-to-be former mayor of Hillsboro and Mr. Dick Donley during Tuesday's city council meeting.

Mr. Justin Harsha mentioned that I had raised some questions and "he just got this a few days ago."

Mr. Donley stated that he spoke to me "personally, at least two weeks ago" and "told him (me) we were reaching out to do a bond through" their bond counsel Richard Spoor.

First, what I received a few days ago – Monday afternoon to be precise – was an agreement with a placing agent. This raised some concern, as placing agents aren't typically needed for the issuance of bonds that are not high risk. The services of a placing agent are procured to find someone willing to take on a high-risk bond. Clearly, that raises the question as to why city administrative officials are considering issuing a high-risk bond.

It is the duty of city officials to mitigate risk. Did the mayor or any of his representatives ask why a placing agent was necessary?

Were they knowledgeable enough to know to ask? They certainly didn't reach out to me to review this agreement – until after the fact.

Speaking of the placing agent, how did the city administration come into contact with them?

Was this a recommendation by the developers or their representatives? If so, who do you think whose best interests the placing agent would have in mind? The city's interests or the developer's interests?

What is the fee the placing agent will charge for his services? It wasn't in the agreement that I read.

How about the bond counsel in this situation? The administration didn't prepare an RFQ (request for quotation) seeking qualifications for bond counsel. They didn't ask me about a recommendation for bond counsel.

Based on Mr. Donley's comment, it appears that Mr. Spoor is bond counsel to the developer.

Who would the city prefer to have handle their financing affairs: the developer's bond counsel or the trusted advice of a bond counsel who has represented the city in such matters for well over 20 years?

I think the answer to that is pretty clear. If it isn't, heaven help us!

Did the administration realize that even though $3 million is a lot of money to us, it's a relatively small placement in the municipal bond world? As such, that size of bond may have been handled in house by our historically trusted bond counsel, thus saving the city thousands in interest payments over the life of the bond.

But they wouldn't know this, as none of them reached out to me for advice until after they made their decision on a bond counsel.

Getting to the mayor's comments, "but he's known about this TIF funding for months."

Tax increment financing (TIF) funding and bond issuance are two different things, each with their own set of complexities. But he wouldn't know that because frankly, in eight years as mayor, Hastings has never shown an inclination to understanding government financing.

However, he was at his most insulting when he stated "It's no concern or sweat off his back after another two or three weeks from now..."

Unlike the gentleman from Caleb Hill Road, I actually live in this community. Always have. And I care about it.

So, the concerns and sweat don't stop simply because I have relinquished my elected office. Further, I personally recruited the fine young man who is taking my place, and I won't forget him on Jan. 1swhen he takes office. In fact, I will be advising him and helping him as he "gets up to speed."

Will the soon-to-be former mayor do the same for mayor-elect Justin Harsha?

Now, you know some of the questions I have about this issue. Not one of them is outlandish nor are any deal breakers. Some could have been answered by the mayor had he not been so reluctant to share information with others outside his personal sphere of influence.

Mr. Harsha was asking for a month's time so those who will ultimately be responsible for this bond can be more comfortable with it. It is their signature that will be on it. Not mine, not Hastings'.

So, was that too much to ask?

Even Mr. Donley could not say it would be a deal breaker, and if asking for a little bit of time was a deal breaker, that should be a glaring sign that there may be a problem.

I think the public as a whole would agree with me. It's too bad that city council allowed themselves to be bullied one last time by this man.

Sincerely,
Gary L. Lewis
Auditor, City of Hillsboro