Jacob Cintron, the CEO of UMC, appeared on ABC-7 XTRA this past Sunday and the video is now online.
Host Stephanie Valle twice asked Cintron why the proposed $346 million debt issuance to expand the hospital should take the form of a certificate of obligation, which requires no voter approval, rather than a general obligation bond that would appear on the ballot.
Cintron replied that a general obligation bond would cost $75-100 dollars more than a CO because it would take longer to borrow and thus result in a higher interest rate, because interest rates are rising. (see the 5:20 mark)
This is a man who is paid $659,434 in total yearly compensation to manage UMC and who is supposed to be an experienced fiscal manager, and he expects us to believe that taxpayers will be on the hook for up to 28.9% extra if we don’t allow UMC to issue $364M in new debt without voter approval? Really??
This is the same man who put the CO on the County Commissioners Court agenda for last Thursday’s meeting for discussion and action without attaching any backup indicating the dollar figure.
Did he think that the $346M would slip under the radar without any scrutiny?
Does he now expect us to trust him?
As we know, someone recorded last week’s meeting of the UMC Board of Managers where the figure of $400 million was approved unanimously, but when KVIA and other media began making inquiries, the backup magically appeared on the County agenda, less than 24 hours before Thursday’s meeting, with an ask of only $346 million.
You see, the taxpayers already got a $54 million discount simply because the media began asking questions!
If the debt is issued as a GO bond rather than a CO, the Commissioners Court, public and media will certainly examine the $346M figure more closely. Maybe the dollar amount will drop even lower and still cover all the critically important needs of UMC.
And one more thing. We don’t want to hear that there is not enough time to place a GO bond on the ballot for November. UMC should have thought of that earlier and planned accordingly. They don’t get to tell us that we must accept a giant new debt issuance without our approval because there is no time to put it to a vote.
Again, it is immoral to issue debt of this magnitude without voter approval and COs were never intended for this purpose, contrary to Mr. Cintron’s comments to Ms. Valle.
I hope that Commissioner Holguin can convince her colleagues on the Commissioners court to do the right thing when this comes up for a vote in a couple weeks.