Paco DeFrancis | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

Paco DeFrancis 
Member since May 4, 2016

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Updated on January 6, 2017 at 11:59 AM


Recent Comments

Re: “Walters: A Grand Coalition on Water Quality?

These per-parcel fees are off the mark. Let's stand up to the agricultural special-interest group for once and repeal our Current Use program--an inefficient subsidy awarded to farmers largely responsible for the Phosphorous pollution crisis and props up farms that wouldn't be economically feasible in a free-market. Let's prevent the pollution rather than look for costly treatments. No one's saying we should fix global warming via geo-engineering, why are we trying to engineer a solution here?

The windfall the state Education Fund will see from a repeal (or realistically some type of reform) of current use will be dramatic and enough to likely end the GF --> Ed Fund transfer. That GF savings can be used for other water quality improvements. We must act now.

I know, I know, Vermonters (both D and R constituencies) love the "pastoral views"; we love hiking Mt Philo and seeing the 'working landscape' of the Champlain Valley so heaven for bid we touch Current Use. But at what environmental cost will society have to bear so we can have that view on top Mt Philo?

7 likes, 8 dislikes
Posted by Paco DeFrancis on 01/19/2018 at 2:16 PM

Re: “Drink Up: A Smoky Cocktail at Burlington's Drink

This bar has gone down hill ever since new ownership came in and did away with the daily $4 Heady Topper and Focal Banger specials.

8 likes, 3 dislikes
Posted by Paco DeFrancis on 01/19/2018 at 1:58 PM

Re: “Mall Developer to Buy Macy's Building in Downtown Burlington

This is great news. Congratulations and a big THANK YOU to Don Sinex from the people of Burlington!

Though this parcel is in the new DMUC overlay we should nonetheless be a bit more bearish on the expectation of large-scale redevelopment and new 14 story apartment towers. Many more headwinds exist today than when Sinex started the mall project three and a half years ago.

1. Interest Rates- The Fed will begin liquidating securities it has accumulated over Bernanke-era quantitative easing (QE) programs. Additionally, the Board of Governors projects at least two more rate hikes to the Fed Funds Rate in 2018. These factors will put continued upwards pressure on interest rates. No one benefits more from low interest rates (and harmed by high interest rates) than private real estate developers like Devonwood and Rouse, who unlike publicly-traded REITs (who largely raise funds in equity markets), rely on credit markets to fund their ventures. These credit markets will become MUCH more expensive than 3-4 years ago.

2. GOP Tax Bill/LIHTC- The GOP bill didn't affect low income housing tax credits (LIHTC), a tax credit housing developers can sell to banks when they create low-income housing. However, the tax bill did slash the corporate income tax rate to 21% which significantly erodes the value of the tax credits. Selling LIHTC credits can help cover the costs of Inclusionary Zoning; now IZ may become an even costlier mandate.

3. Increases to statewide education fund property tax rates (anticipated at 7%+ for non-residential in FY19) and slight softening in commercial real estate market are not incentivizing any investment.

I hope I am wrong, of course....

Paco DeFrancis

7 likes, 13 dislikes
Posted by Paco DeFrancis on 01/10/2018 at 9:34 AM

Re: “Walters: Scott Address Long on Ideas, Short on Specifics

Great job Phil Scott!! Go Phil and keep a tight lid on K-12 expenditure!

Paco DeFrancis

15 likes, 8 dislikes
Posted by Paco DeFrancis on 01/05/2018 at 11:20 AM

Re: “Media Note: New WPTZ Television Studio Proposed in Williston

Terrible place for another auto-centric employment site. Congestion on Kimball/Marshall Ave is terrible from people cutting through SB to get to Williston or Tafts Corners.

The state should only provide an Act 250 permit on condition WPTZ or the developer put in left-hand turning lanes at the Brownell/Marshall Ave light. The intersection can back up for a half mile because it just takes one guy attempting a left-hand turn onto Brownell Rd from Marshall Ave. Must add an additional turning lane or a complete ban on left-hand turns altogether.

1 like, 2 dislikes
Posted by Paco DeFrancis on 01/05/2018 at 11:16 AM

Re: “Keep BT Local, Ting Picked as Finalists to Buy Burlington Telecom

As a taxpayer and current BT customer I was very disheartened that six councilors voted for the Keep BT Local bid last night, thereby eliminating Shurz--a stable, family owned telecom and media conglomerate around since the 1800's--from the selection process. As a telecom consumer I value the great service and choice created by competition between healthy firms. What makes firms healthy is strong cash flow and robust working capital.

KBTL is by far the weakest bid and should never have been included as a finalist by BTAB's selection process. The junk credit at 14% interest fueling this highly leveraged proposal is indicative of considerable risk lenders have placed on a KBTL operation. With insufficient working capital available KBTL will start hemorrhaging cash under the crushing weight of their liabilities. Ensuring BT can provide sustainable service for their customers is as important to me as protecting taxpayers from the near-term risks of litigation (brought out by either Blue Water and/or Citi) and fiscal pressures that are likely with a lower bid. In the wake of financial mismanagement of BT under the Kiss admin these risks should not be taken lightly.

I have heard the arguments by KBTL; that is BT's current EBITDA is sufficient to service $12m in debt at 14% interest. However, the assumptions used in such an optimistic foward-looking analysis make even Elon Musk look bearish!!!

Paco DeFrancis

44 likes, 18 dislikes
Posted by Paco DeFrancis on 10/17/2017 at 12:07 PM

Re: “No New Moran: Burlington Ends Old Plant Redevelopment Talks

The Moran plans is subject to the Vermont Public Trust Doctrine. That doctrine has shown to be a boon in some ways (it killed Mayor Sanders' "Alden Plan" resulting in the present beloved Waterfront Park) but can certainly make an already expensive project like this very difficult to finance.

The doctrine allows for public uses only (like a community sailing center, museum, boat launch, etc). In response to Kenatwood52, neither subsidized low-income nor "high rise" market rate housing are an option.

I applaud Mayor Weinberger for taking decisive action and acknowledging that a privately-funded redevelopment and remediation project is a pipe dream that will never come to fruition.

46 likes, 5 dislikes
Posted by Paco DeFrancis on 09/01/2017 at 4:03 PM

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