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MuniNetGuide.com Honors Albuquerque Website for Investor Relations Excellence

MuniNetGuide Article

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Albuquerque's municipal website has received an award for Excellence in Municipal Investor Relations—making it one of only four sites nationally to gain the distinction for providing easy access to quality investor information.

MuniNetGuide.com, an independent online resource specializing in municipal matters, and the College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs (CUPPA) at the University of Illinois at Chicago honored the city after completing a survey of the nation's 75 largest cities.

Albuquerque Recognized

The survey found fewer than 30 percent of the cities reviewed provide online content specifically aimed at municipal bond investors. Albuquerque's site was among the notable exceptions, as were the other cities recognized for their excellence: Jacksonville, Fla.; Portland, Ore.; and San Diego, Calif.

"These cities have demonstrated courage in taking on the challenge to communicate about issues of importance to people in the position to assess their creditworthiness and financial condition in a direct, up-front manner," MuniNetGuide.com editor Mardee Alvaro wrote in a report posted March 15 on the website. "Their websites incorporate an obvious mission to help bondholders make informed and educated decisions."

"This is not a one-time 'project' but rather part of an ongoing effort by MuniNet to promote ongoing municipal financial disclosure and openness in government reporting, which benefits taxpayers and investors alike," Alvaro said.

Honorable Mention in 2003

Back in 2003, MuniNet gave Albuquerque's website, http://www.cabq.gov/investor/, an honorable mention for providing investor information. Today, Albuquerque's Investor Information portal still stands out as one of the most comprehensive city investor relations websites.

"In addition to annual reports (financial reports, CAFRs, and investment), Albuquerque provides access to CUSIP numbers for all outstanding bond issues, making it easy to find information pertaining to these bonds on other websites, such as EMMA," Alvaro said. "It also publishes current bond ratings, links to official statements for bonds issued over the past ten years, and annual financial statements."

The City's Interactive Revenue Data feature, which allows users to view and manipulate the City's revenue statistics (like gross tax receipts, for example) is particularly impressive, she said.

"Albuquerque doesn't rest at providing an expansive array of information," Alvaro said. "The data and reports posted on this website are maintained on a very timely basis, offering investors the opportunity to access current information pertaining to the City's debt and financial condition."

Other Cities Honored

In addition to the four cities chosen for Excellence in Municipal Investor Relations, eight other cities among the top 75 in population nationally gained honorable mention for the online financial information they provide: San Francisco, New York, Chicago, Miami, Nashville, Philadelphia, Los Angeles and Oakland.

In addition, Akron, Ohio, gained special mention, though its status as roughly the nation's 100th-largest city places it outside the top 75 cities by population that were the survey's focus.

Along with CUPPA, MuniNet undertook the survey amid increased concerns, cutting across all industries, about transparency in financial matters. In the municipal sector, said Alvaro, "many municipal issuers have taken a proactive approach to providing up-to-date financial information and, as a result, have established a higher level of accountability and, in turn, a greater level of trust among their investors."

Recognition Criteria

The best sites were strong in a variety of respects, including having the following content or characteristics: current and archived financial information, primary market disclosure, secondary market disclosure, bond ratings, a calendar of upcoming bond sales, an investor focus, timeliness and integrity.

While making it easy for visitors to find information is crucial, that positive is undermined if the content is not updated regularly, Alvaro noted.

"Simply setting it up and leaving a stale set of data doesn't cut it," Alvaro said. "The fresher the information, the more value the site provides."

MuniNet has begun adding links to city profile pages that take online visitors directly to city's investor information pages, where available. While starting with the nation's largest cities, over time MuniNetGuide.com intends to offer this information for cities of all sizes.

Yonghong Wu, Assistant Professor of Public Administration, College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs (CUPPA) at the University of Illinois at Chicago, was the primary collaborator with Alvaro on the project.

A review of each of the selected cities is included in a summary authored by Alvaro on the MuniNetGuide site, "Select Cities Lead the Pack in Providing Investor Relations Content."

About MuniNetGuide.com

Founded by publisher Richard Ciccarone, MuniNetGuide.com's roots go back to 1996, with the launch of its print newsletter, MuniNet Guide & Review.

MuniNetGuide.com is an independent online resource specializing in municipal matters, including state and local government, public finance, and municipal bonds. The site provides timely news, articles and data with a focus on a variety of topic areas pertaining to the public sector: demographics, education, employment, housing and real estate, healthcare, transportation, and economic trends.

The site is most frequently visited by three groups: government leaders and other professionals who work in or with state, county local governments/agencies; the municipal investment community; and the general public, particularly individuals seeking local information pertaining to jobs, schools, real estate, demographics, and economies.

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