4CDC releases two years of finances
By Adam Aasen
Recently in Carmel, the hot topic has been transparency for the local community development organization with strong ties to city government.
After calls for transparency at recent city council meetings, this nonprofit has decided to release its financial records for the past two years to the public.
The Carmel City Center Community Development Corporation, commonly referred to as the 4CDC, has come under fire from a local branch of the Tea Party that feels the 4CDC should have to legally open its records because it has received grants – which means taxpayer money – from the Carmel Redevelopment Corporation, a government entity that manages business taxes in the form of TIF revenue.
Mayor Jim Brainard is a strong advocate for the 4CDC and believes the attacks against the group are election-time shots against his administration. One of his closest allies, City Councilor Ron Carter, serves as the president of the 4CDC board.
Brainard has repeatedly disagreed with the assertion that the 4CDC “receives grants.” But 4CDC tax returns show a $85,000 non-cash grant from the CRC in 2010 and a $6 million grant from the CRC in 2011. Brainard said he doesn’t consider these grants since they are “non-cash” and deal with property.
Brainard and Carter have said they interpret the open records ordinances as only applying to meetings, which are open to the public.
The Constitutional Patriots, a local Tea Party group, has repeatedly asked for the documents because they suspect what has been called “laundering” of funds. A report from Frost Brown Todd said that the CRC has transferred funds to the 4CDC and then back to the CRC as a way to spend money that would usually be restricted in its use.
Brainard spoke at the recent City Council meeting, denouncing the use of the term “laundering.” He said he was misquoted in a recent Indianapolis Star article that leant credence to that theory. The Indianapolis Star has since issued a correction and admitted that Brainard didn’t use the word “cleanse.”
Brainard said groups have also made public records requests for documents that don’t exist. He said he’s under no obligation to “create documents” to satisfy their curiosities.
Carter said he wanted to put this issue to rest so he released several documents, including:
• A response to the State Board of Accounts 2012 audit report that states that the CRC is, “granting TIF revenues to the 4CDC … for uses that can’t be verified.”
• A disclosure of the proportion of 4CDC funds that are “public fund,” which means they come from CRC grants or revenues “derived from public facilities.”
• An accounting of 4CDC funding and expenditures.
• Documentation for all receipts and revenues related to parking and grant agreements.