Carmel taxpayers should be elated that the City Council is finally taking action to curb the debt machine established by the Carmel Redevelopment Commission. What took so long? I can provide some insight. During my tenure I was the only councilman who supported reigning in the CRC and was very frustrated because no other councilman supported the idea at the time. There were many reasons there was no support, but they all boiled down to politics. Even after Attorney General Zoeller’s ruling that redevelopment commissions could borrow large sums of money without the city council’s approval, there was no movement by colleagues. Maybe it was the idea that in government there is always tomorrow. I think it was still politics at play.
Frustrated as heck back in 2010, with some help I decided to write a letter to Senator Kenley recommending changes to the statues so that redevelopment commissions couldn’t continue to borrow themselves into oblivion. He drafted the bill and it passed 49-1. Unfortunately, the bill received no support from Speaker Bosma and it died in the House. I didn’t give up and worked with Senator Kenley again last year. Once again the bill died because Bosma did not support it. After three strikes at the Statehouse, the CRC continued to roll up the debt with only faulty revenue projections supporting its actions.
We stand today with $300 million of debt on the table, and the CRC unable to make the payments. Despite the Mayor’s promises, it looks like taxpayers will be responsible for paying this debt. At a recent City Council Finance Committee meeting, a special benefits tax was being discussed to make payments on the CRC debt even if the refinance package is approved. During that meeting it became public that due to loan agreements made by the CRC, a $20 million prepayment penalty will be incurred on certain debt being refinanced. Despite all of this, CRC members are saying they would do it all again. Still frustrated, but loving our City, I think it is time all the Carmel Redevelopment Commissioners resign or be replaced.