By Nina Johnson
More than 100 Carmel citizens attended the Nov. 19 City Council meeting during which the long-awaited refinance of $195 million in debt obligations of the former Carmel Redevelopment Commission was approved.
The 7-0 vote finalized months of deliberation by the council’s finance committee, the council’s advisory team, and the former CRC’s advisory team.
“Many (citizens) left that meeting with their eyes open,” said council president Rick Sharp. “They walked away with a clear understanding of what we really have been doing.”
Before the vote, Sharp invited the public to address the council. Several citizens expressed concerns over the length and cost of the decision process. Council and finance committee chair Luci Snyder explained, “This was given to us in August. It is the largest debt that the city of Carmel has ever contemplated. I think it bore some looking into.”
The risk and finance committee studied 21 different debt instruments during several meetings with professional consultants. Snyder calculated that the council’s advisory costs, “Are about one one-thousandth of 1 percent of the amount that is about to be borrowed.” Sharp emphasized that working with the professional staff accomplished a schedule that avoids levying a special benefits tax.
“If you are looking to refinance $195 million, if you don’t do your research,” Snyder said, “I think you’re negligent. It is important to us to do the best thing for the city.”
Sharp agreed, saying, “We would have been deservedly thrown out of office if we dared to take a vote to refinance nearly $200 million worth of debt without understanding those complexities and ramifications. And that took time.”
“This is a good decision by the City Council,” Mayor Brainard said. “It allows for our redevelopment to continue. The citizens of Carmel have made it abundantly clear they like our redevelopment efforts. The Redevelopment Commissioners have done an excellent job managing some very large projects through a deep recession and should be complimented for their efforts.”
“If we get annualized growth above 2 percent then we’re in great shape and we should never have to levy the special benefits tax,” said Sharp.