Last year, the Carmel City Council agreed to refinance nearly $200 million in debt for the financially struggling Carmel Redevelopment Commission. In exchange, the CRC agreed to additional city oversight. But more than two weeks after a reorganized CRC was supposed to become a department of the city, two city officials claim that hasn’t happened.
Clerk treasurer Diana Cordray said she had had no communication with anyone from the CRC. According to City spokeswoman Nancy Heck,
“The ordinance says I’m the treasurer of the CRC, but I haven’t spoken to anybody (on the CRC),” Cordray said. “I don’t have one document. We’re at an impasse … As far as I know, the CRC is still on Main Street. The employees were supposed to become city employees, but we (the city) aren’t paying them. They must be getting paid somehow.”
According to city spokeswoman Nancy Heck, Cordray simply needs to reach out to the CRC in order to obtain the documents.
“It’s frustrating to me,” Cordray continued. “The council needs to either fix or nullify the ordinance, because right now, we have no management of the CRC.”
Council president Rick Sharp agreed.
“At this point in time and by every appearance, it looks like the CRC is in violation of the ordinance,” Sharp said.
Heck places the blame at the council’s feet, saying it has yet to pass an amended salary ordinance adding the CRC employees to the city payroll.
According to Sharp, representatives of the clerk’s office arranged for the CRC’s storeroom of records to be transported to City Hall, but the records never arrived. Sharp said the order to not move the records came from the mayor himself. But Heck believes Sharp and Cordray have nothing to worry about.
“We have offices and records all over the city,” Heck said. “Not everything is kept at the same location.”
Heck said the CRC records were public documents that any citizen could review after filling out an information request form.
The CRC asked the city council to refinance $195 million in debt, which they’d borrowed at an interest rate of 6-percent to 9-percent. After much deliberation, the council agreed in late November to the bailout, but imposed several restrictions on the CRC, including not allowing them to borrow money without council approval.
The ordinance also folded the CRC into city government, as the Carmel Redevelopment Authority. CRC Director Les Olds, marketing manager Megan McVicker and four other CRC employees were slated to become employees of the city with their salaries to be paid by taxpayers. The CRC also agreed to cut its annual expenses by two-thirds, from $3 million to $1 million, but it’s now not known whether that will happen.
The new bonds sold in December at an interest rate between 2.65 and 4 percent, saving about $75 million, according to earlier information from Heck. The CRC retains about $100 million in debt.
Sharp and finance committee chair Luci Snyder had a meeting scheduled with Brainard last week, but Sharp was forced to cancel because of a work commitment. Another meeting is scheduled for this week.
Olds and CRC President Bill Hammer didn’t immediately respond to voice mails seeking comment.