Commentary by Rick Sharp
It seems as regular as clockwork; whenever rational, factually based argument is in short supply in the world of politics they turn to rhetoric and spin. That time is apparently upon us now.
The new label being thrown about, probably to see if it will stick, is that the current Carmel City Council is anti-business. It has been tossed before the media by the mayor and his several “average” citizens. What is the source of this displeasure? The council’s recent decision to deny authorizing the mayor to seek an Industrial recovery tax credit for several properties owned by Pedcor, a major player in the redevelopment district in Carmel.
An examination of the facts in this case would be in order. The Industrial Recovery Tax Credit is intended to assist blighted industrial areas to recover purpose for abandoned industrial sites and re-establish jobs. I, among others, did not see the razing of the Woods Wire structure and replacing it with, well no one was quite clear on what they might do with the site. No one was clear on the use or whether or not they would require subsidy from the city to build. In fact, neither Pedcor nor the mayor were clear about anything. If the last nine years in Carmel government have taught me anything, I certainly have learned that without all the details, we are certain to have unpleasant surprises down the road. The bailout of $184 million in Carmel Redevelopment Commission debt is one sobering example. Now you will and have been told it was a simple refinance to take advantage of low rates. However, the numbers and the testimony at the time paint a starkly different picture. The CRC could have limped along continually extending their debt under ever more unfavorable terms, but it is clear they would have hit a wall, sooner rather than later and collapsed.
Now let us examine the business stance of this council. We have never turned away a legitimate economic opportunity. We have not rejected a single tax abatement proposal, whether real estate taxes or personal property, that was proposed to attract or retain an employer. We even agreed to a $2-million subsidy to Pedcor to advance the start of another phase of City Center, which we have named a high priority for completion. Think about it; it sits across the Monon from a public investment of close to $200 million. We have approved nearly every initiative championed by the Chamber of Commerce, the representatives of the business community.
This council is all about smart investment of Carmel taxpayer money for business growth in Carmel. However, we are not about to buy a pig in a poke. I invite the Pedcor organization to come back to the council anytime they would like, but bring the A game and show us just what and how and when you expect to develop, and then we can tell you what we think of your concrete proposal.
Anti-business, hardly, but anti reckless… you bet!