By Pete Smith
The board of the Carmel City Center Community Development Organization has decided that it would be a waste of money to provide the documentation necessary to respond to a call for more transparent accounting.
Carmel Clerk-Treasurer Diana Cordray had requested in a Nov. 20 letter that the 4CDC disclose information about the public funds it managed during 2012 and 2013.
Commonly referred to as the 4CDC, it’s a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization which collects rent from commercial tenants in the James Building at the Center for the Performing Arts and is part of complex financing mechanisms involving the Carmel Redevelopment Commission, city councilor Luci Snyder has said.
The 4CDC took the matter seriously, and it even had a draft response prepared for its monthly meeting on Feb. 11. But 4CDC board vice president Jack Ragland requested a delay on issuing the letter until he could have a chance to read through it. So a special meeting was called a week later to discuss the matter.
During the special meeting on Feb. 17, board president and city council member Ron Carter said he no longer wished to respond to the Clerk-Treasurer because it would take massive amounts of time for 4CDC legal counsel Kroger, Gardis and Regas to respond, it would subject the 4CDC to the cost of the legal fees and because the Clerk-Treasurer had been involved in previous inquiries which racked up large legal fees for the 4CDC and found no instances of wrong-doing.
“I am not going to provide fodder for that to happen again,” Carter said, noting that he didn’t want to drain accounts that should be used for redevelopment.
“As much as I would like to see us respond, I don’t want to expend excessive funds to do so,” 4CDC board secretary John Clair said.
The legal costs are not insignificant. The organization recently paid $15,538 to Kroger, Gardis and Regas for negotiating contracts and getting up to speed on 4CDC activities during its first three months as counsel.
“To have legal counsel go through 12 years of deals … is not something I’m prepared to do because of the cost,” Carter said.
Citing the State Board of Accounts’ 2012 audit of the CRC and the fact that the city council appointed her as treasurer of the CRC effective January 2013, Cordray requested that the 4CDC:
● disclose the proportion of 4CDC revenues that are public and private.
● disclose revenues that resulted from CRC grants.
● release a full accounting of all receipts and expenses for all public funds in 2012 and 2013.
● release a complete accounting of public funds that were comingled with private funds.
● identify appropriate documentation of the expenditures of public/TIF/CRC funds.
● provide documentation of all revenues and receipts pertaining to the Parking Grant Agreement with the Center for Performing Arts for 2012 that the audit noted resulted in $29,464.38 in uncollected money.