By Adam Aasen
A fight has been brewing over whether the Carmel Redevelopment Commissions needs to have its budget approved by the Carmel City Council.
Some councilors have argued that new state law requires council “oversight” of redevelopment commissions, but Mayor Jim Brainard argues that “oversight” doesn’t mean “approval.”
Brainard is backed up State Sen. Luke Kenley, who wrote the law and removed the word “approval” to replace it with “review” when writing the bill.
But now the Department of Local Government Finance is interpreting the law differently.
DLGF General Counsel Michael Duffy sent an e-mail to Carmel legislators to give his organization’s opinion on the law.
In his legalese, Duffy said that tax increment finance dollars – which make up the majority of the CRC’s budget – would be subject to review of the council, but not approval.
“However, since statute only allows for a review, this would not necessarily result in an official budget adoption,” he said.
When it comes to operating expenses – such as staff salaries, benefits, supplies – Duffy claims these CRC budget items would be, “appropriated annually in the budget of the governmental unit.”
“Operating expenses of a redevelopment commission or department that are not included with the annual budget require appropriation since they are ‘subject to the same laws, rules, and ordinances of a general nature that apply to all other commissions or departments of the unit,’” Duffy said, quoting the state law.
According to their Web site, the DLGF is, “responsible for ensuring property tax assessment and local government budgeting are carried out in accordance with Indiana law.” Towns and cities submit their budgets to the department and if things are done improperly it’s possible the DLGF can force the municipality to revert to last year’s budget, which likely means a reduction in funds.