Commentary by Bill Hammer, CRC President
I am not one who enjoys the constant tit-for-tat that one sees on Twitter or some online message boards. But in this era of misinformation and politics, I feel compelled to respond to Bob Wallace, who replied to my column in the Current in Carmel with a letter to the editor published in the March 31st edition. Unfortunately his letter is full of information that is incorrect or distorted that I am compelled to correct the record. It is troubling when doubt is cast without supporting facts on the Economic Development of our City. The City of Carmel and the Carmel Redevelopment Commission have worked hard for more than a decade to create a world-class city; Carmel has been recognized as one of the best in the country.
MISLEADING: Mr. Wallace said – in 2014 “…Their [CRC’s] own report CLEARLY states TIF expenses EXCEEDED TIF revenues by $5 million…”
TRUTH: This is a misinterpretation that expenses exceed revenues caused by mixing two years together. In 2014 TIF revenues exceeded TIF debt service by $2.697 million (revenue = $20.136 with debt service = $17.439 million). An additional $5.11 million in debt service was paid in 2014 for debt service attributed to 2013(though actually due in mid- January 2014) with 2013 TIF revenue. There was no shortfall in 2014.
INCORRECT: Mr. Wallace said – For 2015, TIF debt service will exceed TIF revenues by $80,000.
TRUTH: Once again, Mr. Wallace misread the 2015 budget document. CRC projections for 2015 show that estimated TIF revenues of $19.958 million will exceed TIF debt service of $18.112 million by $1.928 million. The CRC will also deposit $1.928 million from the Parkwood TIF into reserves, and estimates that there will be $5.754 million in total reserves by the end of 2015.
MISLEADING: Mr. Wallace said that – “…State law says that these two types of funds [TIF and non-TIF] are not to be mixed…”
TRUTH: Mr. Wallace has made too broad an interpretation to one provision of the State law. While TIF funds cannot be used for operating costs under State law, TIF funds and non-TIF funds can both be used for debt service.
INCORRECT: Mr. Wallace said that – the CRC will have $1 billion in total debt.
TRUTH: The CRC has debt of about $290.386 million. New businesses are paying for the TIF debt, and the burden does not fall on residential taxpayers. The $1 billion number is an exaggeration. If you include all debt, the actual amount borrowed for improvements to our city is $550 million. The City’s debt is manageable and was included in Standard & Poor’s analysis of the city when it raised Carmel to an AA+ credit rating.
INCORRECT: Mr. Wallace said – “… CRC debt ends up taking taxes from schools…”
TRUTH: Mr. Wallace is incorrect because the State school funding formula takes that into account the TIF dollars, and replaces those revenues for the schools.
It is unfortunate when half-truths are launched into the public debate without regard to the consequences. Such misinformation can have a detrimental effect on the City of Carmel as those who may want to locate here can get a false impression from these misstatements. The Carmel Redevelopment Commission has worked hard with the City to help create a well-managed, forward thinking community with a quality lifestyle for its citizens; one that does not deserve to be misrepresented.
Thank you for letting me clarify these points.