Thursday, December 23, 2010

Questions Mount Regarding City's Purchase of Garage

The City's purchase last February, of a garage at 101 N. New Jersey Street, has suddenly engendered a growing mountain of questions. At their core, the aim of these questions is to illuminate the legal authority under which the City made that purchase.

The garage is part of a complex deal proposed and approved by the MDC over a year ago (see "Dramatic Week for 450 E. Market Street (Bad) Deal"). The resolution, number 09-R-006, passed by the MDC included the following section:
The Commission's authorization of the purchase of the Parking Garage is conditioned upon the negotiation and execution of a Project Agreement between DMD and Market Square Garage/Ops Partners, LLC, substantially incorporating the terms and conditions set forth in the attached Term Sheet.
I requested a copy of the Project Agreement and a copy of documentation of available financing that should have been supplied by the developer, Market Square Garage/Ops Partners, LLC, within 3 months of the crafting of the Project Agreement, and prior to the purchase of the garage by the City. The response was "Bond Bank Manger Deron Kintner says the project Agreement has not been finalized. Evidence of financing has not been obtained to my knowledge yet; that would be one of our closing items."

The project agreement was never inked down, therefore the authority to purchase the property could not have come from this MDC Resolution.

I asked then, how does the City justify the purchased the garage. That was two days ago, and I have not received an answer to the question. This is an important question, because the laws for purchase and sale of property by governmental units, contain provisions to keep the process open to the public and to assure a fair deal for government assets.

The City should follow the laws.

I did obtain the sales disclosure forms from the Marion County Assessor's office. These are related to the purchase of this property and the purchase by Market Square Garage/Ops Partners, LLC, of the former Bank One Ops Center block across the street from the garage, and part of the proposed Project Agreement. Tadd Miller signed these sales disclosure forms for that LLC. The sales disclosure form for the garage, indicates that the property is being purchased by the City (by DMD on behalf of the MDC), under a land contract.

I have requested a copy of that land contract. Presumably the City has not bought a property for over $13 million with just a wink and a nod. I will update you when I receive that contract.

I also requested a copy of any payments made by the City on the garage property, and if they exist, from what fund the money came.

Also swirling around this purchase, is the fact that back taxes are owed on the garage, and are now the City's responsibility. The back taxes now amount to $533,529.16. The City's payment of taxes due the 2nd half of 2009 and both halves of 2010, was envisioned by the MDC resolution. So, two rhetorical questions arise from that. Why is the City in arrears on taxes it owes? And, since the MDC resolution cannot be the basis of the authority to purchase the garage property, from where will the money to pay those back taxes come?

Frankly, what I think we see play out here in this one really bad deal for the taxpayers, is a pattern of conduct by the Ballard Administration, particularly this past year. They find small and large loopholes in the law that they use to benefit well connected individuals and firms, with little regard to the risks to the taxpayers of those deals. They go through the motions of putting these deals through at least some of the appropriate governing bodies (in this case the MDC), but then ignore the actual resolutions that authorized the deal and do whatever they want regardless of the legal authority to do so. We saw that with the deal to pay $8 million in property taxes a year to the Pacers, where the Ballard Administration did not bring the issue before the Council for a vote, as required by law. We saw partial truths expounded upon with the parking meter deal. We see partial truths dosed out in the North of South deal, as well as hiding the fact that a 10 year 100% abatement is at the core of that deal - while keeping the Council from a vote on that abatement. And we see the use of an abatement deal that uses money that should go to schools and other governmental units, instead used to purchase a parking garage by the City, in the original intent of this deal.

More on this when the documents I have requested are produced or said to not exist.


Anonymous said...

So the city isn't following the law or it's own rules. Who is going to stop them in this city, not our prosecutor and certainly not the attorney general of the state. Is there no end to this tragic opera?

Anonymous said...

As I have indicated many times to many people; this is Goldsmith III. He ignored every single law that should have stopped many of his efforts in their tracks. If anyone does get the gumption to indict anyone, Ballard will be the fall guy and he won't even know what hit him.

Downtown Indy said...

Does this purchase have any connection to Tim Durham other than a good chunk of his automobile collection was stored in that small building to the west of the parking garage?

I suppose he was renting the space and didn't have any form of ownership.

It always struck me as ood, though, that he had all those expensive cars stored downtown in what appeared to be an abandoned building.