Charlestown cannot afford four more years of Bob Hall’s decision making style.
Our current abuse of Tax Increment Financing hurts our schools and increases the likelihood of Greater Clark School Corporation having to ask for a special tax referendum to meet their budget.
Superintendent Mark Laughner said in recent public budget meetings that the school system loses a “significant” amount of money due to the abuse of TIF. Unlike other local cities, Charlestown refuses to allow 15% of our TIF revenue to go back to the school system. To compensate for their budget shortfalls, GCCS raised their tax rate last year (from .8536 to 1.136). Who is paying for Bob Hall’s abusive use of TIF? You, the property owners.
Bob Hall’s plan for redevelopment in Charlestown is costing us millions of dollars and we’ve seen no return on our investment.
We’ve assumed $2.5 million of debt to fund John Neace’s Springville Manor housing community, which is not filling according to expectations. We spent $2 million on an apartment project for a private development company which included selling them $1 million of land for $1. We’ve agreed to over $2 million of TIF debt for a hospital that hasn’t opened yet. These investments have so far only improved the economic situation of private developers and have not created jobs for Charlestown residents.
Bob Hall’s redevelopment strategy has damaged the city’s reputation and wasted taxpayers’ money by embroiling us in three major lawsuits.
Lawsuits related to Mayor Hall’s redevelopment of Pleasant Ridge have attracted negative media attention to Charlestown. To summarize the cases…
The Pleasant Ridge Neighborhood Association has sued the mayor and other city officials on his team in Clark County Circuit Court for alleged civil rights and constitutional violations. This trial is scheduled to begin November 12th and the judge has previously ruled that the association will likely win on the majority of their claims. The plaintiffs ask only that they be allowed to keep their homes and are not looking for monetary awards.
- Some of the former Pleasant Ridge Landlords have sued the mayor and members of his team in the US District Court for alleged civil rights and constitutional violations in addition to civil charges for racketeering and extortion. Settlement negotiations have failed and trial is set for 2020. Although the judge initially dismissed charges of racketeering, she reinstated the allegations when the plaintiffs demonstrated that a pattern of extortion exists. If the landlords win, they could be entitled to triple amount of their awarded damages.
- US Specialty Insurance Company, who provides coverage for the city’s legal fees, has sued the mayor and members of his team named in the other two lawsuits in US District Court. The company has asked a judge to declare that they do not have to pay the legal bills associated with the Pleasant Ridge cases because they allege the city is in breach of contract due to city officials’ adverse use of building code enforcement. This matter is set to be resolved next year.
As of today, the city has spent $1,181,836 on legal fees to defend Bob Hall’s redevelopment decisions.
None of these cases will be resolved before the election. It’s significant that the city’s insurance company has sued seeking to be excused from paying because they believe Bob Hall and his team have acted outside the scope of their appointment. If the insurance company wins, Indiana code (IC 34-13-4-1) allows the city council to decide who should pay. Taxpayers should not foot the bill for Bob Hall’s bad decisions.
We need to evaluate our use of TIF so we aren’t hurting schools. We need to spend taxpayer money on projects that benefit citizens.
We cannot afford four more years of costly development plans. This year elect a mayor who wants to keep Charlestown First.
I ask for your vote on November 5th.