Friday, June 26, 2015

Recent events demand that Team Gahan provide a full and prompt public disclosure of the city's finances.

Today we are being gifted with the crowning achievement of Jeff Gahan's first and only term as mayor, as his Mayor Jeff Gahan Presents Your River Run Family Water Park opens for a truncated first season.

The project, which was not mentioned a single time during Gahan's mayoral campaign in 2011, was originally budgeted for circa $9 million, as borrowed on the city's TIF ONE card, although now the city alleges that the real cost has been only $7.5 million. It will be open for wetness perhaps two months each year, and has a fee structure virtually the same as the Kentucky Kingdom amusement facility in Louisville.

Want to go to either of these fun parks? You'll just have to drive.

The re-election circuses will continue this evening with another "free" summer concert series installment at Bicentennial Park, itself built at a cost of somewhere around three-quarters of a million dollars, though not with adequate infrastructure for the events being held there. Perhaps another $200,000 has been spent over a period of fours years on temporary stages, sound and booking, as provided by a third-party contractor/promoter based in Louisville.

Meanwhile, an amphitheater languishes.

Just up one-way Spring Street street from Bicentennial Park is the former site of Coyle Chevrolet and Coyle Dodge. Gahan's minions have cut a deal with an Indianapolis developer to construct "upscale" apartment buildings at the site. It is said to be a $15 million project, spurred in part by an unprecedented sewer tap-in waiver worth more than $200,000 to the developer, as well as TIF bonds allowing the developer to substantially reduce the amount of its own investment in the project.

In short, millions of dollars are leaving town, as going to incentivize these apartments. Standing before the rubber-stamp Redevelopment Commission, upon which sits the chairman of the Democratic Party, the city's economic developer described the nature of this deal.

"It's boilerplate," said David Duggins.

Yesterday, Develop New Albany forwarded an e-circular touting the many refurbishments and investments occurring in downtown New Albany. It can be read here.

Of the eleven separate projects discussed in the circular (and there are others under way, too), eight have been financed entirely by local private investors, with minimal city participation.

Two of them, wayfinding parking signage and the farmers market expansion (now termed "City Square" in yet another utterly non-transparent exercise), are city-funded projects.

The eleventh? It's the Coyle site redevelopment -- heavily incentivized, subsidized and according to Duggins, "boilerplate".

Perhaps our local builders should establish a post office box in Indianapolis.

All this, and I haven't even mentioned the $3 million beautification project on Main Street that contradicts every tenet of the Speck study following (not preceding) it.

Recall these previous postings, and as you do, contemplate Team Gahan's pathological secrecy and habit of non-transparency.

Phipps: City council has not been asked for more money; therefore, River Run Family Water Park is not over budget.

Pocket veto council Ninja.

Jeff Gahan refused to sign an ordinance requiring City Hall to provide financial information to the city legislative body. This "pocket veto" was dispersed via a 9-0 vote by the very same city council that has allowed itself to be played like a cheap kazoo by the mayor.

What's that about?

There is an election coming in November. Amid the scrambling for cover, does anyone know how much the pool really cost? And, finally, would you characterize any of this as "boilerplate"?

It's time for New Albany to try something different for a change, but before this opportunity arrives in November, a good first step would be Team Gahan's full and prompt public disclosure of the city's finances.

What we'll probably get instead is this.

$$$ hologram improvement project in New Albany receives bond, Dan and Adam approval.

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