Carmel looks at $195 million refinancing package

The Carmel City Council will consider backing a $195 million debt re-issue, which would free up millions of dollars for further development of the massive City Center project.

The refinancing package, which the council will discuss Monday night, comes after Mayor James Brainard agreed this spring to give the council oversight of future debt obligations by the Carmel Redevelopment Commission.

The commission had rung up about $140 million of debt without council approval but this year began to find its revenue streams stretched thin. With the city’s backing, the commission can refinance debt on which it’s paying 6 percent to 9 percent interest.

Brainard said he expects the refinancing to free up from $10 million to $17 million, depending on the final interest rates.

The redevelopment commission has about $240 million in debt, but not all of it is included in the package headed to the council. The $195 million would cover refinancing-related fees and a list of 20 obligations entered into since late 2008. 

Some are installment-purchase contracts; others are grant agreements secured by lines of credit, and two are land-sale contracts.

Although city council members want to help the redevelopment commission improve its balance sheet, they won’t sign off on the refinancing without further scrutiny, said Eric Seidensticker, a council member since 2007.

Given the nature of some of the debt, Seidensticker said he wants assurance that the value of underlying assets is accurate.

“We’re talking about obligating the taxpayer on this,” he said.

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