Indy taxpayers may have to foot $12 million bill for project that isn’t happening

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Nov. 9, 2015) – The City of Indianapolis could wind up taking out a $12 million short term loan to pay for a project that never even broke ground. A proposal being introduced before the City-County Council would pay for expenses related to attempts to build a new Criminal Justice Complex.

The overall project was estimated at $1.7 billion but even though it failed the bills are still adding up. According to the council’s CFO, the city spent more than $6 million in legal fees. Other expenses include developers, architects, and a public relations firm. Even the losing bidders will get a check.

“This is a very bad use of taxpayer dollars what I’m hopeful is there is as much from that $12 million that we spent that we can reuse so let’s milk that for all we can but no that’s not the way to go about it,” said Jeff Miller.

The Deputy Mayor for economic development blamed the council for playing politics. He stressed the project had the potential to save taxpayers money in the long run.

The city would like to pay all vendors as soon as possible.

Mayor-elect Joe Hogsett released the following statement in response to this story:

“As a former federal prosecutor, I saw first hand the need for a new jail. Upon being sworn in as mayor on January 1, I will move as quickly as possible to find a long-term, fiscally-responsible solution to this problem that can be developed with transparency and full involvement from all relevant stakeholders. I look forward to working with the newly-elected city-county council toward a resolution that is in the best interest of the city’s taxpayers as well as the city’s law enforcement community.”

“The city itself should not be paying these because again, this is coming out of the pockets of the taxpayers,” said Angela Mansfield (D – District 2).

When the city county council voted down a proposal to build a new criminal justice center earlier this year, $16.5 million dollars had already been spent. Architects, engineers, and lawyers involved in developing plans for the project, all still need to be paid.

Democratic City County Councilors like Mansfield are furious.

“There should have been a full fiscal analysis to the approach of where they were heading down from the get-go before the even entered in to these contracts. Everything was done backwards and it wasn’t for the benefit of the taxpayers,” she said.

Contracts, costing millions, were never approved by City County Council; instead, only authorized by the Mayor’s administration. $5.3 million was already paid to architects and engineers to develop plans. Another $11.2 has yet to be paid.

“Some of this I’m told is business as usual. Still, that’s not something the council had discussed ahead of time,” said Jeff Miller (R – District 19).

Even republicans, in support of a new justice center are disappointed these multimillion dollar contracts never got the go ahead from council.

“We can’t get here again. We can’t get this far down a path with this much monetary commitment and be at a place where we have nothing to show for it,” said Miller.

Some councilors argue the plans that were developed in this process though can be used for future analysis. Other councilors though, don’t want to pay a dime and say the administration needs to figure out how to pay for these contracts without taxpayer money.

A $12 million dollar loan to pay for the contracts will now need to be approved by the Administration and Finance Committee, chaired by Mansfield.

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