The new mayor of Greenwood may have inherited more than just a job when he took office last month. According to Mayor Myers, the city’s debt now appears twice as high as previously reported.
When Mark Myers took over the reins of the city from longtime mayor Charles Henderson, it looked as if the city had about $1.9 million of debt. Myers brought in his own financial team though, which he says discovered more than $2 million of debt had been unreported in the city budget. That brought the total debt to nearly four and a quarter million dollars.
Much of that debt relates to an agreement Greenwood made decades ago with the City of Indianapolis for water treatment.
“We pay for the maintenance and upgrades to the sanitation plant on Southport road, and for the past ten years, Greenwood has not paid for any of those upgrades and so in November of last year, the city entered into an agreement to pay them 2.3 million over the next three years for those arrearages in the upgrade of that facility,” he says. “That was not in the budget either.”
Some of that debt will be paid for by raising sewer rates for residents. Myers is proposing a yearly 10% increase for the next two years, which will raise the average bill around $2 per month per year.
However, Henderson disputes that Greenwood was ever in arrears with Indianapolis over the water rates. He says his administration made the $2.3 million maintenance payment every two years it was due.
Henderson also says during his term there were discrepancies over what Indianapolis said Greenwood owed for water, and what those usage fees really were.
According to a spokesperson for Citizens Water, the company that manages water and sewage treatment for Indianapolis, there is an on-going investigation into the matter.
One Henderson initiative Myers plans to continue is the downtown revitalization project. Myers is working with the Old Town Greenwood Association to replace aging façades downtown to attract new local restaurants and shops. Myers is also planning on moving city hall into an old bank building downtown to kick start the project.
“We want to revitalize our downtown, and have it a thriving downtown again,” Myers says. “An important fixture, an important piece of that is us, the city, acquiring the bank building and the parking lots around it.”
WFIU is following up with Citizens Water and will have more on that report in the coming days.