The Monroe City Council voted earlier this week to finally adopt a measure incurring $11 million in bonded indebtedness to pay for infrastructure projects in the Tower Drive-Armand Street district.
The City Council previously introduced the ordinance but gave the ordinance its final okay during the council’s regular meeting Tuesday.
The ordinance was adopted amid some questions and some confusion.
The confusion stemmed from incorrect dollar amounts published on the paperwork for the Tower-Armand bond issue as well as another bond issue for projects in the Interstate 20 Economic Development District.
For example, the City Council’s meeting agenda included a document authorizing the city to incur $13 million in debt instead of $11 million for the Tower-Armand district.
None of the City Council members or other city officials discussed the apparent typographical error during the meeting.
After the meeting, The Ouachita Citizen asked Nnamdi Thompson, the city’s municipal advisor with Government Consultants, whether $13 million was a typographical error or the new ceiling for the city’s bond issue.
“It was just another typographical error,” Thompson said. “They probably corrected it on one, but left that.”
Thompson explained that when city officials first discussed the Tower-Armand district bond issue, they tossed around the possibility of incurring a total of $13 million.
“So, probably long time ago when we did the resolution, we probably thought we were going out for $13 million,” Thompson said. “That one was just a little ghost left in there.”
The final measure adopted by the City Council was confirmed to be $11 million, not $13 million.
Meanwhile, City Council member Michael Echols pointed out another typographical error in the document authorizing the issuance of bonds for the I-20 district.
The City Council intended to incur up to $23.5 million for the I-20 district, but the meeting agenda included a proposed ordinance incurring only $13 million for the I-20 district.
Holding up the document, Echols pointed out the discrepancy.
“It needs to be 23.5,” Thompson said.
The I-20 district is governed by a board of directors. Echols previously served as a member of the I-20 board. The I-20 board decides how to spend sales tax revenues generated in the economic development district, whether on infrastructure projects or on land to build such projects.
Echols asked why the I-20 board had not prepared an annual financial report on its operations for the City Council, as required. Mayor Jamie Mayo’s administration works closely with the I-20 board to monitor finances among other concerns.
“The council has not received that report from anyone on that board in a couple of years,” Echols said. “I think it’s time we do that. Given a little vision from that board to what those projects might be, would be something of great benefit to us.”
When Mayo first proposed incurring debt for the Tower-Armand district, the debt proposal was set at $3 million, though city officials had no specific plans on how to spend the money.
When the City Council voted unanimously to approve to increase the debt from $3 million to $11 million during the July 23 meeting, not one member of the City Council questioned the increase.
City officials still have not provided any specific list of projects requiring work in the Tower-Armand district.
EDITOR'S NOTE: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that City Councilman Michael Echols was a member of the I-20 board. He resigned from that position about two months ago. The Ouachita Citizen regrets the error.