Fox 19 Report Scrutinizes Delinquent L’burg Loans; Mayor Says Plan To Recoup Has Been In Works
By Mike Perleberg
(Lawrenceburg, Ind.) – In his time with Fox 19, reporter Jody Barr has spent a many of his days to bringing to light issues affecting public safety and taxpayers in southeast Indiana.
Barr’s reports have ranged from a report on a City of Lawrenceburg economic development grant that may have personally benefited former officials in neighboring Greendale, to uncovering falsified firefighter certifications in Switzerland County, and more recently forcing the Switzerland County school board to change a generous health insurance perk for board members.
“I’ve been in three separate markets now doing this work and the further you are away from the center of the metros, there are very few media outlets to go into these areas and there’s a lot to look into. There’s nothing different in Lawrenceburg that I’ve seen in the other places that I’ve worked. There’s just some issues that needed a little public scrutiny and some folks let us know what was going on and we came and looked at it,” Barr told Eagle Country 99.3 on Thursday morning.
Barr’s latest report – “City lets taxpayer-backed loans go uncollected for years” – takes aim at loans made to local businesses by the City of Lawrenceburg. It aired Tuesday and has generated much buzz in the city.
The report looks at the status of some of the $16 million in loans the city has made to private businesses since 2006. Two of the 17 loans made since then have been paid off, according to the report. Last year, a law firm hired by the city’s prior administration recommended foreclosing on two loan recipients for a total of $5.2 million. However, most of the remaining loans are either behind or past due.
“What we found was all but two loans those balloon payments are due. We found that some have been due for two, three, four years,” Barr said.
HEAR EAGLE COUNTRY 99.3’S INTERVIEW WITH FOX 19 REPORTER JODY BARR IN THE AUDIO PLAYER BELOW.
You can also listen to the interview here.
The city, according to Barr, has not yet followed through the law firm’s recommendation to send out letters to the late borrowers to notify them the loans have defaulted. That’s despite a December 7, 2015 vote by the former city council to set a December 18, 2015 deadline to send the notices of default – just a couple weeks before four of the five council members would be leaving office.
Lawrenceburg Mayor Kelly Mollaun, a Republican took office in January along with four new city council members, is vowing action on the loans.
Mollaun told Eagle Country 99.3 that his administration is not skirting the issue and has been working on a way to recoup the outstanding loan money even before that latest Fox 19 report aired.
“We’ll share the plan when it’s ready. We know this has to be solved, but we can’t do it overnight. We’re not going to push it off on the next administration,” Mollaun told Eagle Country 99.3 following the interview with Barr.