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The former Courtyard Apartments, 2725 W. 16th St., Anderson, are shown in 2014. Property Resources Associates purchased the complex in September 2019 and changed the name to Bingham Square Apartments.

ANDERSON — The Anderson City Council on Thursday approved a $935,000 bond to complete the Bingham Square Apartments amid concerns about financial oversight from a couple of council members.

The bond was approved 8-1 in the specially called meeting, with Councilwoman Rebecca Crumes voting against it because she has not received from economic development officials the financial documents necessary to assess the project with a potential assessed valuation of $5 million.

“I never did like approving these bonds just based on a recommendation,” she said. “Somebody better get me some documents on these bond issues.”

Economic development officials said they were anxious to have the resolution passed because it should have been approved in March, just as the COVID-19 pandemic arrived and delayed actions.

In the hour-and-a-half long meeting, Crumes, who said she has concerns about sustainability, finances and processes, said she believes a member of the council should serve on any committee that involves public money being used for private projects.

As she voted against the project, Crumes stopped to explain.

“I am for the residents in that complex, but I have to vote no because I did not get the documents I asked for,” she said.

Crumes called for checks and balances through provisions she wanted added to the documents. But Assistant City Attorney Timothy Lanane and Economic Development Director Greg Winkler said the resolutions and contracts as written is the way the city has done it for 30 years and any changes might have unintended consequences.

“If you change that language, the financial institution may decide it wants to take a pass on this,” Winkler said.

Crumes said she was concerned because this isn’t the first time these apartments, the former Courtyard Apartments at 2725 W. 16th St., had been renovated. The last time, she said, residents experienced a number of problems, including broken air conditioners and a manager, who could not be reached to arrange repair and arguments within the city about who was going to pay for repairs after a door was kicked in under a no-knock warrant when the suspect was not around.

“The residents didn’t have any assurances the last time it was fixed up,” she said. “I’m not trying to be difficult. I’m just trying to answer constituents’ questions.”

Crumes attacked what she called the city’s lack of transparency by not providing financial documents.

Winkler said when companies are publicly held, their financial information is readily available, but that often is not the case for privately held companies, such as PR Bingham, developer for the apartments.

“That confidentiality aspect is a very important part of the process of doing business with a private company,” he said.

Winkler said he and other economic and redevelopment officials take great care in selecting the companies with whom they are willing to work with and consider.

“The companies we aren’t comfortable with, we won’t work with,” he said. “I believe they stand the scrutiny of our vetting process, which is why we are comfortable moving forward.”

Impatient with Crumes’ questions, Councilman Ollie Dixon said the bond needed to be approved because it already was started and there are 129 families waiting for a home.

“Those 129 families is trying to get a roof over their head,” he said. “Let’s stop talking and start helping these people out. Let’s not keep on arbitrarily discussing their future.”

Though he ultimately voted in favor of the apartment project, Councilman Jon Bell echoed many of Crumes’ concerns. He was especially concerned about not finding language that would prevent developers from selling the properties without the city’s permission.

“They should have to pay the city back. There”s no two ways about it,” he said.

Winkler admitted the city already has run into problems with the developers of the Tower Apartments who have put the downtown high-rise building up for sale even after the city’s permission was denied. The city is looking at its options under the agreement, he added.

Follow Rebecca R. Bibbs on Twitter at @RebeccaB_THB, or call 765-640-4883.

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