Alliance, city want resolution on decades-old ‘loan’

Sunday Times Newspapers

WYANDOTTE – City officials and Wyandotte Community Alliance members are both looking to settle a nearly 20-year-old issue between the two parties regarding whether $60,000 the group received from the city was a grant or a loan.

Councilors Monday read a letter from the WCA concerning the money, issued to the non-profit organization in 1993.

The letter, from WCA Chairman Lee Williams, cites efforts by City Administrator Todd Drysdale in 2008 and Engineering Office Supervisor Kelly Roberts in March to contact them regarding the money.

At the meeting, Drysdale said the money has been on the city’s books as a “receivable” since the early ’90s.

“Our auditors as well as myself would like some resolution to the issue,” he said.

Drysdale also said financial statements provided to the city by the WCA in 1997 mention that the group, which refurbishes historic houses, would repay the money when it stopped investing money into the community.

“I think there was an expectation for repayment, clearly,” Drysdale said.

But documents provided by the WCA tell a different story: that the money was a grant. WCA member Corki Benson said at the meeting that city officials may have misinterpreted documents referring a $30,000 loan, issued and paid back in 1995, as having to do with the 1993 transaction.

The letter also stated that the WCA should not owe the city any more money unless, according to its by-laws, it dissolves, at which point all its assets are to be distributed to the city.

The letter also described the organization’s efforts in the city, such as its recent renovation of a 113-year-old house on Maple in January.

Councilors were in agreement that they would like to see the issue resolved as soon as possible. Some spoke in favor of forgiving it, citing the work the organization has done for the community.

“Without the Wyandotte Community Alliance, our town wouldn’t have some of the homes that have been redone,” Mayor Joseph Peterson said. “We’ll get it figured out. It’s just a matter of auditing.”

Though WCA officials said they submitted all the documents they had regarding the funds, City Attorney William Look said he intends to search for more in hopes of finding a resolution to the issue.

“I’m not going to assume what’s before you tonight is all the documentation,” Look said.