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Columbus City Council will review Tuesday whether a Columbus solar panel maker who ran into problems with local government officials has done enough to rectify the situation.
As for Columbus Mayor Kristen Brown, her mind is made up. Brown said Friday that Nusun Inc. should be deemed to be in noncompliance with its grant agreement.
Nusun came under fire this year when it failed to pay property taxes on time and did not hire enough people to comply with a grant requirement.
The company had received $325,000 in city and county tax money and in return agreed to, among other things, hire 80 employees by the end of 2012. It had 10 full-time and seven part-time employees as of mid-July.
The city, which holds the mortgage on Nusun’s plant, agreed in the original plan to forgive the mortgage payments in return for the company meeting its benchmarks.
Besides falling short in the hiring benchmark, however, failure to pay more than $20,000 in property taxes and penalties added to the company’s woes.
In June, Brown wanted the City Council to find that the company was not in compliance with its agreements and to make the company begin paying its $6,875 monthly mortgage.
However, council members set a more lenient path, requiring the company to file its past-due reports by mid-August, to begin meeting with the City Council’s Incentive Review Committee, to pay its past-due taxes by the end of June and to generate a realistic plan to meet employment benchmarks.
As of Aug. 1, Nusun was current on its property taxes, according to the Bartholomew County Treasurer’s office.
And, City Attorney Jeff Logston said via email that Nusun owner Ryan Stout had, as required by the city, been negotiating with the Incentive Review Committee.
City Council President Ryan Brand said Friday that Stout also has filed requested documents with the city.
Discussions at Tuesday’s meeting will reveal whether Stout’s plan to come into compliance with the original agreement will satisfy the council, Brand said.
The mayor said Friday that her initial opinion has not changed.
“We should be finding Nusun in substantial noncompliance ... and have them start making their monthly mortgage payments,” she said.
Evaluating business plans for their viability is a job for banks and venture capitalists — not for city government, Brown said.
Nusun Solar received nearly $900,000 in state, regional and local incentives for its operations on Industrial Drive near Walesboro. The total included $325,000 from Columbus, the Columbus Redevelopment Commission and Bartholomew County.
Stout could not be reached Friday.
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