Newsmakers: ODSA calls in loan to Willard & KelseyWritten by John P. McCartney | | email@example.com
UPDATE: Todd Walker, chief communications officer for the Ohio Development Services Agency (ODSA), reported Jan. 2 that the agency had certified Willard & Kelsey’s $4,135,855.12 debt to the Ohio Attorney General’s (OAG) office in November. The OAG’s office is charged with undertaking the legal process of trying to collect the debt.
More than four months after the Ohio Development Services Agency (ODSA) notified Willard & Kelsey Solar executives that it was calling in its $4.1 million loan, nothing has changed.
Mossie Murphy, the solar group’s vice president of sales, marketing, planning and development, reported in early August that, “Clearly, our intent is to repay the state.” He said he could not comment at that time as whether, “We’re able to do that or not. But it’s clearly our intent.”
Murphy deferred making an additional comment Dec. 21 until he had an opportunity to speak with Michael Cicak, chairman and CEO. Murphy did not return follow up phone calls.
Murphy had said the Aug. 9 news that ODSA, known as the Ohio Department of Development at the time, was calling in its loan did not take Willard & Kelsey executives by surprise.
“I don’t think this was a real big shock for anybody,” Murphy said at the time. Murphy said he and Cicak had been “communicating with the state on this issue” since April.
In a letter sent to Murphy, dated Aug. 6, Diane M. Lease, ODSA’s chief legal counsel and ethics officer, formally notified the Perrysburg solar firm that since, “The department has not consistently received your regularly scheduled installment payments since September, 2011,” the state agency was demanding the full payment of $4,135,855.12 with a per diem interest rate of $204.73 by Sept. 30.
If Willard & Kelsey failed to make full payment by the deadline, Daryl Hennessy, assistant chief of ODSA’s business services division, said in August that the state agency would certify the debt to the Ohio Attorney General’s office, which will then begin the legal process of trying to collect the debt.
Hennessey did not return request for comment as to whether that debt had been paid or been forwarded to the Ohio Attorney General for collection.
Dan Tierney, spokesman for the attorney general’s office, said in August that once his office got involved in collecting money, Willard & Kelsey’s interest rate on the loan would increase from 2 to 14 percent.
The attorney general’s office also has a standing policy of establishing a 10-percent-of-loan collection fee plus interest, which generally rounds out to about 14 percent, Tierney said. The fee attempts to cover the state’s man-hour and litigation costs while ensuring the state agency owned money receives full repayment of its loan, Tierney said.
Tierney did not return requests for comment as to whether the loan had been forwarded to the Ohio Attorney General’s office for collection.
“We’d like to think it won’t get to that point,” Murphy said in August. “But we will continue to make every effort to work toward an equitable arrangement so that we can repay the state money because we certainly acknowledge we owe them that money.
“We’ve made it clear to [ODSA] and we’ve tried to be very upfront with the fact that, as we sit here today, we don’t have the resources to pay the full [$4.1] million, but we clearly want to pay the full [$4.1] million, and we’re trying to work to that end.”
Hennessy said in August that the ODSA works with companies “To make adjustments when we think it’s appropriate and necessary. We know Willard & Kelsey struggled with job creation, but at the end of the day, this is about a loan and it’s not making payments back to the State of Ohio. That’s primarily driving the request for the repayment. We wouldn’t have done a $5 million loan to them if they had not committed to creating 400 jobs.”
Katie Sabatino, an ODSA spokesperson, had said that such drastic measures may become common if businesses “don’t live up to the commitments they promised [because] we’re going to take appropriate action. We want to make sure we’re being business friendly in letting them repay their loans, but still being good stewards of taxpayer dollars.”
On April 15, Murphy said “we view the state money as sacred, and the state loans we fully intend to pay.”