Carmel mayor Jim Brainard spoke at the Carmel Chamber of Commerce luncheon on Oct. 10, giving his State of the City address.
Brainard touched early on in his speech about the City’s recent ranking by Money magazine as the No. 1 place to live for cities with populations between 50,000 and 300,000. The mayor also touted several awards recently bestowed upon the community, including a Green Community Award from the Indiana Association of Cities and Towns, national recognition for the success of the Keystone Parkway project and a 2012 Model Agency distinction for the Carmel Police Department.
“I can’t think of a better anniversary present for Carmel’s 175th year,” Brainard said of the accolades. “(The) awards reflect the level of expertise as well as hard work of our city’s department heads and the high regard for their innovation and dedication to excellence. I would like to thank the employees of the City of Carmel for achieving excellence in their respective fields.”
Brainard delved deeper into the Money magazine ranking, noting the factors involved in the publication’s decision included Carmel’s vibrant economy, its continued quality of schools, affordable living and “The Happiness Factor.”
“Some people find happiness through spending time with family and friends, a fulfilling career, attending or participating in the arts, attending city festivals and events, recreational pursuits or outdoor leisure activities,” he said. “We are trying to build a city that reduces the stress of traffic jams, crime and a hectic lifestyle – a city that fulfills the promise laid out by the drafters of the Declaration of Independence.”
In a turn to more pressing issues, Brainard was quick to praise Carmel’s reliance on TIF (tax increment financing) dollars to fund development – and defend that methodology.
“Carmel is one of many cities in Indiana using TIF for redevelopment,” he said. “Our TIF bonds are carefully timed to be paid in full when the TIF districts expire. There are some in the community who would try to have you believe that we have put too much at risk. They paint a doomsday scenario, saying that we have jeopardized the future financial integrity of the city by borrowing and investing so much in redevelopment projects.”
Brainard then reaffirmed Carmel would be unaffected by such issues, but warned that vigilance would still be required.
“While the recent deep recession has required careful and constant fiscal management, Carmel will emerge unscathed and well poised for the future,” he said. “It appears that the City will have about $20 million in the bank as of the end of this calendar year.”
City Council president Rick Sharp was an interested observer at the address, noting, “I thought it was a good recap of the projects done to date. I also thought some of it was damage control, regarding the $200 million in bailouts the Carmel Redevelopment Commission is seeking.”
Brainard closed by saying, “Even though we have achieved the No. 1 designation and we understand this is a tremendous honor, it is not a time to sit back and rest on our laurels, but rather a time to take advantage of this rare opportunity to capitalize on this great story and use it to attract top level employees and businesses.”