Current in Carmel looks at some of the statistics that are commonly used by the campaigns of both Mayor Jim Brainard and his challenger Rick Sharp, president of the City Council.
Brainard’s Claim: Using one house as a model, property taxes have decreased by 38 percent since 1998.
Brainard talks about property taxes decreasing in Carmel and using a home that his administration has been tracking for years as an example. For that home, property taxes have gone from $2,814 to $1,739 since 1998. He said he isn’t cherry picking an unusual home and it should be a clear example of “solid fiscal management” leading to lower taxes.
“It should be pretty accurate,” Brainard said. “This particular house hasn’t had any additions where it would mess up the assessment. It actually appreciated in value since 1998. It’s worth more and the taxes are lower. And that’s not just the rate, it’s the actual taxes.”
Sharp said he questions looking at one house and he then proceeded to show data that showed taxes have gone up in many cases.
“Rather than look at one parcel, you have to look at a variety of parcels at different home values,” he said.
Sharp said Brainard can’t take credit for lower property taxes because he thinks state polices have shaped that more than Brainard’s doing. Sharp points out when Brainard tried to use a chart showing this house in a mayoral debate.
“Did you notice when I asked the question about state tax policy that he immediately got up and grabbed his visual aid and started scrutinizing it and put it away?” he said.
Brainard said Sharp’s argument doesn’t work.
“He’s trying to talk about state tax caps, but we’ve always been under the cap,” he said.
Sharp’s Claim: The Carmel Redevelopment Commission faces a projected shortfall of more than $40 million needed to pay off debt.
Sharp asserts that the CRC, an entity of the city, won’t be able to find enough revenue to pay off its debts unless a different strategy is taken. He points to the May 29 Umbaugh report that shows a shortfall in tax increment finance revenue, which could have disastrous effects.
“If they are unable to meet their debt service obligations, then the Special Benefits Tax will be levied,” he said. “That’s all there is to it.”
He said the CRC has only been able to make debt payments so far by selling property, which he points out is a one-time revenue source. In addition, he said the CRC is anticipating revenue in their report from sources that aren’t dependable. In some cases, revenue is projected from projects that haven’t begun.
“The CRC’s has built hundreds of millions of debt built on projections with no margins of error with no economic slowdowns,” he said. “Right off the bat, we know there’s a problem because there will be economic slowdowns. There are buildings that aren’t there. They haven’t even broken ground yet. That’s a huge miss.”
Brainard said Sharp is missing the point because the May 29 report is meant to be super conservative which means there should be far more revenue that the report projects. Also, he points that there are projects – such as the $130 million Midtown plan – which wasn’t built into projects that will be a huge revenue source. Brainard said you can’t just look at TIF because there are so many different revenue soruces.
“He’s not counting the balance that’s going to be left in the Parkwood TIF,” he said. “Not only is it way down the road, it’s just not true.”