Brainard poised to become highest-paid mayor in state  


Carmel’s mayor could soon be the highest paid in the state.

The Carmel City Council will review a resolution at its Oct. 1 meeting that would give Mayor Jim Brainard a 7 percent raise, increasing his annual salary from $139,052 to $148,786. The city also will continue to provide him with a leased vehicle for personal and business use and pay for maintenance, repairs, cleaning and gasoline.

The city’s other elected officials – judge, clerk-treasurer and city council members – are proposed to receive a 3 percent raise, which is in line with cost-of-living raises most city employees are expected to receive for 2019.

The city completed a salary study in 2016 that showed Brainard’s pay is below average mayor and city manager salaries in comparable cities nationwide, according to Barb Lamb, Carmel’s director of human resources. She recommended the mayor’s salary be increased to $179,000 for 2017.

“The council rejected that recommendation in favor of a 2 percent (cost of living adjustment) for all elected officials,” Lamb said. “The council rationale was that it was too much at one time and should be spread out over a longer period.”

The state’s highest-paid mayor in 2018 is Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson, who makes $142,096. A City of Gary spokesperson said the salary was set at that level at least 15 years ago under a different mayor and that a raise has not been proposed for 2019.

The mayor’s pay does not correlate to the size of the municipality. In 2018, Mayor Joe Hogsett of Indianapolis – by far the state’s largest city – is making $95,000. Fishers, which is more closely aligned in size and population to Carmel, is paying Mayor Scott Fadness $131,248 in 2018 and is proposing to pay him $135,174 next year.

Even with the raise, Brainard won’t be the highest-paid person on the city’s payroll. City attorney Doug Haney makes $170,285, and Director of Administration Jim Crider makes $152,664.

                                  2018 Salary                          Proposed 2019 Salary

Mayor                                   $139,052                                                         $148,786

Judge                                    $127,099                                                         $130,912

Clerk-treasurer                      $109,951                                                         $113,250

City councilors                        $20,448                                                          $21,062