The Carmel City Council on Oct. 1 introduced the proposed 2019 budget and approved a resolution to keep Carmel’s tax rate capped at its current rate of 78.87 cents per $100 of assessed property value.
The $102 million proposed for the 2019 general fund is a 6.4 percent increase over the 2018 budget. Highlights of the budget include five new police officers, additional dollars for community events and festivals, funds to operate the new Monon Boulevard park and additional street department maintenance operations.
If the budget is approved and the tax rate stays the same, the owner of a $200,000 home would pay approximately $771 per year in taxes to the city. Carmel has the ninth-lowest tax rate of 118 cities in Indiana, Mayor Jim Brainard told the council.
“I think we’ve gone for almost a decade now without a rate increase in Carmel,” Brainard said, adding that the tax rate is projected to decrease for 2020.
Councilor Ron Carter said city leaders aren’t seeking to have the lowest tax rates in the state because of the effect it would have on services.
“We don’t really approach the budgets from the standpoint of thinking we want to have the very lowest expenses of anyplace or that we want to cut taxes to the bone,” he said. “It is our philosophy that you have to have taxes to run an appropriate government for the people that live in your jurisdiction.”
State law requires that the council pass a budget by Nov. 1. Its next meeting is set for 6 p.m. Oct. 15 at City Hall.
The council also introduced ordinances that set salaries for elected officials, city employees in the executive branch, clerk-treasurer’s office and city court.
City councilors are proposed to receive a 3 percent increase, while the mayor is proposed to receive a 7 percent raise, making him the highest-paid mayor in Indiana at $148,786 per year.
Pay increase aims to attract bailiffs
A proposed change in pay scales for city court employees is designed to encourage more police officers to sign up as bailiffs, a position that’s become difficult to fill, according to City Court Judge Brian Poindexter.
The rate is proposed to increase from a maximum of $35 to $45 an hour, as the court is having trouble finding officers to accept the job with many other – more lucrative – part-time opportunities available, Poindexter said.
Poindexter said the Carmel Police Dept. always provides a bailiff when the court needs one but that they often use an on-duty officer to fill the position.
“I really would prefer not to have to take someone off the road,” Poindexter said.