Commentary by Fred Glynn
With each new term comes a fresh cascade of ambitious programs by our current mayor to entice and excite residents, thus averting their eyes from the looming debt crisis that awaits Carmel.
The list of “payfors,” to use a bit of Washington jargon, grows more slowly. We’ll pay for this how, again? Don’t worry about it – just keep enjoying all that Carmel has to offer. Don’t worry about the fiscal impact, because Carmel’s rising budget deficits and debt levels don’t much matter to everyday citizens. Heck, even the mayor himself enjoyed a 6.55 percent salary increase in the 2018 city-approved budget.
That’s a scary drift of thought, and it should set off alarm bells for all of our residents. Vast increases in debt will ultimately compromise Carmel’s ability to maintain its current array of projects, let alone add new ones, and threaten our standard of living. Want proof? Look no further than Standard & Poor’s 2017 downgrade of Carmel’s long-term credit rating. Standard & Poor’s, the nation’s respected credit worthiness firm, cited the city’s $300 million in additional debt over a three-year period to justify the reduction.
It is a myth that we cannot have a vibrant city, efficient government and fiscal health. I know because we’ve done it on the county council. Hamilton County has maintained world-class parks, expanded courts, fully funded public safety and kept pace with a population growing at the fastest rate in the state. All of this has been done while saving a staggering $3 million in rainy day funds. That is how good government works.
The county has achieved its fiscal health with disciplined budgeting, tempered use of debt-based financing, vision and principled leadership. As your mayor, I will worry less about paying developers and more about paving roads. Reducing debt and imposing discipline on our city’s spending will not reduce Carmel’s greatness. In fact, it will unleash a whole new potential in our city – one in which market forces fuel our development instead of manipulated growth that supports the mayor’s personal ambition.
A mayor cannot just think about today. A mayor must have the vision and strength of character to think about our children and grandchildren. As debt and spending increase, taxes will eventually and undoubtedly have to follow. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow. But sometime – likely after our current elected officials are gone – the next generation of Carmel residents will live under the consequence of our choices.
I ask for your vote. In return, I will pledge to make the decisions necessary to return Carmel to a AAA credit rating and ensure we leave a city as promising for our children as it has been for us.
Fred Glynn is a member of the Hamilton County Council and candidate for Carmel mayor.