Carmel’s proposed 2020 budget includes $425K to launch music, film fest


The Carmel City Council met Sept. 2 for a second workshop to discuss the proposed 2020 budget. Visit to read coverage from the first workshop.

Highlights from the second workshop include:

Community Relations & Economic Development Dept.

The Community Relations & Economic Development Dept. is requesting a 28 percent increase in its budget from last year to fund a new employee, launch a music and film festival, work with an additional consultant and other expenses.

Nancy Heck, director of the department, said the new employee will be a project manager and is needed after her office recently took on additional responsibilities.

The biggest increase in Heck’s budget is $425,000 proposed to launch a music and film festival planned to debut the weekend before Memorial Day in May 2021. Heck said it would be similar to the Spoleto Festival in Charleston, S.C., and Ravinia Festival near Chicago.

Organizers aim to capitalize on crowds and celebrities already coming to Central Indiana for the Indianapolis 500, but City Councilor Laura Campbell said she isn’t sure that the Greatest Spectacle in Racing and Carmel’s music and film festival would appeal to the same crowds.

“I have some heartburn over this film festival,” she said. “I think it’s a very limited targeted audience, so when I see the amount for this festival I have a lot of hesitation, especially because in May there’s also the Indy Film Fest going on.”

Heck said the festival will be different than others nearby.

“What we have going for us that other places don’t is our established architecture and the ambiance of coming here, where you can walk from one theater to the other to the other then go to an outside showing in Midtown and then go to a concert on the Center Green,” she said. “Right there we have a lot of components in place that add to the experience.”

The council approved $125,000 in its 2019 budget to help launch the festival, an amount that city leaders previously said would revert to the general fund if the festival didn’t occur that year. Heck stated in an email Sept. 20 that the funds allocated for 2019 will be added to the $425,000 requested for 2020. It will help pay for an executive director to run the non-profit organization that will be formed to run the festival as well as initial costs to form the non-profit.

Heck compared the launch of the festival to the Carmel Christkindlmarkt, which the city helped start in 2017 by contributing approximately $440,000. Entering its third year, the market is expected to be financially self-sufficient for the first time, although the city supports the event by allowing use of the Center Green and providing workers from the street department to help with set up and tear down.

Heck’s proposed budget also includes an additional $251,560 for additional Bike Carmel programming, economic development promotions and funds for the Carmel Youth Assistance Programming.

She is proposing a $75,000 increase in consulting fees to work with a firm that can provide guidance on boosting economic development initiatives.

The proposed budget more than doubles the funds for external training and travel to $36,000 to accommodate the new employee and provide better opportunities for staff training conferences.

Carmel Fire Dept.

The Carmel Fire Dept. is proposing nearly a 15 percent increase in its budget. This would include 15 new firefighter positions to staff a new tiller truck likely to be kept at Station 45 in Home Place. Clay Township provided the funds to purchase the new truck for a little more than $1.2 million. The city is expected to receive the truck between April and July 2020.

The proposed budget also funds a new employee position that will oversee CFD buildings and grounds.

CFD is also requesting $10,000 to implement a mental health program similar to the one recently adopted by the Carmel Police Dept.

Parks & Recreation Dept.

Carmel Clay Parks & Recreation is planning to allocate $525,000 from its park capital fund to make infrastructure improvements along the Monon Greenway and Hagan-Burke Trail. Repairs of culverts and bridges are planned along the Monon near Carmel Creek, the City Center tunnel and along the Hagan-Burke Trail at the Cook Creek bridge.

The CCPR general fund is proposed to increase by 8 percent and include the addition of one employee.

The city council asked CCPR Director Michael Klitzing to consider having his department operate the city’s golf course and planned fieldhouse at Carmel Dads’ Club’s Mark Badger Memorial Park.


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