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A new festival, Palladium cleaning and golf simulators: How Carmel could spend 2020 budget

Mayor Jim Brainard introduced his proposed 2020 budget to the Carmel City Council on Monday, detailing his administration's plans for more police officers and firefighters, a $75,000 Palladium cleaning and money for a new festival.

And it would come with a perk for taxpayers: a probable, slight decrease in the city's tax rate.

The mayor is also poised to receive a 3% raise — the same as other city employees.

The $164.6 million budget is a 10% increase from the 2019 budget, partially due to the annexation of Home Place. 

The city's tax rate would remain capped at 78.86 cents per $100 of assessed valuation, but leaders estimate the actual rate would likely decrease.

The Palladium at Carmel's Center for the Performing Arts is shown on March 28, 2014.
Charlie Nye/IndyStar

Bigger arts scene: Carmel wants a new festival with major film studio premieres and outdoor symphony concerts

Here are some of the budget changes from 2019:


Employees are poised to get a 3% pay raise, including Brainard and other elected officials. He's received much larger raises in previous years.

Brainard's salary will increase from $148,786 to $153,250. He is among the highest-paid mayors in the state, but still won't make as much as his police and fire chiefs, the director of Community Relations and Economic Development and some others. 

The highest paid member of his staff in 2018 was Douglas Haney, the city attorney, who made $171,833.

$425,000 for new festival

Brainard and Nancy Heck, the director of community relations and economic development, want to launch a music and film festival that would feature outdoor performances by the Carmel Symphony Orchestra and other groups, major studio movie premieres and discussion panels with film producers.

The music portion would highlight music by the city's symphony, and the film portion would aim to encourage major film studios from the East Coast to screen movie premieres in Carmel.

Heck said the festival would be 10 days long and slated for the month of May, in order to attract visitors, celebrities and national media who come to Indianapolis for the Indy 500.

$75,000 for Palladium cleaning 

Jim Crider, the city's director of administration, said the Palladium needs to be cleaned about once a decade, and it's nearing its 10-year mark.

That'll cost a total of $150,000, with the city setting aside half of that total during this budget cycle, and the second half in 2021.

$10,000 for indoor golf simulators

City-owned Brookshire Golf Club is requesting money for golf simulators, which allow people to play golf indoors using a video screen, in order to get more business during the winter months. Spending on the equipment will be spaced out over multiple years, with the city paying $10,000 this year.

$20,000 for new furniture

Brainard isn't asking for much of an increase in his portion of the budget. But he is asking for $20,000 to replace the old furniture in his lobby and conference room.

More police officers

The police department plans to hire three additional officers, for a total of 124 sworn officers. Raises for other police and civilian employees, the additional officers, would add $1.25 million to the budget. 

More firefighters

Brainard wants to create 15 new firefighter positions in order to staff the new ladder truck Carmel purchased, and an additional position to function as head of the fire buildings and grounds. 

The fire department is asking for an additional $3.4 million to pay for raises and those new employees. 

Additional employees

Brookshire Golf Course, the Redevelopment Commission and Community Relations departments are requesting one additional employee each. 

Meanwhile the clerk treasurer position has been divided into clerk and controller for 2020, so the city would have to pay an additional salary. The clerk is poised to make $113,000 in 2020.

There will also be two additional City Council members in 2020, each with salaries of $21,694, because the city was upgraded to second-class status.

$5 million total for road paving

Brainard set aside $5 million for road paving, which he said is higher than in the 2019 budget, but consistent with how much he tries to spend yearly.

But some council members aren't convinced it's enough money to keep residents happy with road conditions. Council members Tony Green and Sue Finkam both requested $500,000 more.

The City Council will have to vote on a final budget by the end of October. 

Natalia Contreras contributed to this story. 

Call IndyStar reporter Kaitlin Lange at 317-432-9270. Follow her on Twitter: @kaitlin_lange.