Carmel Mayoral election: Debating the Numbers


The Current in Carmel looks at some of the statistics that are commonly used by the campaigns of both Mayor Jim Brainard and his challenger Rick Sharp, president of the City Council.



Brainard’s Claim: Only 3 percent of the city’s debt is paid for by residential property taxpayers

Brainard said the means out of all the property taxes paid for by Carmel residents, only $10 of that each year goes to pay off debt from each resident.

So what’s the other 97 percent of revenue that’s used to pay off Carmel’s debt? Brainard showed a pie chart that breaks down the revenues. The largest chunk of the pie is tax increment finances, which makes up more than half of the revenue to pay the city’s debt.

16 percent of the debt is paid for by County Option Income Tax.

Utility payments represent 25 percent of the chart, but Brainard points out that those aren’t paid by taxes but by fees for using services and some of that money comes from Westfield that uses Carmel’s sanitary sewer company.

Brainard said “there just isn’t any risk” because he believes there will always be TIF revenue.

“In this case we are letting business owners use their taxes to make infrastructure improvements that would have otherwise been paid for by property taxes and that’s why our property taxes are so low,” he said.

Brainard added that there is $27 million in TIF money in the Parkwood TIF that can be used in a shortfall.

Sharp said he doesn’t trust the numbers, claiming, “I want to see sources and uses. Pie charts are for grade school.”



Sharp’s Claim: Carmel has nearly $1 billion in debt.

Sharp likes to simply say that Carmel has nearly $1 billion in debt, but Brainard said that’s not true because the debt is actually around $600 million and that Sharp is including interest to inflate the figure.

“He’s trying to scare people,” Brainard said.

Sharp said he’s not trying to scare anybody, but that the numbers should be frightening because he thinks it’s the more accurate figure.

“The mayor wants to say nobody counts interest,” Sharp said. “I would count that. The number – just short of a billion dollars – comes from a report created by the state of Indiana. All forms of indebtedness of the city include the interest. You have to pay the interest. You need to show people the total number and be transparent.”

But Brainard said that’s not standard accounting principles.

“No financial statement does that,” he said. “They always list the principle. That’s just not the way it’s done.”

Part of that reason, Brainard said is because you can always refinance debt and change the interest rate.

“The interest can go up and it could go down,” he said.



  1. Here is a visual of the report referenced by Mr. Sharp.

    Interesting that Mayor Brainard states: “Part of that reason, Brainard said is because you can always refinance debt and change the interest rate.”

    My question Mayor Brainard, If that were the intention all along, which you have stated – Why did you agree to such an egregious pre-pay penalty of $16-20M for debt that you incurred prior to the last election (2011) for the instruments of participation, which ultimately had to be included in the Carmel Redevelopment Commission and 4CDC 2012 Bailout?

    Was that part of your much touted 10Yr Financial Plan?

    That sure does not seem to be fiscally responsible with Carmel Taxpayer funds – whatever the source!

  2. Simple math question. The Superrich Corporation wants to buy all Carmel city owned land so they can build whatever they want. They are willing to pay-off Carmel’s debt in exchange for the land.

    What would be the price? a) $600 million or b) $1billion.

    If you answered a) $600 million you and Brainard are correct. Sharp is wrong.

    If Sharp wants to say debt + interest is a more accurate picture than I agree. Say debt + interest = $1 billion, but saying Carmel is $1 billion in debt is incorrect and misleading.

  3. Simple answer – Debt Obligation is $1,000,000,000.00! That is approximately $12,000.00 per Carmel resident.

    Good luck finding “Superrich Corporation ….. remember, this is Carmel – based upon Mayor Braiard’s M.O. Carmel taxpayers would have to pay Superrich to come to Carmel, and then the Mayor would get campaign contributions from Superrich owners, after having a photo opportunity announcing Superrich’s move to Carmel.

    Carmel would then be named #1, in a trade magazine as the best community for retired left-handed underwater basketweavers after paying local and national public relation hacks $100,000 contracts to fill out applications for “Basketweaver’s Monthly” magazine, special underwater issue, whose biggest contributor is the City of Carmel, with monies from Mayor Brainard’s slush funds (1203 COMMUNITY RELATIONS etc.) or the infamous magic money tree!

    Jeff Worrell would in turn, write a lengthy positive article in the CIC, espousing the positive community aspects of of the move, the #1 designation and promoting the elimination of the stop sign at 126th Street and Auman Drive. #GoodDay Carmel!

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