Last fall, the Carmel City Council considered a 40 percent salary increase for Mayor Jim Brainard in 2017. After much debate, the pay raise was shot down, but Brainard has proposed a $60,000 increase in mayoral salary in his budget for 2018. All other elected officials have only a 3 percent cost of living increase currently budgeted.
The elected officials salary ordinance has not made its way to the Carmel City Council yet, so the pay increase amounts could change. Salary ordinances for 2018 for all nonelected positions have already been submitted and released to the public.
Brainard confirmed that the pay increase will be discussed.
“That was something that was recommended by a consultant a year ago, and I think the council has indicated they want to discuss it,” he said.
City Council President Sue Finkam said she hopes to see the elected official salary ordinance soon and stated that everything will be discussed in the public eye.
“This is something we will give great consideration to,” she said.
City Councilor Jeff Worrell said he wants to take his time to consider the elected official salary ordinance.
In 2016, the City of Carmel conducted a salary study, comparing Carmel’s salaries to other cities. Many department heads and nonelected employees received large pay increases that were meant to get them closer to the industry average.
If approved last year, Brainard’s pay would have increased from $127,946 annually in 2016 to $179,344 in 2017, which is more than $50,000. This would have made him the highest paid mayor in the state of Indiana at the time. He would have made more than the Indianapolis mayor and Indiana’s governor for 2017.
Judge Brian Poindexter would have received a 20 percent raise for 2017 in that proposed budget, but the council decided instead to give him only a cost of living increase.
Carmel Clerk-Treasurer Christine Pauley was at one point set to receive a 23 percent bump, but during the budget process that was reduced to 2 percent, which led to her claiming that it was discrimination that she would be given a pay raise less than her peers.
In the end, the Carmel City Council voted 5-2 to give only a 2 percent pay increase to all elected officials except themselves. The council members gave themselves a 15 percent pay raise.
Pauley said she hopes the city doesn’t wait until the holidays to introduce the elected official salary ordinance since it should be debated fully and receive public attention.
“While the law states the civilian salary ordinance must be done simultaneously with budget approval by Nov. 2, the law is silent as to the four elected officials salary ordinance,” Pauley said. “Traditionally, all city salary ordinances have been approved at time of budget approval since funding for salary increases are tied financially together. Let’s have the discussion now. The clerk treasurer along with city council and city judge are asking for a modest yet generous 3 percent cost of living increase.”