Home Place awaits timeline on annexation by Carmel

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In November, the City of Carmel reached a deal to annex Home Place after more than a decade of pushback. Now, Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard said his staff is working on a plan to incorporate the 1,017 square acres centered at 106th Street and College Avenue, but an official date hasn’t been set.

“We’re working on a proper plan,” Brainard said. “We have a year under state law to provide services. We’re working on a plan and we’ll start with code enforcement.”

Brainard said on Jan. 4 that a letter could be sent in about 30 days to Home Place residents to outline the plans.

For years, Home Place was part of Clay Township but not legally within Carmel city limits. The City of Carmel has been trying to annex the area because Brainard said it’s a burden on police, fire and other services to not have the area in the city limits.

Matt Milam, leader of the group Concerned Citizens for Home Place, said many Home Place residents didn’t want to be part of Carmel because of concerns about property taxes and debt, among other reasons.

Milam questions why a date hasn’t been set.

“People are kind of speculating,” he said. “We haven’t gotten anything in the mail. People are eager to know what’s going on and when it all might happen. After years of fighting with Home Place, why do they get the ability to annex us and then they put it on hold?”

Brainard said nothing is on hold and that Carmel doesn’t want to rush. He said that’s the way the city has handled all previous annexations.

“Each of our departments has a good relationship with their counterparts in the county, so we’ll make sure it’s a smooth transition,” he said.

Milam said he heard from reliable sources that Carmel can’t afford to provide services  such as police or snow removal. Brainard said the rumors aren’t true.

“The city has more than $35 million in the bank,” Brainard said. “We have the money to do it, but we take our time to phase it in so it’s seamless. It’s not a matter of money, it’s a matter of making sure it’s done properly, so if someone calls 911 we make sure someone shows up.”

As annexation proceeds, Brainard said Carmel will soon discuss the possibility of eliminating the township government because the city and township borders would be the same. As a result, Clay Township’s  three-member board would be disbanded and the township trustee position would be eliminated. The township had a $9.4 million budget for 2016, funded by township property taxes. There’s no timeline for such actions yet.

According to the City of Carmel, taxes aren’t expected to increase much for Home Place residents. The average tax increase for a home valued at $100,000 would be about $95 annually or about $8 a month. For a $200,000 home it would be $190 a year or about $16 a month.

When Home Place is annexed it will be included in the City of Carmel elections and in its City Council districts. The district lines were already planned and must have approximately the same population, so it’d be impossible for Home Place to be its own district. But it’s uncertain whether Home Place would be in one district or split into two or more. Currently, Home Place is in the Central District, which is represented by councilor Bruce Kimball. The district has seen a lot of population growth because of new apartments and condos in Carmel’s urban core, so it’s possible Kimball’s district could be split up.

No matter how the map is drawn, Milam said he plans to run or city government, likely for a seat on the Carmel City Council.

“I’m going to run,” he said. “I’m not sure what I’d run for yet.”

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