After a year of fighting about repaving streets in 2014, Carmel leaders say the road repair budget looks strong for 2015.
The Carmel City Council approved a $4 million budget amount for road repaving in 2015 and then waited to see if Indiana’s Department of Local Government Finance would make any cuts.
That $4 million for salt and repaving was confirmed by Mayor Jim Brainard and council e-mails, but the money broken up into different budget line items.
The 2015 budget proposed $15,260,974 in the Motor Vehicle Highway Fund and $1,092,183 in the local roads and streets budget. There were no DLGF cuts to MVHF but the department did cut $172,817 from local roads and streets, which is something that regularly happens if the state government doesn’t predict as much revenue as the city does.
City Councilor Luci Snyder said it is expected that Brainard – who is the chief executive in charge of the budget – will replace the DLGF cuts later this year. He will either do that by using additional revenue that wasn’t anticipated by DLGF or by making cuts to other departments. Snyder said she wants to keep an eye on that.
“He (Brainard) is the chief executive and should be making those decisions,” Snyder writes in an e-mail. “However, since we discovered that for several years the money was not replaced, we will now be watching carefully.”
City Councilor Rick Sharp said that he thinks 2015 looks good for road repaving and Brainard agrees, but there’s some disagreement about whether it’s always been good.
“The road budget really is fine,” Brainard said. “Actually it’s so good that we skipped a year in the recession.”
In 2006 to 2010, Brainard consistently budgeted for about $2 to $3 million a year for road repairs, but that number dropped to essentially zero in 2011 and less than $100,000 in 2012. In 2011, the city opted to spend $4 million to redo the new annexed roads from Southwest Clay, leaving little for the rest of the city.
In 2014, the City Council voted to move $700,000 in money from the city’s rainy day fund to increase the year’s city roads budget to $3.3 million. Brainard said he was told to cut money from the roads budget with the understanding that it was always going to be restored. Sharp claims that Brainard underfunded the roads budget that year without council input.
Brainard said a rough winter last year caused some potholes that needed to be filled, but that the city was able to successfully fill them all.
“It’s not bad now,” he said. “We were actually hoping to get Range Line and City Center Drive done this fall, but the contractor didn’t get that done in time. So those roads need some help. But we’ll get that first thing in the spring.”
Sharp said he didn’t think last year’s winter contributed to holes in the road, because he said potholes are causing a cycle of freezes and thaws.
Brainard said 2014 ended well since there wasn’t much snow in October to December. He said any savings from a mild winter can go to repaving streets.