The Carmel City Council held a workshop Sept. 10 to discuss the proposed 2020 budget. A second workshop is set for 8 a.m. Sept. 17 to continue the discussions.
The proposed budget includes a 3 percent cost of living adjustment for city employees. Mayor Jim Brainard said the city’s tax rate should stay the same or decrease.
The council reviewed budget proposals from several city departments. The following are highlights.
Carmel Police Dept.
The Carmel Police Dept. is planning to hire three new officers in 2020. This does not include new school resource officers that would need to be hired if Carmel Clay Schools’ school safety referendum is approved in November.
Councilor Tony Green said he’d like to see CPD continue to add officers to help increase the police presence along the 96th Street and Michigan Road corridors. CPD Chief Jim Barlow said the department has 1.2 officers for every 1,000 residents, but Green would like to see that number at 1.6 or higher.
Councilor Ron Carter requested a police officer or retired police officer be stationed in the Carmel City Hall lobby during regular business hours to increase building security. Recently the city began restricting access to the third floor, which includes the mayor’s office and legal team, but the first and second floors are open to the public.
“I think it’s problematic for us if something would happen for the third floor to be locked off but nobody on the first or second floor is protected,” Carter said. “I don’t think that’s an appropriate way to look at security.”
Brainard said that most offices on the first two floors have keypad locks on their doors. He said he wants to avoid installing metal detectors for the general public and that stationing an officer at City Hall would be a “good step” toward improving security.
Carmel Redevelopment Commission
Carmel Redevelopment Commission Director Henry Mestetsky is requesting a $153,000 increase to his department’s budget mainly to support the hiring of an additional employee.
Mestetsky said he wants to hire a project manager with a background in architecture and interior design. The city had been using consultant Les Olds to fill much of this role, but Olds died in May in an accident at his home.
Mestetsky said he and his three staff members are swamped with managing ongoing projects and that having another employee would allow him and the CRC deputy director to focus on promoting Carmel to developers and work on big picture planning
Brookshire Golf Club
After the recent opening of the new clubhouse at Brookshire Golf Course, general manager Bob Higgins is requesting an additional employee to help manage the workload.
Higgins doesn’t expect the hire to have a big impact on the budget, as he would spend less money on part-time employees. He also expects savings once the club contracts with a vendor to operate food and beverage services onsite, a pending deal that is working through “final details.”
Higgins is requesting a $10,000 increase in funding for furniture and fixtures to pay for golf simulators to attract more people to the clubhouse in the winter. Additional funds are also being sought to upgrade golf cart paths.
Information and Communications
The Information and Communications Dept. budget is proposed to increase 27 percent, with modernization initiatives responsible for much of the increase.
The proposed budget includes an additional $24,800 for AV equipment maintenance contracts at Center Green and Midtown Plaza. It also adds $591,000 to cover rising costs in using the Hamilton County 911 communications center. Some of the jump is a result of Home Place being annexed into Carmel.