The Carmel City Council on Dec. 21 will review $125 million in new bonds proposed for an expansion of the police headquarters, road improvements and redevelopment projects. A final city council vote on the bonds is expected in February 2021.
Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard said Dec. 16 that the bonds are not expected to increase the city’s tax rate. The bonds will be backed by a special benefits tax, meaning property taxes could be used to repay them if other funding sources fall through. Brainard said the other payment sources, such as income tax receipts, will be sufficient to cover the bonds and that the special benefits tax provision was included to help the city get a lower interest rate.
The following is an overview of the proposed bonds.
The council is being asked to approve $40 million through two bonds to expand the Carmel Police Dept. headquarters, a project Brainard has been seeking since at least 2016, when he said he hoped construction would begin in 2018.
The city needs to purchase the adjacent Huntington Bank building to make room for the expansion, but that process caused the project to stall. The city resorted to filing an eminent domain case in May to obtain the property, offering $915,000. Brainard said the city and bank have reached a deal that will allow the project to move forward, although the matter is still listed as pending in the state’s online court system.
The expanded police headquarters will include many enhanced safety features and a permanent relocation of city court.
Brainard said the deal reached with Huntington allows it to remain in its building through April 2022 and that construction would likely start at that point. He said the bank is still in negotiations to find a new location in Carmel.
Officials and attorneys for Huntington Bank did not respond to requests for comment.
The $60 million bond proposed for road improvements will bring several upgrades to Home Place.
Brainard said the bond would pay for new roundabouts at 96th Street and College Avenue, 106th Street and College Avenue and 106th Street and Westfield Boulevard. Reconstruction of College Avenue between 96th and 106th Streets into a boulevard also is planned.
The bond also would cover improvements to Smoky Row Road between Range Line Road and Old Meridian Street. It is expected to improve traffic flow in the area where Old Town Company’s North End project will be developed.
It is less clear the specifics of what a $25 million bond proposed for redevelopment and economic development projects will fund.
According to the resolution, it will be used to cover “land acquisition, site preparation, other on-site improvements, road and utility infrastructure improvements, utility relocation, parking facilities and other local public improvements.”
Brainard said the city is in negotiations regarding several potential projects but declined to specify them.