5 more police officers, second All Things Carmel shop among proposals in 2024 Carmel budget


The Carmel City Council held workshops Sept. 21 and 22 to review the proposed 2024 budget and present questions, concerns and feedback to city department leaders. The proposed $208.8 million budget includes a 7 percent increase in the general fund, which covers most city services.

Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard, who leaves office at the end of the year after seven terms in office, said the proposed budget is a “fairly straightforward plan” that is similar to the one approved by the council for 2023.

Highlights include a 3 percent cost-of-living adjustment for city employees, technology upgrades, five additional police officers and a second All Things Carmel store planned for the Carmel Clay Historical Society museum.

The council is set to hold the first public hearing on the proposed budget Oct. 4.

Protecting a growing CPD force 

The Carmel Police Department is seeking a 9 percent increase from its 2023 budget – which was $32.4 million – to add five police officers and two civilian employees, increase funds available for overtime pay and purchase gear to protect officers from rifle cartridges.

Some of the personnel growth is related to the expansion of CPD’s headquarters, a project expected to be complete this fall. The increased overtime funds will help CPD staff a growing schedule of city events.

CPD Chief Jim Barlow is also proposing to spend $200,000 to purchase rifle plates, as he said officers’ current body armor isn’t designed to stop shots from firearms more powerful than a handgun.

“(Law enforcement locally and nationwide are) taking a lot of rifles off the streets, and these plates can be deployed quickly in certain situations and can stop rifle rounds,” Barlow said.

Promoting firefighter health

The Carmel Fire Department is requesting a 6 percent increase in its 2023 budget,  which was approved last year at $33.7 million.

The 2024 proposed budget includes adding ultrasounds as part of physical exams to help detect certain cancers that firefighters may be at higher risk of developing. CFD Chief David Haboush said the technology already helped diagnose cancer for one of the department’s employees.

“We were able to proactively catch that, and the firefighter is making a full recovery,” he said.

The budget also includes using the ambulance fund to purchase electronic stair chairs to reduce the risk of back injury for first responders transporting patients from above ground level.

Economic development

The Department of Community Relations and Economic Development is requesting a 9 percent increase in its budget, which was nearly $4.5 million in 2023, for efforts that include diversifying advertising of the city and its events, programming new Palladiscope shows, expanding Sister City partnerships and and providing inventory and staff for a new All Things Carmel shop at the Carmel Clay History Museum, which is under construction at Monon Boulevard and 1st St. SW.

A few councilors questioned the need for a second All Things Carmel store and requested more information about the success of the location on Main Street.

“Before we expand into a second location, I’d really like to understand some of the finances of the existing All Things Carmel store,” Councilor Adam Aasen said. “I’m hesitant to approve a new position like that with a new mayor coming in. A new mayor does not want to come in and let somebody go if this doesn’t align with their vision. Right now I’m pretty hesitant about adding a second manager for All Things Carmel.”

Department director Nancy Heck said she would prepare additional information for councilors on the city’s involvement with the store, which is run by the Promote Carmel nonprofit, and asked them to consider it as much more than a shop.

“The purpose of this entity isn’t to be a retail establishment and make money, it is to be our visitor center on Main Street,” Heck said. “We’re not just looking to sell shirts, we’re trying to help people get engaged in the community.”

Technology upgrades

The proposed budget includes adding 50 security cameras throughout public areas of the city, including some that use technology to scan license plates.

The city has approximately 450 cameras already, and Brainard said they have been helpful to local law enforcement.

“What we’re finding is it makes our police in particular much more effective,” Brainard said. “Some people will bring up privacy issues, but in a public area you’re in public. This is simply a tool to enhance what the police can do individually.”