The Carmel City Council on Oct. 16 unanimously approved the 2024 budget and a resolution capping the property tax rate at its current level.
With a new mayor set to take office in January 2024, the nearly $209 million budget is similar to the one approved for 2023. It includes a 3 percent cost-of-living adjustment for city employees and funds to hire five additional police officers.
The 2024 budget is the final one proposed by Mayor Jim Brainard, who will leave office Dec. 31 when his seventh term comes to an end.
Councilor Adam Aasen described the 2024 budget as “strong” and said it “starts a good path for our next mayor.”
“My hope is that going forward with the next administration, our priority will be on funding needs before wants,” Aasen said. “This is a budget that doesn’t start any new initiatives or projects. I think this is an appropriate budget heading into the next administration.”
The only amendment the council made to the proposed budget was to remove $100,000 to open a second All Things Carmel store in the Carmel Clay History Museum, which is under construction at Monon Boulevard and 1st St. SW.
Councilor Tim Hannon proposed the amendment. He said he would like the next administration to review the finances and operations of the existing All Things Carmel store on Main Street before the city commits to providing funds for another location.
Later in the meeting, the council approved a resolution directing the Department of Local Government Finance, which reviews municipal budgets and sets tax rates accordingly, to not set a tax rate higher than the existing rate of 78.77 cents per $100 of assessed property value.
The resolution as proposed also authorized an appeal to the DGLF to increase the city’s property tax levy, or the amount of taxes it is permitted to collect, to cover a shortfall in projected local income tax dollars caused by a state law diverting some of the funds Carmel expected to receive to Fishers through 2026.
Curt Coonrod, a financial consultant for the City of Carmel, said the appeal, if approved by the DLGF, could lead to the city’s tax rate rising above the current rate. The council amended the resolution to direct the DLGF to not raise the city’s rate beyond 78.77 cents per $100 of assessed property value even if the appeal is approved.
In July, the City of Carmel sued the DLGF, state auditor and Indiana Department of Revenue over the law diverting LIT funds to Fishers. The lawsuit states that Carmel estimates it will lose nearly $40 million in income tax revenue between 2024 and 2026. The matter is pending in a Marion County court.