The following opinion is expressed by one individual who is a guest contributing author. His opinions are not necessarily reflective of the Fiscal Conservatives of Hamilton County.
The cumulative debt in the City of Carmel is currently $1.3 billion dollars. A topic for many years, questions about debt began to arise as construction of the Palladium got underway. Originally, Mayor Brainard said the City would get a sponsor to help fund the project along with operating expenses. The Initial bond was not enough to cover the cost of construction. The City of Carmel continues to fund operating expenses.
Another project that went over initial estimates was Keystone Avenue. Involved in both the Palladium and Keystone projects, the Carmel Redevelopment Commission (CRC), has allowance for bond debt and may spend $25,000 without seeking approval from the Carmel City Council. The CRC was bailed out by the Council when financing and poor debt-management issues surfaced. With little oversight of funding under $25,000, they piecemeal projects with avoidance of the Council as the primary goal. Monthly meetings are held with short introductions and the rest held in executive sessions. Information on spending is very difficult to ascertain through documentation.
The Carmel Christkindlmarkt is another project where true costs and profit and loss statements are virtually impossible prove. The venue includes a skating rink and roughly 30 shops that sell food, beverages and goods.
Statues all over the City and seem to be added monthly and range in cost from $60,000 to $300,000 each.
TIF districts in Carmel fail to function as best practices are not in order. In my opinion, the current method of comingling TIF monies doesn’t work and I would prefer to see it used in the district in which it is collected.
The City, having recently purchased the Mohawk Shopping Center for $15 Million, may face a loss of $4 million dollars on investment. The argument that the City of Carmel will make better use of the space than a private developer is concerning.
Currently accepting bids to build a hotel with cost estimates of $40 million dollars, the City has been unable to attract any corporation that is willing to partner with it while allowing the City of Carmel to control the project.
About the Author: Matt Milam is a 24-year resident of Home Place in Carmel Indiana and served as President of Concerned Citizens for Home Place which lead the annexation fight for 13 years. In 2018 he ran for County Commissioner in the GOP primary and has recently announced his candidacy for Carmel City Council SW District.