CARMEL, Ind. (Jan. 4, 2015) -- A rebooted Carmel city council wasted no time at its first meeting, approving tax increases and dozens of new projects across the city.
Three new members joined the council, all of whom had the backing of Mayor Jim Brainard in the latest election. Members who had previously fought Brainard on the city's spending are no longer on the council.
"There’s a sense of working as allies that we have not had, for the most part, for the last two decades," council president Ron Carter (R) said.
Carter, a longtime council member who was elected President at Monday's meeting, told FOX59 that he is confident the city has the funds to take on so many new projects at once.
"There is the ability from a financial standpoint and from a staffing standpoint to get this amount of work done. ... Many of these things have been in the works for over 10 years but couldn’t get through the past councils," Carter said.
Not every resident was on board, though, with some raising questions at the meeting.
"I would say that two million dollars to replace a functioning traffic light (with a roundabout) is excessive even for the city of Carmel," one resident said.
"I would ask you to seriously consider the funding, exactly how is it going to affect people," another resident said.
Despite those concerns, the council voted to increase both property taxes and water, sewer, and stormwater fees. Brainard has said that a $200,000 home would take on around $22 per year in new property taxes. Water bills will go up depending on usage.
Brainard presented comparisons to the council, showing that Carmel's property taxes and water bills will stay lower than surrounding communities.
Dozens of other fees for city services and businesses will also go up. In addition, the council added a cost-of-living increase of up to 3% per year, meaning fees and taxes will continue to increase each year until a future council amends the codes.
"We’re competing with cities across the country, places that have good weather and mountains and oceans and I believe it’s important that we continue to grow," Brainard said.
A growth that, it appears, the new council will be approving in the years to come.
"I think ... one of the things that we don’t do well enough as elected officials is make sure that people understand that they are getting good value for the money that they are paying to be a citizen of (Carmel)," Carter said.
The council also voted to move the city from a third class to a second class city. That means that in the next election, voters will choose two additional city councilors and a clerk. The clerk-treasurer position will be removed and the Mayor will instead appoint a controller to handle city finances.
Projects included in the proposals (some contingent on federal funding and planning):
- 96th and Delegates Row Roundabout
- 96th and Gray Road Roundabout
- 96th and Hazel Dell Parkway Roundabout
- 136th and Carey Road Roundabout
- Carey Road and Hawthorne Drive Roundabout
- Carmel Drive and City Center Roundabout
- Guilford Road and Carmel Drive Roundabout
- Guilford Road and City Center Roundabout
- Pennsylvania Street and City Center Roundabout
- 116th and Range Line Road Roundabout
- Range Line Road and Executive Drive Roundabout
- 106th and Towne Road Roundabout
- 96th and Priority Way Roundabout
- 116th and Gray Roundabout
- 116th and Hazel Dell Parkway Roundabout
- Carmel Drive and Old Meridian Roundabout
- Carmel Drive and Range Line Road Roundabout
- 96th and Keystone Parkway adjacent roadway construction
- 96th and Keystone Parkway interchange
- 96th and Randall Drive Roundabout
- 111th and Range Line Road Roundabout
- 116th and College Avenue Roundabout
- 116th and AAA Way Roundabout
- AAA Way and Carmel Drive Roundabout
- 126th and Gray Roundabout
- 136th and Gray Roundabout
- 116th and Guilford Avenue Roundabout
- Gray Road and Main Street Roundabout
- Pennsylvania Street and Carmel Drive Roundabout
- Range Line Road and 4th Street Roundabout
- Range Line Road and City Center Drive Roundabout
- 116th and Towne Roundabout
Street and road projects
- Guilford Road reconstruction from City Center to Main Street
- 126th Street reconstruction from Hazel Dell to River Road
- 126th Street reconstruction from Range Line to Keystone
- Monon Boulevard construction from 2nd to Main Street
- 126th Street Path from Keystone to Hazel Dell
- Hazel Dell Parkway widening from Cherry Tree to 146th Street
- Keystone Way Construction to connect to AAA Way
- Monon Trail reconstruction from City Center to Main Street
- Various multi-use Path construction
- Range Line Road reconstruction from 136th Street to U.S. 31
- Range Line Road extension to Lowes Way connector
- Range Line Road streetscape with on-street parking
- Spring Mill Road improvements from 111th to Main Street
- Underground relocation of existing Duke Energy transmission lines from Carmel Drive to 2nd Street SW
- Landscaping and streetscape improvements to city roundabouts
- Land acquisition for redevelopment
- Resurfacing and multi-use path construction in SW Clay
- Land acquisition in Central Business District
- Land acquisition for future City Center hotel
- Various public infrastructure projects in Central Business District
Storm water infrastructure projects
- Foster Estates
- Monon Swale
- Old Town
- Range Line Road
- Various storm sewers
- Various small structure and culvert projects
- Various small structure placements
Subdivision drainage improvements
- Carmel Meadows
- Carmel View
- Cedar Pointe
- Concord Village
- Crooked Stick and Crooked Stick West
- Green Tea Estates
- Jordan Woodlands
- Village of Mount Carmel
- Wilson Village