Mayor’s $217M bond proposal, tax increase one of first items to go before new city council

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Having won a sixth term for mayor of Carmel, Jim Brainard said he was going to have big plans for 2016 – especially considering he will have a new City Council that is expected to support him.

By any measure, Brainard’s plans are big. $217 million big.

At the first City Council meeting of 2016, the mayor will introduce a plan to fund various road projects, drainage improvements and new roundabouts by taking out $217 million in bonds. He is also proposing a tax increase to help pay for them.

One of the biggest projects on the list is transforming the 96th Street and Keystone Avenue intersection into a roundabout, a project that recently missed out on federal funding.

The City of Carmel will finish its 100th roundabout around the beginning of 2016, but the project list includes plans for more than 30 more. It also includes widening part of Hazel Dell Parkway, creating a Monon Boulevard, reconstructing part of Guilford Road and 126th Street and undercover relocation of some power lines. Range Line Road would be extended to the Lowes Way connector.

The city will acquire land for a City Center hotel, improve landscaping for roundabouts and resurface streets in Southwest Clay. The city will also focus on improving drainage to prevent flooding, and Brainard has promised that money from the city’s Storm Water fee will only go toward drainage.

Brainard said some of the projects will be paid for using the County Option Income Tax. Some will be paid for by a new Storm Water fee that the previous council approved. Some will be paid for by the various redevelopment funds. And some will be paid for by new property taxes that would need to be approved.

The mayor said the tax increase would be about $22 for a $200,000 home. Many homeowners are already at the property tax cap if their home is valued at more than $345,000 and won’t be affected.

Brainard said these project costs do exceed his expected tax revenue but that the city will apply for state and federal funding and will cut back on the projects if funding doesn’t come through.

Three city councilors who often disagreed with the mayor on financial matters have been voted out of office and replaced with mayor-backed candidates. In all, Brainard saw six of his seven endorsed candidates win their elections, so he feels he has the backing for swift action in 2016.

“I’m asking that the council move on this very quickly,” he said. “Keep in mind that there’s interest rate volatility right now. We want to get this to market before the rates go up.”

Rick Sharp, who served as city council president and ran unsuccessfully for mayor, said he’s not surprised by the list of proposed projects and tax increase.

“This is what I was warning people about,” he said. “There’s no way to do everything he wants to do without raising taxes. Yet the mayor told everyone that I was just trying to scare people.”

Brainard said he’s just giving the voters what they want, but Sharp doesn’t believe that’s necessarily a good strategy.

“Every parent will tell you that you can’t grant every wish, and you at times need to be prudent,” Sharp said.

Sharp said he thinks the 96th and Keystone roundabout interchange project will cost half of the $217 million alone.

Luci Snyder, who also lost a bid for reelection, said she’ll leave it up to the next council to decide if it’s too much money, but she did have a suggestion for spending priorities.

“The 96th and Keystone roundabout should be the first thing you do, and then any other roundabouts are gravy,” she said. “There are some places where you need roundabouts and other places where they don’t work.”

Brainard said there’s no way to start these projects without borrowing money.

“(Without a bond) we’d probably never get to most of them,” Brainard said. “The way state law is set up you aren’t allowed to save up enough to tackle many capital projects. It’s not the way our tax structure is set up in Indiana. If you want to do major road projects this is how you have to do it.”

 LIST OF PROJECTS

ROUNDABOUTS

  • 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
  • Harrowgate
  • Ironwood
  • Jordan Woodlands
  • Village of Mount Carmel
  • Wilson Village
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