By Ann Marie Shambaugh
A Carmel City Council committee voted to recommend a 2 percent raise for all elected officials, a much smaller increase than originally proposed.
The Carmel Finance, Utilities and Rules Committee met Oct. 10 to discuss a proposed salary ordinance that included a $50,000 raise for the mayor, a 40 percent increase, and 28 percent pay increases for city councilors.
Each of the six council members present at the meeting said they could not support the raises as presented.
“We got elected knowing what we make,” councilor Kevin “Woody” Rider said. “I didn’t do it for the money. If we’re going to claim that some raises are excessive, we have to include ourselves in that.”
Several councilors spoke highly of Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard and his accomplishments, but said they could not justify a 40 percent jump in pay.
“Not only did (the proposed mayoral raise) strike a chord with residents, but it was just too much, too fast, too soon,” Councilor Jeff Worrell said. “I would go to the mat for the mayor. I think has done a fabulous job, but that much money for even ardent supporters is just too much.”
Councilors also hesitated to make large increases in pay for elected officials because state law prohibits their salaries from being lowered once approved.
“If (the mayor) leaves, the person we would get (appointed) would not have 20 years of experience, would not have a passion for the city like he does,” Council President Ron Carter said.
After discussion, the three councilors on the committee voted to recommend a 2 percent increase to cover cost of living adjustments, which is the proposed minimum raise for all city employees for 2017.
The Carmel City Council will discuss the ordinance at an upcoming meeting. Its next scheduled meeting is Oct. 17.