You won’t see a press release from the City about Carmel’s Number 1 ranking in debt. Likewise, I doubt Money Magazine will put this number one ranking on its cover. I also doubt that the City Council, Redevelopment Commission and Mayor Brainard would like to admit that together they have created this number one debt ranking.
The State of Indiana Department of Local Government Finance released the Local Government Debt Report on Sept. 21, 2012. Carmel found itself Number 1 for civil cities with $895M in debt. This number equates to $11,303 of debt for every man, woman and child in our city. Compare that to the Consolidated City of Indianapolis which has a per capita debt of $2,286. Only four government entities in our state had a higher debt total; Marion County Health and Hospital, Indianapolis Consolidated City, Marion County Airport and Indianapolis Public Schools. You can review the report on line at http://www.in.gov/dlgf/files/120921_-_Local_Government_Debt_Report.pdf
At last Monday’s City Council meeting, Mayor Brainard refuted the report saying it just wasn’t so. This was kind of interesting since Carmel itself submitted the data that makes up the report. City Council President Rick Sharp responded that at least $200M of the debt was created without City Council approval. This report was being avoided like the plaque because no one wanted to admit to the fact that Carmel has too much debt. If things are going so great why can’t the Carmel Redevelopment Development Commission make its debt payments? If the Carmel Redevelopment Commission has enough revenue, why is a refinancing proposal sitting in front of the City Council that will require $190M to refinance $153M in debt? The package creates an additional debt of $37M to our already Number 1 debt level. It’s nice to have a lot of revenues but I doubt even the richest person in the world wants the distinction of having the most debt.
Psychologists say that the first step in resolving a problem is admitting that you have one. There did not seem to be too many admissions by our elected officials in the council chambers on Monday. Maybe our elected officials should use some of their government-provided health benefits to get some help. We want the best for our City.