Carmel City Council approves funding for Christkindl market
After Clerk-Treasurer Christine Pauley previously refused to sign a check for $220,000 for the new Carmel Christkindl market, the Carmel City Council added the topic to the June 19 agenda at the last minute and approved the funding for a second time. This time, the council approval included a budget that specifies how the money will be spent and as a result Pauley said she plans on signing the check.
It was added to the agenda unanimously 5-0 with two councilors absent, Jeff Worrell and Sue Finkam.
City Councilor Ron Carter had harsh words for Pauley for her refusal to allocate the $220,000 initially.
“What we did in our special meeting last week was appropriate, legal and should have been done at the time it was done because frankly our clerk-treasurer failed to do what was supposed to be done,” he said.
Pauley told Current after the meeting that she plans on approving the funding but she needed more information.
“I was performing my fiduciary responsibilities that I was elected to do as the City of Carmel Clerk Treasurer and before my signature is affixed to any claim submitted to my office, I will review and insure the invoice to be true, correct, that I have audited the claim in accordance with Indiana Code 5-11-10-1.6 and not be rushed in performing my statutory duties because officials authorized and the vendor incurred costs before the claim was fully vetted per state requirements,” Pauley read from a statement. “Two-and-a-half weeks is not unreasonable timeframe to review a quarter million dollar claim.”
Carter said he believes Pauley was proceeding in “furtherance of her quest for a higher office,” hinting that Pauley might want to run for another elected position down the road.
“The clerk-treasurer should not be running our business,” Carter said. “She should be taking care of her business in our office. She is, after all, our bookkeeper and that’s it.”
Pauley asked for council to censure Carter
Pauley disagreed with Carter’s statements and sent out an e-mail later the night of June 19 to ask that Carter be censured for his comments. She said she’s made no statements about running for higher office and she’s disappointed by Carter’s behavior.
Pauley wrote to Carter: “Your attempt tonight to publicly insult and denigrate the position of elected Clerk Treasurers affects not only myself but all those CT across the State of Indiana. Your continued bigoted contempt for this elected position based upon your years as a city council member is disappointing and an embarrassment. I would like to suggest you read the Indiana Code 36-4-10-4.5 and 5, titled ‘Fiscal Officer’ to educate yourself regarding the importance of the Clerk Treasurer’s role including the role as the Executive Director of a Bond Bank to a municipality. I would like to invite you to spend one full work week in my office shadowing to truly understand and appreciate the important work that is being done on behalf of the citizens of Carmel.”
To the rest of the City Council, Pauley asked that they censure Carter and require him to apologize at the next meeting.
“His remarks affected the moral of city employees especially the Clerk Treasurers’ office,” she stated.
Councilor Tony Green defended Pauley’s actions.
“I do agree with the fact that when an elected official has questions about something and starts using terms such as fiduciary responsibilities and financial concerns, it’s a moment to take a pause,” Green.
How the market began
The Christkindl market was originally conceived when Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard announced plans in October for an outdoor ice skating rink outside of The Palladium where the center green currently sits. Surrounding the rink would be booths for the Christkindl market, a traditional German marketplace where vendors would sell goods and treats such as handmade Christmas ornaments and hot chocolate.
Originally, it was unknown who would manage the Christkindl market and whether a board would be a government entity or a nonprofit organization similar to the Carmel Farmers Market. At first, Brainard appointed a 12-member board that included himself, three city councilors, two city employees and others. City spokesman Dan McFeely said it was an advisory committee that was important to help decide what the market could be.
Later, a three-member board was created with McFeely as president, along with Martin Baier, president of The International Center, and Karen Poyser, a Carmel resident and longtime supporter of the arts. It was decided to set up the Christkindl market committee as a nonprofit.
Brainard has said this is because a nonprofit is not subject to as many rules and regulations as government commissions. It wasn’t until April that attorneys hired by the City of Carmel began to research using a nonprofit entity to manage the market. Those attorneys billed the City more than $1,100 for their research.
Brainard said the City of Carmel is likely to give as much as $500,000 annually to the nonprofit and it will likely not raise money privately. The CEO of the Christkindl market, Maria Murphy, is scheduled to receive $110,000 annually for at least three years.
Pauley said that Brainard had suggested that Murphy could receive health benefits from the city even though she’s not a city employee or an elected official. Pauley said that has been tabled.
Vendors for the market have not been decided yet but McFeely said part of the goal is to have traditionally German vendors. He said locally-owned businesses will be encouraged to participate but German authenticity will be the top priority.
McFeely said much of the process is still being decided but he said meetings will be publicly noticed and the Christkindl market board will strive for transparency, especially since so much public money is being used. He said there will be additional revenue for the market from vendors but specifics haven’t been decided yet. He said he wouldn’t rule out corporate sponsors but they currently aren’t actively seeking sponsorships.