As I perused through many of the 2013 projects offered by the Mayor, it struck me that the philosophy of the current Carmel government continues to pursue more individual goals by politicians rather than an emphasis on that which are more necessary and beneficial for the community. Surely many of the completed edifices, constructed in the last half dozen years, created, in my opinion, a chasm between those which were truly of direct benefit to the citizen taxpayers, and on the other hand the personal needs or desires for legacy entrenched in the psyche of elected officials.
Since 2005 Carmel has witnessed enormous structural growth combined with a sixty percent increase in population primarily as a result of forcible annexations. During that period, a concerted effort by the Mayor and his government, including support from the Common Council, has pursued policies to aggrandize the city have been executed irrespective of the long term ramifications of costs and viability. While it should be a given that taxpayer funds should be expended for the benefit of those who have tendered their hard earned money, such a conclusion cannot be justified based on the actual results of the growth scheme.
Apparently it was more important for the Mayor to build a performing arts palace, at a cost of two and one half times the initial projections, strictly with public funds, than to consider taxpayer beneficial matters such as community drainage and street lighting, upgrading neighborhoods with sidewalks, or ensuring that repair or widening road access that would be a priority for easier commuting. However, for example, it was more important for the Mayor to embark on an unabated quest to become the roundabout capital of the country at a borrowed cost, exceeding one hundred million dollars sans long term interest to date, rather than to pursue such construction only in troublesome interchanges in a reasonable and conservative manner.
Now the Mayor has come up with a new scheme of building a boutique hotel to be located near the existing Palladium structure. For years I lobbied to have a medium sized convention center located on the property, as well as a multi-purpose performing arts center rather than a single purpose facility. Had those projects been built then I could see an adjacent hotel built to accommodate out of town conventioneers utilizing that facility during scheduled meetings. None of that was effected giving no real reason for the hotel to be located in that complex especially with the Renaissance Hotel only a short commute away on Pennsylvania. This is just another frivolous unnecessary project which may once again require TIF expenditures.
Where Mayor Brainard has been predominately effective, in the past decade, is to limit transparency in his government as he pursued a liberal agenda of expansion while piling up a huge amount of debt. His current wish list appears to be a continuation of this path as has been the case even through the worst of the economic downturn beginning in late 2007. This is not only fiscally unsupportable, but could further exacerbate Carmel’s future bond ratings as well as current taxation levels. Citizens should be aware that inability to pay existing bond debt can stimulate a special benefit tax or an ad-valorem tax on all property. Such a situation could be economically devastating to the city, as well its citizens.
The Mayor has not been acting as the conservative that people are voting for, but principally as a liberal spender. This is contra to the premise, in electing him repeatedly, that Carmel is a solid bastion of Republican ideology. I am reminded of a quote by Alexander Hamilton, one of our country’s founders, who addressed the issue of lack of transparency in government by commenting, “a government continually at a distance and out of sight can hardly be expected to interest the sensations of the people.” Such appears to be the case in Carmel in the last decade, however such a scenario has not been treated realistically in the voting booth.
With an enormous debt on the books, as well as additional debt in focus for the instant projects, I would hope that the people of Carmel would rise up and rally for true conservatism and fiscally responsible leadership. The continued helter skelter quest of the Mayor to increase the indebtedness of the city, on the premise of strengthening Carmel, has more to do with an unabated method to attract more property taxation, to service the huge debt, whether of immediate necessity or not. This continued action is troublesome for the business community with potential overbearing competition, but also to the detriment of the populace in respect to issues of traffic, pollution, or excessive city noise.
In my opinion the city’s Mayor needs to finally pause the reckless spending, and deal with the current debt obligations before embarking on further grand scale projects that will increasingly squeeze revenue requirements. An easing of that burden to a rational level could then spawn further growth. It is about time for the Mayor and his Council be more concerned about the people, as well as the continued stability of the municipality, rather than uncontrollably pursuing a political legacy at the expense of the current and future citizen and business taxpayers.