Carmel mayor defends decision to ask for 40 percent raise

CARMEL, Ind. (WISH) – As Carmel continues to grow, with homes, businesses and roads, there’s a different increase that has people talking, the mayor’s raise proposal.

After conducting a salary study, Carmel’s mayor is proposing big raises, including giving himself a $51,398 increase.

“He does a great job, but I think the community and people in the community might benefit from it better,” Carmel resident Jodi Friedman said.

“I’ve been here for 20 years and I can’t imagine that deserves a better raise than that,” Carmel resident Don Seal said. “He does about everything I can think of.”

“The mayor generally has done a good job for the city of Carmel, and he deserves to be paid appropriately, but I think that the size of this increase is simply not justified,” Carmel resident Bruce Polizotto said.

It’s part of Mayor Jim Brainard’s 2017 budget proposal. If passed, he would be by far the highest paid mayor in Hamilton County.

He would also make more than a US senator, Indiana governor and Indianapolis mayor.

Mayor Brainard asking for a raise is nothing new.

In fact, his previous three proposals included increases. This year, it’s about $50,000, but previous three proposals, he asked for $3,000.

He wouldn’t be the only elected official to see an increase. City council members would get $5,423 more a year.

He would also bump pay for city employees, including the police and fire chief. Right now, each makes $116,619, but his proposal increases it to $145,912.

The numbers stem from a salary study. It’s the first time the city conducted one in a decade. The city said the study shows the increased numbers would match similar cities. But some aren’t sold.

“Make sure your house is in order on your fundamentals before you increase your own salaries,” Polizotto said.

Council will meet Monday night. The council president expects the budget to pass.

Mayor Brainard wasn’t available for an interview, but the city sent a statement on the proposals.

We feel it is appropriate to compensate our department heads and others at a level where we can retain the employees who have played key roles in Carmel’s tremendous success in economic growth and job creation and continue to build Carmel into one of the best places to live, work and raise a family in the U.S. Also note: The city’s tax rate was not raised in order to provide additional salary compensation. In fact, the tax rate is projected to decline in 2017.”