Carmel arts funding delayed until council gets answers

April 16, 2013
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Public funding for arts organizations in Carmel is on hold until City Council members are satisfied with Mayor Jim Brainard’s plans to close a seven-figure budget shortfall.

The council on Monday tabled a resolution allocating $707,756 from the city’s Support for the Arts Fund to 15 area arts groups, citing uncertainty about the gap between budgeted spending and expected revenue.

Brainard has been working with an “outside accountant” to resolve the issue, council President Rick Sharp said, but the mayor hasn’t shared specifics—including the amount of the shortfall. Brainard, who is traveling on city business, did not attend the Monday evening meeting.

Sharp estimated the gap to be $1 million to $4 million. He acknowledged that the arts funding is included in the city’s budget, but said some adjustments will be necessary to balance the budget.

He likened the delay to a family’s decision to forgo entertainment when money is tight.

“Some days, you don’t go to the movies,” Sharp said.

Council Finance Committee Chairwoman Luci Snyder praised the decision to wait on the arts grants and a city request to transfer $1.2 million from a local roads fund to pay for long-overdue paving.

“We want to have a good discussion” about the $107 million budget, she said. “We’re not going to play fast and loose with these numbers.”

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  • The Future
    How quick thinks change. Just a few years ago councilor Sharp called the mayors job the CEO of the city. That job was to set the vision and manage the running of the city. Sharp also explained that the councils job was to approve a budget and create ordinances. The budget of $107 million has been set and approved. It would seem the best person to prioritize funding if there is a shortage is the mayor and not a very part time councilor. Comparing the arts to just a movie ticket shows the short sightness that seems to frame his leadership. I suspect if he was in Indy he would be suggesting the Colts or Pacers ought to take a year or two off.
    • Spot on
      I couldn't agree more with Bruce's comments. Mr. Sharp has a lot of nerve comparing the jobs and value of hundreds of employees of the arts organizations in Carmel whose existence rely so heavily on the mayor's well thought out allocation of these grants with a $10 ticket to see a movie. Talk about lack of vision. Not to mention how insulting such a comment is. I suppose if the funding is suspended and the organizations are forced to close their doors the residents of Carmel will wonder what to do with the complex of performance spaces they have paid for. It's time to stop playing politics with the institutions and amenities that make Carmel the new destination it is on track to become and assure the citizens of Carmel that their City Council has the interest of ALL their constituents and the city's cultural future in mind.

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