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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    1. to mention the rest of Molly's experience- she served as Communications Director for the Indianapolis Department of Public Works and also did communications for the state. She's incredibly qualified for this role and has a real love for Indianapolis and Indiana. Best of luck to her!

    2. Shall we not demand the same scrutiny for law schools, med schools, heaven forbid, business schools, etc.? How many law school grads are servers? How many business start ups fail and how many business grads get low paying jobs because there are so few high paying positions available? Why does our legislature continue to demean public schools and give taxpayer dollars to charters and private schools, ($171 million last year), rather than investing in our community schools? We are on a course of disaster regarding our public school attitudes unless we change our thinking in a short time.

    3. I agree with the other reader's comment about the chunky tomato soup. I found myself wanting a breadstick to dip into it. It tasted more like a marinara sauce; I couldn't eat it as a soup. In general, I liked the place... but doubt that I'll frequent it once the novelty wears off.

    4. The Indiana toll road used to have some of the cleanest bathrooms you could find on the road. After the lease they went downhill quickly. While not the grossest you'll see, they hover a bit below average. Am not sure if this is indicative of the entire deal or merely a portion of it. But the goals of anyone taking over the lease will always be at odds. The fewer repairs they make, the more money they earn since they have a virtual monopoly on travel from Cleveland to Chicago. So they only comply to satisfy the rules. It's hard to hand public works over to private enterprise. The incentives are misaligned. In true competition, you'd have multiple roads, each build by different companies motivated to make theirs more attractive. Working to attract customers is very different than working to maximize profit on people who have no choice but to choose your road. Of course, we all know two roads would be even more ridiculous.

    5. The State is in a perfect position. The consortium overpaid for leasing the toll road. Good for the State. The money they paid is being used across the State to upgrade roads and bridges and employ people at at time most of the country is scrambling to fund basic repairs. Good for the State. Indiana taxpayers are no longer subsidizing the toll roads to the tune of millions a year as we had for the last 20 years because the legislature did not have the guts to raise tolls. Good for the State. If the consortium fails, they either find another operator, acceptable to the State, to buy them out or the road gets turned back over to the State and we keep the Billions. Good for the State. Pat Bauer is no longer the Majority or Minority Leader of the House. Good for the State. Anyway you look at this, the State received billions of dollars for an assett the taxpayers were subsidizing, the State does not have to pay to maintain the road for 70 years. I am having trouble seeing the downside.

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