Carmel elected officials could award themselves significant pay raises that would start next year.
Under the salary ordinance that will be introduced at the Carmel City Council meeting on Monday, Mayor Jim Brainard would receive a 40 percent salary increase and Judge Brian Poindexter would receive a 20 percent salary increase, while council members would see a 28 percent hike in salaries.
Brainard’s salary this year is $127,946. His proposed 2017 salary would rise to $179,344.
Poindexter’s current salary is $120,978, and that could jump to $145,919 next year.
The salary for council members would increase from $17,246 to $22,167.
The higher salaries are a result of a citywide review recently conducted that compared compensation of Carmel employees to government workers in other Indiana cities and out-of-state communities.
Carmel spokeswoman Melanie Lentz issued a written statement Thursday arguing in support of a higher salary for Brainard, saying during his 20-year tenure, he’s had opportunities to leave for positions in the private sector or other higher-paying jobs. Lentz referenced Brainard’s consideration of running for the 5th Congressional District earlier this year, and said his new salary is more comparable to a U.S. Representative, a job that pays $174,000.
The 5th District seat, which includes Carmel, temporarily became open when U.S. Rep. Susan Brooks attempted to fill the vacancy created when Gov. Mike Pence became the vice presidential candidate.
When the council discussed specific departmental budgets during two days of hearings earlier this month, director of administration Steve Engelking said the mayor’s budget “has a significant increase,” but it was mostly due to several arts funds being moved into that department from the City Council’s budget.
Engelking did mention that personnel costs also contributed to the increase, but did not offer specifics.
The council gave the mayor’s budget preliminary approval during those meetings.
“We feel it is appropriate to compensate this position—and others in the city—at a level where we can keep the kinds of people who have played a key role 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.,” Lentz said in the prepared statement.
The only elected official not receiving a double-digit percentage raise would be clerk-treasurer Christine Pauley. Her 2016 salary is $104,656 and the proposed 2017 salary is $106,749, which would be a 2 percent increase.
Pauley was questioned during budget hearings by one city council member about her time spent out of the office.
“We have found that a lot of time is spent out of the office, rather than in the office,” council member Kevin Rider said. “It’s a full-time job.”
Pauley said she is in the office when she needs to be and is always available to her staff, even when she is on vacation.
“I beg to differ that you can sit there and accuse me of misappropriating my time as an elected official,” Pauley said.
Carmel officials wouldn't be the first to vote themselves a pay hike this year. The Fishers Town Council this month approved a 58-percent raise for its members starting next year.
Correction: This story has been corrected to reflect that Judge Brian Poindexter would receive a 20 percent salary increase, raising his pay from $120,978 to $145,919 next year.