2017 TOP STORIES: Carmel’s debt grows as bond rating falls

Carmel’s spending spree continued this year as the city approved more debt—but stopped short of buying a carousel.

In September, the Carmel City Council approved two bond packages, which totaled $96 million, to fund street, path and infrastructure improvements, land acquisition and a high-end hotel at City Center.

The move means the northern suburb’s total debt load has increased about $400 million since the beginning of 2016.

The initial bond request had been for $101 million, but the City Council removed $5 million that had been earmarked to purchase an antique, hand-carved Centerville Carousel that operates at Centerville Island in Toronto.

Hundreds of residents signed a petition opposing funding for the carousel as well as $40 million earmarked for an Autograph Collection by Marriott hotel. But city council members opted to keep funding for the hotel.

Mayor Jim Brainard has argued that the spending is necessary to maintain the high quality of life that continues to attract residents and companies to the city of about 91,000.

But rating agency Standard & Poor’s downgraded the city’s credit rating by one notch after the new debt was added, saying the suburb is “vulnerable to unanticipated economic or operating swings.” Carmel’s rating is now AA, down from the second-highest rating of AA+.•

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