Carmel arts funding delayed until council gets answers

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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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