Carmel City Council postponed approval of the city’s annual arts grant program Monday amid questions about “perceived gaps” in the municipal budget.
“The funding discussion deserves to be done in public,” Councilor Rick Sharp said, referring to a flurry of emails he and other members received over the weekend assuring them that the money is available.
Financial consultant Curt Coonrod assured the council that the city’s spending plan has not changed since it passed in October, but acknowledged officials still need to take a procedural step to finalize the budget.
More than a dozen local arts organizations are slated to receive funding from the 10-year-old city program in 2014. The city sets aside 1 percent of its general fund budget for the grants each year.
“The problem is, we don’t know what the general fund is,” said council Finance Committee Chairwoman Luci Snyder.
Coonrod and the clerk-treasurer’s office gave the council different numbers, she said—and neither is high enough to support the $681,400 in grants Mayor Jim Brainard has proposed. Brainard was traveling Monday, so he couldn’t offer an explanation.
Still, Snyder said she’s confident the issue can be resolved quickly.
“Last year or the year before, we made a mess of this thing and it dragged on far too long,” she said. “But it’s really important that we sit down and make sure we’re all on the same page.”
The council delayed $700,000 in arts grants for months last year. Snyder later proposed a change in the way the grants are administered, but dropped the initiative when it became clear it lacked support.
Brainard accepts applications from the city’s Support for the Arts Fund each year and submits his grant recommendations to the council for approval. Since 2004, more than $6.8 million has been awarded.
“These organizations are worthy of public support, which we view as an economic development tool for the city,” he said in a prepared statement.
Here’s a look at the organizations set to receive funding this year:
— Carmel Symphony Orchestra, $205,000
— Booth Tarkington Civic Theatre, $200,000
— Actors Theatre of Indiana, $110,000
— Gregory Hancock Dance Theatre, $45,000
— Indiana Ballet Conservatory, $20,000
— Carmel Community Players, $15,000
— International Talent Academy, $15,000
— Carmel Arts Council, $14,900
— Museum of Miniature Houses, $13,500
— Central Indiana Dance Ensemble, $12,000
— Indiana Wind Symphony, $12,000
— Indianapolis Symphonic Choir, $12,000
— Indianapolis Children's Choir, $4,000
— Young Voices Inspire, $3,000