How does the annual city budget come together?

Most residents don’t seem to hear about the annual city budget until it comes before the City Council in the fall. But the truth is, the development of the budget is something that begins in the spring when city department heads start to think about what they need in terms of financial support for the next year.

Here is a timeline for how it has worked in 2020 … but you should take note that a few of the early dates were postponed due to the COVID-19 shutdown in mid-March.


June 19
The Mayor issues some general guidance to department directors on what he sees as his priorities for the next year.

July 10
Each department must draft proposed budgets and present them to the Mayor’s office for review.

July 24
The Mayor approves each department budget.

City Councilors divide into pairs and sit down for face-to-face meetings with each department head in order to review in detail their proposed budgets for the following year.

September 4
Councilors complete their preliminary meetings and review of department budgets.


September 10
First budget workshop session is held in Council chambers, featuring department heads presenting their budgets to the full council and answering questions. These hearings are open to the public and were broadcast on Carmel TV. Here is a link.

September 17
Second budget workshop session is held. Here is that link.

September 21
Public notice is issued through newspapers to advertise the upcoming public hearing on the proposed budget.

October 5
Mayor Jim Brainard proposes the budget to the Carmel City Council, followed by an open public hearing for residents to express their thoughts. The City Council begins deliberation on the budget and adopts a resolution to set the local property tax rate.

October 19
The 2021 Budget is approved by Council meeting the Nov. 2 deadline.

November 9
Budget must be posted on Indiana Gateway by this date.


Authored by Laura Campbell, Sue Finkam, Kevin Rider, Jeff Worrell, Tim Hannon, Bruce Kimball, Miles Nelson, Anthony Green and Adam Aasen.