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Local government officials in Carmel, Indiana have great affection for two things:

  1. Round-a-bouts.
  2. Spending taxpayer dollars to build more round-a-bouts.

Carmel currently boasts a generous selection of 140 round-a-bouts for your enjoyment with more to come, according to the New York Times.

How much money has Carmel, Indiana spent to construct and maintain their glorious round-a-bouts? It depends. Are we including the cost of replacing Mayor Brainard’s car whenever he totals it in one of the city’s beloved circles of fun?

The primary benefit of round-a-bouts is that they dramatically reduce severe crashes, resulting in 90% fewer fatalities regardless of vaccination status. Of course, you can’t just replace a traffic signal with a circle and expect to achieve those rates – you must also ‘beautify’ those round-a-bouts to ensure motorists such as Mayor Brainard notice them and reduce their speed accordingly. Otherwise…

Did anyone else hear a dixie horn?

Now, no one wants to see Mayor Brainard pulling a ‘Dukes of Hazzard,’ so the city puts glorious, eye-catching, artistic sculptures in the middle of its round-a-bouts to reduce the likelihood of a “Brainard Takes Flight” headlines.

The city’s latest commission of four round-a-bout sculptures pays homage to the Hoosier state’s automotive heritage for a bargain price of $2.5 million.

The sculptures will feature artistic interpretations of the classic cars Marmon, Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg, Stutz, and Studebaker – each of which was built in the state of Indiana in the early 20th century.

Spending wads of taxpayer dollars to build pretty things that may or may not be economically viable projects is what Carmel does. One of the ways they accomplish these infrastructure projects is through the abuse of Tax Increment Financing (TIFs). 

When utilized properly, TIFs stimulate private investment in a blighted or undeveloped area, which results in increased tax revenue in the future. However, Carmel frequently utilizes TIFs to build things that look pretty but have little to no revenue benefit – pretty sculptures in the middle of round-a-bouts, for example.

TIFs are a little complex and difficult to understand. Fortunately, the revered and humble former public servant Rob Kendall is here to provide you with an education on the matter.