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Carmel, Indiana City Government Structure

In Indiana, government structures mirror the federal and state levels with the executive, judicial and legislative branches. In Carmel, the executive branch is the Mayor, who manages the daily operations of the city. He is elected to a four-year term.

The judicial branch is the City Judge who oversees the City Court located in City Hall. The Carmel City Court is a court of limited jurisdiction, where traffic infractions, ordinance violations and criminal misdemeanor cases are heard and decided. The judge is elected to a four-year term.

The legislative branch is comprised of the nine-member City Council. Three members serve at large and the other six represent various districts of the city. The council is elected to four-year terms and all share the same election cycle along with the Mayor, Judge and Clerk of the City.

In addition, Indiana designated cities as first, second and third class cities based on population and governing structure. Carmel is designated as a second class city in Indiana and therefore has an elected Clerk of the City, who is also elected to four-year terms.

spring City Hall, Carmel

What it Means to be a City in Indiana

While the words “city” and “town” are used interchangeably in everyday conversation, they have specific legal meaning when applied to Indiana municipal governments (the word “municipality” applies to both cities and towns). The major structural difference between city and town government is the existence of separate Executive (Mayor) and Legislative (Council) branches within city government.

Every city in the state has an elected mayor and an elected common council, except for Indianapolis. Indianapolis has a 29-member city-county council. In addition to Mayor and elected Council, the city of Carmel also has an elected Clerk of the City and City Judge. Carmel’s city council has seven members, two at large and five that represent districts.

Cities are authorized to establish any executive departments which they consider necessary to “efficiently perform the administrative functions that will fulfill the needs of their citizens” (IC 36-4-9-4).

The City of Carmel includes the following departments:


Elected Officials


"The government of cities is divided between the mayor and the common city council. In Indiana, the mayor exercises the executive authority of the city (IC 36-4-4-3) and is primarily concerned with the overall day-to-day operation. The executive authority is often exercised through the board of works, city departments and the head of those departments. The common city council exercises the city legislative authority (IC 36-4-4-4), makes laws that govern the city and appropriates the cities monies.
The mayor serves for a term of four years; there are no term limits on this office position. A person is eligible to serve as mayor if they were a resident in the city for one year prior to the election (IC 3-1-8-26). If the mayor ceases to be a resident of the city, they forfeit their position (IC 36-4-5-2)."

City Council

“The common council is both the city’s legislative body and its fiscal body. Members of the council are part-time elected officials who serve for a term of four years; they are not subject to term limits and may run for re-election as often as they wish. As individual council members, they do not possess significant statutory powers. As the city’s legislative body, however, the council exercises many of the powers given cities through the passage of ordinances and appropriation of monies (IC 36-4-6-18).
The council fixes the annual salaries of all elected officials of the city, which may not be changed in the year for which they are fixed, or reduced below the previous year’s level (IC 36-4-7-2). The council also establishes the annual salaries of members of the city’s police and fire departments (IC 36-8-3-3). It has authority to reduce but not to increase, any other items in the city budget as submitted by the mayor for its approval (IC 36-4-7-7). A council member must have been a resident of the district from which he or she is elected, if any, for at least six months before election, and must have been a resident of the city for at least one year before the election (IC 3-8-1-27). If the council member ceases to be a resident of the city or a resident of the district from which they are elected, they forfeit his or her office (IC 36-4-6-2).”

Clerk of the City

The City Clerk is elected to a four-year term and serves as the repository for all City records, including but not limited to ordinances, resolutions, executive orders and public notices. The Clerk facilitates all City Council and Board of Public Works meetings by preparing agendas, recording proceedings and maintaining custody of all records. The Clerk also serves as the clerk for Carmel City Court, including collecting and processing payments of fines and court costs, overseeing daily operation of the court office, balancing and reconciling daily receipts and preparing periodic court expenditure and revenue reports for the Indiana State Court Administrator. The Clerk also maintains and updates the City’s Laserfiche web link which provides public access to City records.

Other Government Links: