We were lucky.
Had not been for the tragedy at the Indiana State Fair, Delaware County may not be having this discussion. The grandstands are reported to be at least 60 years old…did anyone think it may be high time for replacement? At the very least, regular inspections of an aging structure should have been considered.
In October 2011, the grandstands WERE inspected. Major structural support problems were reported. Some of the wooden seating had deteriorated and the announcer’s booth was not attached to the metal structure. Instead was supported by wood planks.
December 1, 2011, the Muncie Star newspaper reported the grandstands had serious defects. Jim Mansfield, Fair Board president, estimated the cost of replacement to be $900,000.00. Apparently the decades old grandstand can’t be repaired.
How to fund it with a county that is cash-strapped? This is where it gets interesting.
Jane Lasater, Fair Board vice president, in a private meeting with Commissioner Todd Donati and others, brought up increasing the food and beverage tax. With a sunset clause, of course. At first, it was reported as Donati who suggested the tax increase. He quickly denied it and pointed to Lasater as the brainchild of the increase. Lasater cited Donati’s proposal for a combined animal shelter and a $3 million dollar bond for Muncie to reduce the Tuhey Pool debt.
If your head isn’t spinning yet, it should be. A quick note. Why would Donati even suggest a bond for Tuhey? The bond can be paid down or greatly reduced with the money the city has left in her budget. Shouldn’t President Donati be focusing on his responsibilities? One of which is the Delaware County Fair. It appears he has been a little lax in this area.
December 13th, 2011 County Council meeting saw some discussion on the funding of the grandstands.
Although no council member was able to confirm it, the food and beverage tax increase would need to go through the legislators and none were sure the increase would be acceptable. Jane said she spoke with two representatives while in Washington, D.C. Neither were willing to commit. Senator Lugar’s office wasn’t that accommodating and Brad Bookout said the county would be hard pressed to get a grant.
Ron Quakenbush said quite a bit of money was appropriated a few years ago and only repair was new seats. Lasater countered, Michael Denton had inspected the grandstands and the repairs were done based on his recommendations. This was about six years ago.
Lasater said there are only 21 volunteers on the Delaware County Fair Board and none have the time or the experience to fund raise. Therein lies one problem. A couple of simple requests for Band Day denied; a fee for the antique tractors; an increase in parking and you have a recipe for a decrease in attendance and far less revenue.
Not that doubling the parking cost was a poor idea, you do need some attractions that would offset the increase, though.
It’s no longer uncommon to take a tax guzzling entity and turn it into self-sustaining one . Case in point, Prairie Creek Reservoir. You just need the right people in place, someone who can think outside of “taxes” for creative ideas and sources.
Ron was looking like a cat that just ate the bird, when he made the comment…”The fair board is political.” Jane said it wasn’t. Quakenbush stated all the members were appointed by the commissioners. He went on to say when the commissioners took over from the Lion’s Club he predicted the fair would become political. I smiled just a little during the exchange, as Mr. Quakenbush was right on the money.
The County Commissioner’s took over the Delaware County Fair in 2001.
2002 was the year a last-minute switch for fire protection saw Center Township out and Muncie City in. It was also the first time Mayor Dan Canan donated to the fair. $10,000 of EDIT funds. Center Township Trustee, Dick Shirey was in the second year of fire protection after Muncie City handed him a bill for fire service. Nah, no politics there.
After Center Township made arrangements to staff and located extra equipment, Center Township’s Lt. Hackett spoke with fair board member Todd Donati and was told their services were not needed. In the past, the fair had been protected by volunteer fire departments. Center Township was free of charge.
‘We were disappointed,’ Hackett said. ‘I think it politicizes the fair.’
But, all that aside, I think the county is missing the point. Planning and preparing has not been one of their greatest strengths. The grandstands are the best argument to “be prepared”. The stands didn’t deteriorate overnight and no money was ever set aside for needful repairs, let alone any improvements.
Now, we are in crisis mode, yet again. We don’t have any money and a fair board lacking in time and experience to raise money.
Time is running out and from the county council meeting, an increase in Food and Beverage tax is highly unlikely to succeed. Maybe it’s time to tap into the rainy day funds. Or a bond? Perhaps Mayor Elect Dennis Tyler will share the EDIT funds. How about closing the Delaware County Building on Thursdays, too. Just some ideas to consider. (Tongue in cheek!)
Regardless, this isn’t the first crisis and it won’t be the last.
One door closes and another door opens.
December 15th marked the last evening for Chat with the Mayor. Bittersweet.
Mayor Mac began the chat as usual providing information on different areas of the city. She introduced the department heads.
It was in essence, a state of the city address in condensed form. .
Thank you Mayor Sharon McShurely. You have been a wonderful mayor for our city.
Special thanks to the department heads. You have all been great.
So without much ado, here is the video of the last Chat.
Imagine leaving the country on an economic junket to Germany. When you left you were Delaware County Commissioner for District 1. When you return you find your district is gone.
There was no catastrophic event, no nuclear incident, nothing like that. Instead, it was Commissioner Todd Donati’s Sharpie which drew the lines that eliminated Commissioner Don Dunnuck’s district.
No biggie for Dunnuck. He has indicated he won’t run for commissioner in 2012. Mr. Dunnuck has his eyes on a county judge seat.
Which brings up another question.
Why would Don Dunnuck be chosen to seek out economic development when his goal is to be a Delaware County judge? I will never understand how Delaware County operates, thinks or works. It’s foreign to me. (Pardon the pun.)
But, I digress.
In case you may be wondering where District 1 went, have no fear. It’s still there. Now, Dunnuck’s kingdom is Larry Bledsoe’s. Go figure.
The new and improved District 1, which includes Daleville, is as far away from Dunnuck’s residence as you can get. What Democrat county council member lives in the new district?
Hmmm….Intrigue and suspense right here in Delaware County. Who would have thunk it?
District 2, which is Todd Donati’s district hasn’t changed all that much.
Mr. Donati who revealed he wants a second term ended the speculation with this confirmation “at this point in time” In other words, he needs four more years to continue his reign of spending. Donati in the county and Tyler in the city. It just doesn’t get any better than this, folks.
Larry Bledsoe, District 3, was “suspiciously” left out of the redistricting planning.. He may have put a chink in the new districts and we couldn’t have that, could we? What do you expect from a man who was against the County Plaza building project ($700,000.00+), closing the county building on Fridays and had the audacity to call the Delaware County Building “The people’s building”.
Mr. Dunnuck has a lot on his plate. He doesn’t have a district and the Democrat party chair announced his sister will be running for District 2 judge, same seat Dunnuck wants.
That’s about it for a Saturday night in Delaware County, Indiana. So, I will leave you to ponder this quote from the Star Press:
“You take from one and give to another and it affects everything,” Quirk said. “We’ll see how everything shakes out here shortly.” Mike Quirk, Democrat chairperson SP 12-10-11.
The Muncie 9/12 Tea Party
1700 W. McGalliard Rd. Muncie, IN 47304
DECEMBER 9, 2011
Get to know your 2012 Candidate
for U.S. Senate, Indiana
From an email I received describing Richard Mourdock:
Hope all of you have marked your calendars for this Friday, December 9 at 6:00 – Kennedy Library – to meet Richard Mourdock. Richard currently is the Treasurer of the State of Indiana and is opposing Richard Lugar in the Primary in May to represent Indiana in Washington D.C. as our Senator. Each of us bears a responsibility to pass on the Republic (which was given to us by our parents) to our children and grandchildren and Richard Mourdock knows how to help us do that. He’s a real, died-in-the-wool conservative, both socially and fiscally.Richard has done (alongside Mitch Daniels) in Indiana what needs to happen in Washington, D.C. You will like the character of the man. This is an opportunity to meet, personally, the next Senator from the great state of Indiana. There will be a question and answer opportunity after his speech. Look forward to seeing you on Friday.“It does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in people’s minds.” Samuel Adams
Richard Mourdock at the Lebanon Fourth of July Parade.
A guest column by German Cruz titled “Vulgarity in our civil affairs”gets to the heart of what ails Delaware County. As always, Mr. Cruz is elegant in his presentation of local events. His words, no matter how majestic, no matter how true, will undoubtedly fall on deaf ears and blinded eyes.
After the 2010 primary votes were tallied, the local Democrat party ended the evening in a loss. A clean sweep by Team Democrat candidates found the Democrat Headquarters’ supported candidates not making it out of the gate.
With the physical ejection of the media, and the public forums lit up with the disdain for the winning candidates, one wonders…does it really matter if it is a victory or a defeat? Vulgarity is displayed regardless if it is a win or lose election.
Then as now, there was no apology given to the press or the citizens for their behavior…there is no need, the actions are justified and even supported.
Now, before you say this is something new and civility and ethics have reigned supreme long before Lee Hamilton spoke at Minnetrista, I would like to take you back a decade when newly elected Republican Joe Russel introduced a code of ethics to the county council.
New council President Joe Russell proposed the code of ethics, which included pledges to represent the interests of taxpayers and ‘not use my service on county council for my own personal advantage or for the advantage of my friends or supporters.’
Veteran council Democrat Todd Donati was more critical in his assessment.
‘I think it was uncalled for,’ Donati said. ‘All of us know what our job is; we don’t need it restated by some Republican thinking.’
As much as I would love to claim ethics and civility as Republican thinking, it would be in vain. Ethics and civility is more an individual characteristic, and those which practice it in their personal lives normally carry it into the political arena. They align themselves with others of like mind. In the past four years, having been introduced to several Democrat and Republican political figures, it’s encouraging to find ethics and civility isn’t just talk. We need to support this these types of candidates and elected officials. All parties.
Now, more than ever before, the people are responsible for the character of their Congress. If that body be ignorant, reckless, and corrupt, it is because the people tolerate ignorance, recklessness, and corruption. If it be intelligent, brave, and pure, it is because the people demand these high qualities to represent them in the national legislature. ]f the next centennial does not find us a great nation … it will be because those who represent the enterprise, the culture, and the morality of the nation do not aid in controlling the political forces. James A. Garfield
Moving on to another opinion piece, Larry Riley’s regular column begins to address the 2012 election. Specifically, the county race in Circuit Court 2. Running with the Team Democrat is Kim Dowling which has been campaigning since the 2011 primary. She will be one to watch. Don Dunnuck, currently the county commissioner and a long-standing Democrat insider, has announced his intentions to run. Mike Quirk, Democrat Party chair, announced his sister will seek the same office as Dowling and Dunnuck. It’s still early, but Kim Dowling is the best of the three.
If you are interested in modernization and consolidation, Riley’s column is spot on. A good read.
Moving on to the lead story, Tyler: No ‘good old boys club”, Mayor-elect Dennis Tyler promises Muncie will not be lead by the “good old boys”.
But, what is far more interesting is his comments on the 911 lawsuit. This lawsuit alleges the city has been over charged for 911 services by the county for at least a decade. The suit cites an interlocal agreement from 1987 which spells out the costs the city is obligated to pay.
Outgoing mayor, Sharon McShurley, believed the city should not bear the majority of expenses, and the county said we should.
Mayor-elect Dennis Tyler and Democrats seemed a little more than perturbed the public was eyeing the 911 lawsuit with suspicion. And why not?
Immediately after Tyler’s win, the paper reported Delaware County council members talking about how they would spend the money. The attorney for the county, Mike Quirk, which is also the Democrat party chair, and rumored to become the city’s attorney, said he wanted to spare the city the cost of a lawsuit. Commissioner Todd Donati wants it gone, too.
These are all people very closely aligned to Tyler. With all of this, it would be hard not to view it with suspicion.
And the county which is millions of dollars in debt, needs the money.
It will barely make a dent.
Vulgarity in our civic affairs Star Press 11-27-11
Next year’s politics offer even more Star Press 11-27-11
Tyler: No ‘good old boys club” Star Press 11-27-11
911 dispute delayed again Star Press 11-29-11
COMMISSIONERS VOTE FOR MERGER: Vanderburgh County Commissioners have taken one of the final steps needed to place a question on merging city and county governments before for the voters next year (Gootee, Evansville Courier & Press). During their meeting Tuesday night, Commissioners Marsha Abell and Lloyd Winnecke supported the resolution which enables a referendum in November 2012, while Commissioner Stephen Melcher voted against it. Now for the plan officials have spent the last five months discussing to get onto the ballot, the Evansville City Council must approve the exact same resolution as the commissioners. The City Council is scheduled to vote on the proposal Sept. 26. Melcher’s lone dissenting vote came as no surprise after his own proposal adding a so-called voter threshold died without a vote after neither Abell or Winnekce seconded it. Under a threshold, city voters and those who live outside city limits would have had to give separate majority approval for the two governments to merge. The proposal being considered requires a simple countywide majority from voters at the polls for the new government structure to take effect in January 2015.
In Larry Riley’s column Sunday(11-20-11) he mentions a brief conversation with Delaware County Commissioner Todd Donati.
Dismissively waiving his hand, Donati grinned and suggested, “We don’t need to vote on consolidation.”
The allusion would be to the referendum next November on completely reorganizing Muncie and Delaware County into one political unit, something Donati and fellow Democrats do not want to see
With both City and County under the control of one political party, the consolidation as alluded by President Donati will be one that will not include the voters or citizens of Delaware County. In fact, the vote has already been tainted by the 67% threshold.
As with the proposed animal control in 2010, which combined services, it was not in the best interest of the city residents. E911 is another interlocal agreement which has been fuzzy for at least a decade. One that has not been favorable to…city residents. I believe the law suit should go to the finish line. If the city is favored, we can be assured the truth has been revealed. If the city doesn’t prevail, we can be assured the truth has been revealed. Let’s dispel any doubts and go into the new administration with a clean slate.
Can Delaware county do it? Your guess is as good as mine.
The Muncie 2011 Mayoral election has come and gone. Many people have expressed concern about the direction our city may take in the next four years. The British government, in 1939, produced a series of posters designed to motivate the people and alleviate feelings of anxiety.
Muncie citizens, take heart. Your property taxes will not be raised to meet any shortfall like the 11% increase we saw in 2006. With property tax caps firmly placed in the Indiana constitution your homestead will not rise above 1% of assessed evaluation – with a maximum of 3% on other properties. This is a bit of insurance for property owners.
Included in the HB1478 signed in 2007 is the ability to tax the working residents a certain percentage. This is known as Local Option Income Tax (LOIT). This tax if imposed, will encompass all of Delaware County. It was first introduced in 2009, by Muncie Council President Alison Quirk, which won another four-year term. The outcry was simply the Muncie Common Council had not considered any other options before introducing LOIT at the highest rate available. Adding to it, among other reasons, unemployment and foreclosures were at a record high.
I believe it is obscene to tax an economically down people because government couldn’t control their spending, and made no attempt to do so. We may want to keep an eye on this one should it be brought back up.
One other area which isn’t far from our minds, is the concern the city may be spent into debt. If you have been following the county, you will understand the county had a decent financial cushion going into 2009. At the end of that year, the county was struggling to find $10.5 million dollars.
It only took 12 months to go into debt.
The ramifications have yet to be fully realized. Just a little pin prick with the county building closed one day per week. For those needing to use the county building services, it probably affects them more. The human factor saw 25 people laid-off.
The city on the other hand, will feel more than a pin prick if we go from black to red in a matter of months. Some things take longer before the pain is realized. Like the two-year audit of the Community Development Office. Often we find the sins of the past rears its ugly head years after the actual event took place.
With a voter turnout of 29% our fate for the next four years has been decided.
It’s time-consuming, sometimes frustrating to follow local government. Fortunately for me, I have a wealth of information available in the form of video, documentation, resources and people. Living in the city you almost always have to do double duty…city and county both.
Kudos to those which keep a diligent eye on the National level. That must be very intense.
I followed the McShurley administration closely, and I hope you all gleaned a bit of information and insight into our local government scene. God willing and the creek don’t rise, I hope to continue in this same vein. That being said, here is a short list of things to expect in 2012.
- Coming up in 2012 are two projects which have already been earmarked. I will go into more detail as the year-end gets closer.
- Department head appointments. How departments are run and their effectiveness depends on the ability and experience of those appointed to the positions.
- We still have close to six weeks before the new administration begins, Muncie expects to have a $3 million dollar balance (approximately) to carry into 2012.
- SAFER grant ends.
- Decrease in EDIT funds from the State of Indiana.
- Opening of Mock Fire Station.
Short notice, and I apologize.
Upcoming Program at The E.B.& Bertha C. Ball Center
Topic: Proposed Government Reorganization
Speaker: Dr. Eric Kelly, Ball State Professor of Urban Planning and Chairperson of University Senate
Date/Time: Friday, November 11, 10:00 a.m.
Place: The E.B.& Bertha C. Ball Center, 400 N. Minnetrista Parkway, Muncie, IN 47303
Fee: No fee, but reservations required. Please call 285-8975
Dr. Kelly chaired the seven-member Muncie-Delaware County Government Reorganization Committee that has proposed a consolidation and restructuring of the functions of local government. The proposal will be on the ballot in 2012 for voter approval
A few weeks ago a blog entry titled “Not Getting Along With Anybody” I promised to expound on some of my favorite things. Well, time has certainly flown by, so don’t believe it will be done before November 8th!
What I will offer you, is the original list of 45 things which happened during her administration updated with additional events. Information on the Madison Street Project (#38) is at the end of this post.
I have always supported Sharon McShurley. After doing this research and pulling together the information, I gained a new appreciation for the Administration, Department Heads and City Employees. Folks, this is a real team of people, dedicated, hardworking and willing to move our city forward even under the most trying times. This is my THANK YOU! You have all been great!
Let’s keep our city moving forward, as you can see it has been progressing. Don’t allow the naysayers to tell you different.
1. HUD funds restored/off federal monitoring list
2. Prairie Creek self-sustaining-major improvements
3. Canan Commons
4. Tuhey Pool
5. Progressive Rail
6. Indiana Stamping
8. Hamilton County officials & Mayor meet with Senator Bayh to retain 700 jobs
9. Wheel Tax spent wisely
10. Ivy Tech Downtown
11. Brought city through major budget crisis without raising taxes
12. Building Commission-self-sustaining
13. Presented before legislatures as representative of IACT (Indiana Association of Cities and Towns)
15. Implementation of HPG (High Performance Government paid with a grant)
16. Vetoed 67% threshold vote on Consolidation
17. Invited on economic development investment venture, paid for by private funds
18. Energy Grant –replace traffic lights, heating cooling high-efficiency unit
19. 3 year street painting (nothing done prior to 2007)
20. Blight tackled (Contracts for 39 more buildings including deconstruction awarded October 2011)
21. Governor Arts Walk
22. Muncie Police Department software upgrade, partnering with Ball State on crime mapping
23. Cable Commission active again/working to provide private funding for PAC and create an account to deposit the funds
24. Improved snow removal
25. One of three cities nationally to win “Green City Award”
26. U.S. Attorney, Joe Hogsett, toured Muncie giving “high marks” for building deconstruction program
27. White River Blvd. paved more for less
28. Paving of several streets, including Mock, 18th, 12th, Centennial, Tillotson, Bethel, Willard, Main, Jackson (list is not exhaustive)
29. Walk of Fame Heekin Park
30. Paved Tillotson Fire station parking lot
31. Restored Deputy Fire Chief position
32. Completed Muncie Parks Five Year Plan
33. Completed inventory on City of Muncie owned properties (found properties forgotten)
34. Improved City website
35. Engaging citizens in volunteerism (MAP & government)
36. Vetoed City Council’s animal control ordinance giving all city assets to a county facing severe financial problems
37. Working on design to eliminate congestion at Chadam & Clara lane vicinity
38. Madison Street Signal light project to begin in 2012(see below for more detail)
39. Received funds to improve railroad crossings through downtown
40. Monthly meetings with citizens (Chat with the Mayor)
41. Appointing qualified and experienced department heads
42. Madison intersections 26 & 29th upgraded
43. City administration not requesting line of credit to meet budget
44. Whiteley Community Council and administration working together on neighborhood fire station (this station will receive remodeling and Buley Center a grant)
45. Gift of $30,000 from Muncie Endurathon for PCR playground equipment
46. Sidewalk on Madison and Washington replaced
47. Park improvements to McCulloch Park, parking, playground equipment and updated basketball court
48. 2011 will end with a financial reserve
49. Mayor McShurley invited to speak at Progress Rail’s open house
50. Submitted a 2012 budget which includes staffing public safety at current levels
51. Creating a Parks Program Director (possible by combining two park jobs)
52. Downtown master plan initiated (Muncie Action Plan driven)
53. Proposed bonus for employees (city employees and department heads have helped make the city run more efficiently, this will be a minimal amount from the reserve) Contrary to popular belief this was addressed last summer at a Mayor’s Chat.
54. 30 projects funded by state and federal dollars dormant prior to 2008 were organized (paperwork was sparse)
55. Benchmarked the city to measure city’s progress
56. 2009 Street Department – used mixture of beet juice and salt on ice and snow
57. City Hall updated landscape to “Dry” landscape. Less water and less maintenance=less expense.
58. Member of the Indiana Association of Cities and Towns, which meets monthly (see #13)
59. $150,000 grant to implement bike trails at Prairie Creek.
Madison Street Project
The project entails improving ADA accessibility and installing new traffic signal equipment at the intersections of Madison Street that have signals from Wysor Street south to 29th Street. The upcoming construction will improve Madison’s intersections with Wysor, Washington, Adams, Charles, Kirby, Willard, Ninth, Memorial, 15th and 18th, and remove the signal at 21st street due to lack of need. (Press release 9-13-2011)
In 2011 Dennis Tyler voted NO on the state budget which included provisions for no tax increases and had a satisfactory reserve in 2013. (HB1001)
- He voted NO to pass a bill which eliminated nepotism and conflict of interest while holding public office. Both of these bills protect the taxpayers for two very obvious reasons. (HB1022)
- In 2010 Dennis Tyler voted NO to delay the tax increase on business until 2011 when the economy (hopefully) improves. . (SB23)
- In 2009 Dennis Tyler was a member of House Committee on Government and Regulatory Reform and combined five bills into one and then promptly voted it down The bills included such things as moving school board elections to November, conflict of interest, provide for voter referendum on government consolidation and establish the use of vote centers. Voted NO.
- He voted YES on Regional Transportation Districts, a new taxing unit controlled by boards without restriction, unrestricted powers and can be created without a referendum of voters affected. (SB374)
- In 2007 Dennis Tyler voted YES which increased property taxes, decrease in the Homestead Standard Deduction., introduced Local Option Income Tax (LOIT). Voted YES to increase pay by 20%. (HB1478 & SB401)
Dennis Tyler said he never voted for a tax increase in his six years as state representative during the Mayoral Debate. This comment wasn’t being fair to the people. He did vote for tax increases. It’s just worded in Dennis Tyler’s vernacular.
Dennis Tyler didn’t want to have a special session on property taxes in the summer of 2007. He voted to increase your property taxes and decrease your homestead deduction. He voted a for a perpetual 20% raise for himself, though.
Dennis Tyler didn’t vote for consolidation as he claimed at a forum last summer. He did just the opposite. By combining the bills on reform into one, he guaranteed the passage would be dead in the water.
City Council and County Commissioners placed a 67% vote threshold on the modernization, it was our local officials attempt to ensure it failed. Dennis Tyler will not be “new” and “improved”, but rather a continuation of what we have had for years.
Dennis Tyler has campaigned on jobs each and every time he wants your vote. His record has shows no votes or legislation conducive for job creation. Nor is he considered the go to guy when it comes to making our area a strong economic environment. Taxing businesses which creates jobs in a down-turned economy is wrong!
Dennis Tyler has received such low ratings from pro-business organizations such as Indiana Chamber of Commerce, Indiana Manufacturing Association and the Indiana National Federation of Independent Businesses.
In his mailer Dennis Tyler said “He worked to retain the Community Revitalization Economic Enhancement District that helped attract Progress Rail to locate to the former ABB facility.” CReEd for this area was established by Governor Joe Kernan in 2004, it has a 15 year track and it wasn’t going anywhere. (He was the Delaware County Democrat chairperson in 2004.)
Dennis Tyler has mentioned on more than one occasion, the pools of money available. He spoke about EDIT, grants, Community Development funds and TIF. So, I wonder if he is eyeing these areas as just another avenue to spend more.
Dennis Tyler is intertwined with the Democrats that are supported by the Democrat Central Committee. What we have seen once they have been in office, has been costly for the people of Muncie and Delaware County. Some of the most hideous expenses to the taxpayers, along with poor management and embarassing moments have been through their governing. A few examples would be the Justice Center, Royerton Sewer, Muncie City budget cuts, tax increases, and currently the county’s debt of $8 million dollars.
Based on Dennis Tyler’s voting record and what we have seen so far coming from elected officials fully supported by the local Democrat party, do you really believe Dennis Tyler will be any different?
Do you really?