Lots of things have been happening in good old Muncie, Indiana. Some have been not so good and some has been very good. Not so good for our local administration very good for the people of Muncie.
Let’s begin with Halteman Village.
Halteman Village is where the Mayor of Muncie as well as two City Council members live. It has been near and dear to Mayor Tyler, so much he donated $10,000 to fix Halteman Pool. $10,000 city tax dollars, that is. Oh, it was to pay for swim lessons, except the privately-owned pool permanently closed a few days later. We have a nice public pool, it’s called Tuhey Pool. It was quite a battle to get Tuhey Pool up and running. Questioning the Mayor why Tuhey Pool wasn’t used for the swim lessons “I don’t remember” he replied.
Halteman’s pool and clubhouse went up for tax sale and somehow the city acquired the property. The city has been maintaining it and spokesperson for the city, Sarah Beach, said the city didn’t want to see the neighborhood run down. Hmmm. Not sure where it’s at today.
Muncie Community Schools closed Mitchell School (in Halteman Village) and put it up for sale. It became quite complex because the city, as well as Ball State University, submitted offers. The city was higher and the university pulled back. The City of Muncie with the Muncie Redevelopment Commission wanted to demolish the school and build condos. As you can imagine, that didn’t please the residents of Halteman or city taxpayer who financed a remodel of the school about a decade past.
Next, we found the city had commissioned a housing study, citing the need for new housing to draw people to Muncie. Muncie Redevelopment director, Todd Donati, posted on his Facebook page “all the facts were in” and all the facts were based on this one study. Michael Hicks the director of the Center for Business and Economic Research at Ball State University examined the city’s housing study. The Muncie Star Press reported the City’s Study was based on incorrect data.
The city is no longer interested in building condominiums on the Mitchell School land. Todd Donati in charge of Muncie’s economic development was cited several times in State Board of Accounts audits for years 2014-15. Donati used a study calling it “facts” to push millions into the condo building project. Fortunately, for the stakeholders of Muncie, his plan fell through. Something else will come down the pike, count on it. He’s more than willing to spend money on pie in the sky ideas.
Besides the ongoing FBI investigation, the Bracken, and Stewart lawsuits against the City of Muncie we have one pressing issue that is still on the table and at anytime Mayor Tyler can direct his City Council to proceed. And the City Council Democrat majority will proceed simply because they have never denied Mayor Tyler or their political party anything.
Delaware County EMS is hanging in the balance.
You see, Mayor Tyler wants to start his very own EMS claiming it will bring revenue into the city. No, it won’t. This administration has gone over budget at Prairie Creek Reservoir, nearly $100,000 over budget for Tuhey Pool, increased the city’s tax levy every year and passed a 43% income tax in 14 days back in 2015. And just look at Halteman Village as proof they have no idea how to be fiscally responsible. Really, you could list other items of senseless spending and budgeting of this administration.
City Council member Alison Quirk and city attorney Megan Quirk have used the wear and tear of firetrucks when they go on a first responder call as leverage for city-run EMS. For six years the trucks have been used to run errands, go out to eat and grocery shopping and not a bit of concern was shown on “wear and tear” until the city wanted an EMS of their very own.
Not to mention the council’s attempt to schedule a City Council meeting on New Years Day. Oh, on the advice of the city council’s attorney, which just happened to find a 40-year-old city code requiring all council meetings to be held on the first Monday of the month. I’m sure the council was hoping for a low turnout on a holiday.
Wrong again. Guaranteed the message was broadcast on every form of social media and the meeting would have been a packed house. Proving once again, the only people in favor of city-run EMS would be the Mayor, the Fire Chief, and the six Democrat Headquarters’ council members and anyone who was concerned about losing their city positions, party support or city contracts.
Make no mistake, the Mayor has been able to systematically remove anyone who hinders his personal and political agenda. And without a doubt, DCEMS is caught in the sights of a political agenda and the collateral damage will be the people of Muncie and Delaware County.
Self-serving are they.
The people have been up and down, over and under by Muncie Mayor Dennis Tyler and his City Council. It’s called “his” City Council because the majority of the members will do as the party dictates. We don’t want another bloated and costly department. We want to keep the service which has done an excellent job for 40 years. We don’t trust this administration to work for the best interest of the people. We want to know that DCEMS will come when we call. Listen up, we DON’T want Tyler’s ambulance service.
Keep Delaware County EMS on the streets of Muncie.
Update: Ball State will be purchasing Mitchell and Sutton properties according to the Muncie Star Press (3-1-18)
“Mayor Dennis Tyler, through a representative, was favorable of the outcome. “I think it’s great. The city appreciates their partnership with MCS,” he said.”
Looks like the battle is over for Halteman Village.
Muncie Redevelopment Commission director, Todd Donati, posted on his Facebook page, he is ready to clear up misinformation. So here we go, folks.
15 hrs ·
All, please share this article with everyone. People need to know the truth about our housing crisis. There are those out there that think this is a fabrication. It’s for real.
Hundreds of employees from BSU and IU BMH that transition each year in these institutions, and many others, cannot find the housing to live in Muncie/Delaware County, so they locate elsewhere and commute, or they don’t come at all.
The study has been completed and the facts are in.
Our community CAN grow and meet the needs of the hundreds that cannot be a part of our community because we are NOT building new homes.
We need people that work hear to also live and invest in our community, if they can. We are losing $12,825,000.00 annually in projected new household income. That could relate to nearly $20 million in economic impact…each year.
In five years, that could relate to nearly $100 million in economic impact within our community. All of this is leaving our community because we choose to not build new. This is going to another county to fix their roads, supports their local businesses and lowers their taxes. 2-14-18
The study Todd Donati cited was commissioned by the City of Muncie. Unable to locate the document on the City of Muncie’s website. The company Zanola Company and MarketGraphics Research conducted the study. However, as of this post, the complete document is not available in the City of Muncie’s website.
To divert this upcoming crisis we will need to build 405 new homes over a five year period, or 81 a year. We don’t have 81 homes on the market today? Well, let’s see.
Using Realtor.com ran a report on properties in Delaware County with the price range of $100,000 to $250,000. The search returned 115 properties from condos to new builds. Two new builds in Pine View subdivision (Muncie city) have been on the market for 100+ days. The subdivision has a minimum of 16 lots available which haven’t been developed and on the market a maximum of 660 days.
If you are looking for a less expensive home $50,000 to $99,000 Realtor.com returns 131 properties, condos, single family, pending sales, land and lots in the Saddle Brook subdivision. Of course, Saddle Brook would be out of the price range for most IU Health and BSU employees. The lots range from $36,000 to $72,000.
This brings us to a total of 246 available properties.
Currently, Todd Donati and Mayor Tyler are working to build condominiums in Halteman Village. The housing is needed, they say, based on the study paid for by the city. The tried and true theory of Supply and Demand comes into play. If the supply is so low and demands so high why aren’t we seeing a noticeable increase in private developers building homes? If there is such a demand, why is the city providing financing thru the Muncie Industrial Revolving Loan Fund (RIFL) to the developer of Halteman Village condos? How many interested buyers do we have for these condos?
During the emergency meeting on February 9th, two community members spoke. When comments about the project became a little intense, Mayor Tyler called for a vote to rescind the bid offers. It was out of the blue. The only property in question was Mitchell Elementary School, but he pulled all of the bids. Why?
The vote seemed to be choreographed, as if was all for show.
I predict it will come back up for a vote again. Mayor Tyler will argue against, but it will pass and Dennis Tyler will come out looking like he did something. That’s not an unusual occurrence with this administration.
Mr. Donati claims people need to know the truth. Who’s truth? What is the truth? Mr. Donati always claims the citizens are incorrect or misinformed and he alone knows the truth. He received a poor score on his management of Muncie Redevelopment Commission for 2014 & 2015. He claimed he was only doing what the previous director had done for 20 years. He said he didn’t know. All finance were to be handled by the city controller beginning in 2017.
If there is any misinformation floating around it stems from lack of transparency on the part of the City of Muncie and Muncie Redevelopment Commission. If you visited the city’s web page on MRC you would have found the last year for the minutes of MRC meetings was in 2010. Now, even the 2010 minutes are no longer available.
We checked out the controller’s website to see if we could find information on MRC since they handle all of Muncie Redevelopment finances as of January 2017.
Director of the Muncie Redevelopment Commission speaks to the issue of Mitchell School.
There is a lot of misinformation and confusion going around that needs to be addressed. We are going to invite all the entities involved with the misinformation and either clear this all up and determine if the MRC will continue with the projects in play. The MRC had always shown interest in some of the properties that the MCS had to offer, including Mitchell, Storer, Sutton and land on Cornbread Rd.
The MRC had been contacted by a demolition company out of Richmond, IN that wanted to demo the schools for salvage. The MRC could not really do anything with the properties with buildings in place. The demolition company said they really did not want the land. So the demolition company offered the land to the MRC, for free, once they removed the buildings. The MRC board agreed to this only after we contacted BSU and asked them if they were interested in any of the properties. They had the right to buy them all.
The MRC was told that they did not have any interest in any of the properties but Northside MS. You have seen the recorded document waiving their right to buy. So the MRC board agreed to donate $658,600 to the MCS if they were to accept the $125,000 offer from the demo company. This would garner the MCS much needed revenue, this would allow the MCS to achieve their objective, illuminate the liability of taking care of these abandoned buildings and help generate at least $20- $50 million in taxable revenue on these combined properties.
The MRC board did not close these schools. The MRC board, nor the City of Muncie administration did not create the financial crisis within the MCS. The MRC board was only trying to create opportunities for the community we support. It seems that there are comments out there that we, the MRC and the City of Muncie asked BSU to give these schools up when in fact, BSU really wanted them. We have no interest in doing that. The MRC board would like to ask BSU if in fact they do want these schools.
The MRC board does not want to get involved with any form of miscommunication, especially with our community partners. And, we feel that BSU is a very valuable and important community partner. If BSU wants these schools, our board is prepared to take action. However, it needs to be BSU that openly states that this is what they want…not hearsay comments from unauthorized citizens.
There were no lies made or personal gains made from anyone in this group. I appreciate the hard work and dedicated members of the Muncie Redevelopment Commission. They volunteer their time to make our community better.
Disclaimer: The only changes made to this public post is breaking the comment into paragraphs for easier reading. Nothing else has been altered.
Yesterday at 5:26pm ·
I still meet regularly with “the informants,” the people who touched off the federal investigation of the Muncie city administration, those persistent folks who doggedly kept pestering the FBI until agents concluded they were, indeed, onto something.
Since November of 2015, FBI agents talked to them dozens of times and until perhaps summer of last year continued to solicit information from at least one of them. As recently as six weeks ago, the FBI still was interviewing other people.
Provided that one day the investigation ends – hopefully with more indictments – I will ask permission to name the informants. They are heroes in my book and deserve the gratification of an entire community. Their relentless tenacity, perhaps obstinacy is a better word, won out.
I just found out about another development that I have to suspect is connected to the FBI’s investigation: as of two months ago, Arron Kidder is no longer part of the Dennis Tyler city administration.
Arron Mathew Kidder went to Elkhart Memorial High School and came to BSU, where he majored in political science and graduated December of 2012. While still in school, he interned for Brad Bookout’s consulting company and got involved in the Delaware County Redevelopment Commission. When Tyler took over the mayor’s office in 2012, Bookout did some consulting for the new administration and hired Kidder, who eventually handled most of the city’s grant-writing work. A year later, Kidder spun off his own consulting firm, Hawkins Consulting Inc., and contracted with the city to write grants.
In 2014, he earned $35,000 from the city, his only consulting client, who gave him an office next to the mayor’s. Kidder began assuming more and more duties that typically would have gone to a deputy mayor, a position Tyler has not filled. The next year, 2015, with a whopping contractual increase, Kidder earned more than $60,000, and in 2016, he got $55,000, an amount in excess of the salaries of all but a couple city department heads.
Kidder sat in for the mayor on a handful of boards. He regularly attended Muncie Board of Public Works meetings as the mayor’s emissary, bringing contracts Tyler wanted approved and other matters before the three-member panel, who exist to do the mayor’s bidding. Several times I recall Kidder telling the board that the city needed to tear down condemned houses under emergency conditions and that the administration had obtained quotes from two companies to do the work. The lower quote would invariably be from the private firm owned by the city’s Building Commissioner, Craig Nichols, who would have condemned the houses in the first place and declared the emergency.
I first wrote in February of 2016 that some of those houses Nichols’ firm was paid to demolish hadn’t existed: they were phantom demolitions. The administration quickly created a cover story claiming that all the addresses were mere clerical mistakes, but by then, the FBI, already probing into Muncie Sanitary District, had added Nichols’ billings to their investigation.
Six months later, The Star Press pulled the plug on my column-writing. Four months after that, the FBI raided the city building commissioner’s office and seized records. A month later, February of 2017, Nichols was indicted on 33 felony counts, almost all related to work he did for the city, including the phantom demolitions and the attempted cover-up I wrote about.
Kidder certainly was a rising star in the Tyler administration. Tyler put him on several local boards, including the Aviation Authority. Kidder lived in a house he rented from the vice-chair of the Delaware County Democratic Party and he involved himself in party activities. Last September, The Star Press wrote a glowing profile of Kidder in a section on up-and-coming Muncie leaders.
Then, two months later, Kidder was suddenly gone. No announcement.
Through November when he got his last check, Kidder had received $66,000 from the city in 2017.
Not many Ball State graduates in their first position out of college knock down $60,000-plus annual salaries, and I can’t imagine many young people in their mid-20s simply walking away from that kind of money. Not without a whole lotta motivation, that is.
Please share this with any Muncie people still hoping justice prevails.
Have you ever wondered about Muncie’s finances or how the people on the city’s finance committee figure how to spend it? I know, it’s a mystery, right? Well, not any longer. Now you too can be a pseudo city controller. It’s easy. We’ll show how simple it can be. And it’s free.
The new report format is not as fancy as the older reports. Not as detailed, either. Nevertheless, it tells a story of Muncie from 2011-2017 in a clean, easy to read and understandable format. Muncie Politics has prepared two reports for you to review.
The first is the Muncie Tax Finance dashboard 2011-17. It’s Muncie at-a-glance report.
The next report Muncie Tax and Finance Time Comparison 2012-17 displays the tax rates and basic information in a clear timeline. Yep, the tax levy has increased every year. As well as the city payroll. 2015 wasn’t a good year for Muncie or Delaware County residents.
September 2015 the city raised a 43% income tax. From start to finish it took 14 days to pass that tax. Amazing, huh? The sad part is, no one even noticed prior to the tax increase the city finances were shaky. That’s o.k. because the city building commissioner received a nice raise and his company demolished buildings paid from the increased EDIT in 2016.
See, folks, it’s all good.
Now, if you want to explore the city’s taxes and finances all one has to do is click on the image below. Enter your favorite government agency and then choose the type of report. Bam! You are good to go!
You will be armed with enough information to make a wise decision at the polls come election time. When an elected official, an appointed “public” employee, or a candidate tell you something you’ll be able to discern if it is true or if they are just blowing smoke. A wonderful position to be: an informed citizen. A scary thing to those who lust after monetary gain for their benefit.