Updated! Check out Jim Arnold’s view on the meeting. Guarantee you will find it entertaining. Go to the Pages section of the blog.
The usual abatements and ordinances were passed and every thing seemed to be moving at a good pace. Until, a motion was brought to the table to purchase a previously owned aerial truck from Pike Township. For the people at the meeting, it was a whirlwind of comments from the city council and members of the audience spoke. The MFD is a touchy subject among many people in the city. I will spare you the details and refer you to the Star Press article: http://www.thestarpress.com/article/20090407/NEWS01/904070322/1002
The issues with MFD and funding deserve a full page spread with more information than I am able to provide at this time. Just know, Muncie is not protected as she should be. One wonders why the MFD is not able to get their act together when it comes to equipment purchases. No sense in pointing fingers, we are at a critical point in public safety, and it is way past time to get it fixed.
On to some other interesting bits of information:
Nominations for the Tax Abatement Committe as follows: Bruce Baldwin, Mark Burkhardt, Cheryl Batt, Jerry Dishman, Jerome Petty and Jim Mansfield.
Appointed to the Modernization and Reorganization Committee is Billy Sheppard (have no idea if this is the correct spelling).
President Allison Quirk introduced a City Council or Community Plan. In this plan she would like to hold public meetings and include city council members to address services provided such as a better website, etc. Similar to the Breakfast with Gregory and Chat with the Mayor, as I understand it.
President Quirk would like to see two categories: Education and Empowerment.
Education is described as introducing the citizens to the roles and responsibility of government including a public access broadcasts (Channel 60) and a website for more transparency on subjects like how revenues are being used, etc. She would like to include better communication with other taxing units such as the library, MSD, etc. Her hope is to hold quarterly meetings. There has been some discussion on public forums as to the state Muncie City website. My hope is those who feel it is inadequate and have the expertise would volunteer their services. We can tap into the university pool of talented students as another resource.
Empowerment is encouraging more activism within the neighborhood organizations and becoming more active with local government. She also included the government departments becoming more involved. She will be asking council to think about their districts and what could be done to improve their areas. My thought is we are investing a lot of money and some community service into Thomas Park. The park seems to be prone to vandalism and getting the neighborhood community involved has been an idea batted around by citizens outside of that district. That can be a start if anybody wants to know my opinion.
I applaud President Quirk’s initiative to make government more transparent, it appears that at least some progress is in the works. The citizens of Muncie have been asking for this type of government for some time now.
A gentleman spoke on the closing of Conley Library and President Quirk said the library is a different taxing unit. She did offer to talk with the council appointee and relay his message. He commented about the community meeting on Conley and only 1 board member showed and it was not the board member appointed by city council. He stressed if they accepted these positions, should make every attempt to meet with concerned citizens. That must be frustrating. He asked to meet with Mayor McShurley. I have had the feeling Conley should be closed, yet after hearing his presentation on cost savings, will rethink that position. However you feel about the closing, you have to admire this man’s tenacity and spirit. I certainly identified with his frustration. We have all felt it over the past few years. A lot can happen when people begin to take ownership of their city.
President Quirk spoke about meeting with the department heads in 30 days when the finalized revenue came down from the state. She believes there should be a more pro-active approach and it could be spilt up among the council members. Mary Joe Barton made the comment that many department heads don’t even see their budget, that it is all handled by the mayor. When questioned what departments or percentage, she did not have any answers. Another man responded to the 30 days citing the Umbaugh study and saw no need to wait until the state gives the figures. Folks, this statement makes a lot of sense, and considering what a mess our MFD and city is in, time is of the essence. Get to work now.
At every city council meeting in the past year, budget shortfalls were mentioned. Yet, the big concern was parking spaces, life guards and fireworks. I can’t help but feel if it was addressed in January ’08, we would be so much farther along in getting the city on track. Let’s hope the ideas presented by Quirk are an honest attempt at fixing the problems, and not just a form of citizen appeasement.
Other points of interest from the meeting. The MFD was honored for their skills in saving a man last year and a woman this year from a burning buildings.
Brenda Brumfield from the Chamber of Commerce is scheduling a public forum at the end of the month. Look for more information in the newspaper or call the chamber at 288-6681.
The editing of the meeting was questioned by a citizen. The video is not edited; there is only a 2 hour air time. In the past, if the meetings went over it was broken into segments and aired. In this case, the unfortunate demise of Channel 60 never gave the community the opportunity to watch the public comment section of the meeting.
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