Animal Shelter Fiasco & Budget Cuts & Politics

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City Council will be holding a special meeting on the fate of the Muncie Animal Shelter, Monday December 14th at 5:30 PM City Hall Auditorium.

I hope the people attending will direct the comments to the people who are responsible for the closing of the shelter. It is the fiscal body of our city, none other than the City Council. You can blame the mayor and that is fine if it makes you feel better. But the mayor has her hands tied on this one. She can do nothing. The city council MUST rescind the cut.  Please address your concerns to the only people who can rectify the situation.  Other than that, it will turn out to be an exercise in futility.

See, Mr. Sam Marshall announced the cuts, And it just so happened he and other unknown people, chose to cut from the animal shelter budget. The position which was cut was a union position, and surely Marshall and the City Council knew that cutting this position would result in the lay-offs of 4 part-time attendants. If not, then they have no business governing our city. If you will recall, when the mayor had to lay-off five police officers the reserves had to go. The city council should have learned from the mayor’s mistake and not committed it themselves.

The cut of a little over $40,000 was enough to cripple the Muncie Animal Shelter to the point it had no other options but to close. They City Council was hoping this would evoke a heated response, and it has. They are also hoping to slide through this without taking any responsibility.

Yet, as the fiscal body, they WERE the ones which made this and other senseless cuts. The mayor warned the council the cut would probably close the shelter, and they didn’t care. Her written response is available on this blog. Please take the time to read it.

Now, we have to get down to business. The City Council created a Rainy Day fund which has over $300,000.00. We believe, based upon state law, the fiscal body is not allowed to add to the budget only make cuts. Creating this fund is illegal.

All it takes to keep the shelter open is $40,000.00. Before they made the cut, the City Council should have looked at all the ramifications and used the “rainy day fund” to keep it operable. They did not.

Muncie also had a wonderful opportunity to partner with the Humane Society. This would have allowed for not only animal control, but animal care. We would have finally seen a return on our investment. A better shelter at a lesser cost. County Council voted it down. Why?

Since the Humane Society and Muncie Animal shelter was no longer an option, the next possibility would be to update the ordinances to reflect fees that are more current and generate revenue.  I believe the city council was afraid the Muncie Animal Shelter may have become self-sustaining within a year or two, very similar to what we saw with Prairie Creek. Certainly, we could not have that, could we?

The animal shelter has been a thorn in many people’s side for years. How long does it take to have a working and efficient shelter anyway? In Muncie it is about 25 years.

Muncie was facing a 4 million dollar budget shortfall. The mayor has found 2.5 million dollars. City Council called an impromptu press conference when the elected officials found they may not get the glory. Because the mayor did not act as fast as they wanted, the city council took it upon themselves to find the 1.5 million dollars.

This is what they came up with. Closing the animal shelter, no street lights, less fuel for police, removing key personnel and removing the water hydrant maintenance budget without any source of revenue.

I shudder to think what would have happened had the city council tasked themselves to find the 4 million.  In some respects, the finance committee, headed up by Vice President Mike King, did us a favor by not having any meetings with the committee in 18 months span.

 If anybody doubts the validity of this, one only needs to read the minutes of the city council meeting from April ’09.  Clearly, Mr. King deceived the people, and clearly Quirk or King never made good on the promise…meeting with department heads within 30 days.  In fact, if anybody should get a hold of the transcripts from the pre-election forums, you will find neither King or Quirk have lived up to their campaign promises.  Let’s make this their last term.

Nobody was able to answer any questions on the budget cuts. How they were determined or the reasons behind it. No thought was given to cutting the 911 Communications Center budget (Muncie City pays for about 85%). I believe it is because the center is now completely controlled by Dunnuck, Donati and Bledsoe. The city council would not dare touch that line item. Care to guess why?

“You’re a mean one, Mr. Grinch.”

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