Month after month Mayor McShurley was hounded at every Chat With The Mayor on when she was going to apply for the SAFER Grant. Even when the grant was not open for applications, it was the same song and dance.
We were told by the supporters of the grant there would be no cost, and we found that to not be entirely true. There is a cost. Muncie must have the front money and then be reimbursed. It could take months to get paid by the Federal Government. The Federal Government could find we are in violation and yank the funds. The grant could require payback of monies or even be blacklisted from grants.
Back in June 2009, a plan was brought to the eyes of the public. A group of citizens formed the Community Action Committee or CAC. This group put together a plan to keep Muncie Fire Department at its current level. The first item listed is a consolidation of Center Township Fire Department to include the building and the equipment. What wasn’t include was the ten paid firefighters and the 40 odd volunteers. They were out.
The CAC proposal included other items, but for this topic we will stick with Center Township.
In the proposal, Center Township would pay Muncie $300,000 a year until the trucks were paid off and thereafter $400,000. A copy was presented to Center Township Trustee, Kay Walker.
By the time the proposal was presented it was too late to realize any savings and the MFD experienced the first lay-off in the history of Muncie.
November came and still the question lingered on would the Mayor apply? There was much rumbling among the supporters of the grant. The deadline to apply was extended until January. FInally, Kay Walker came to the table. The agreement she made with the City was very close to what mirrored the CAC proposal she received in June, 2009.
With this as a main turning point, the Mayor and Walker came to an agreement.
The Star Press reported it as breaking news on January 15th, 2010 and followed up with articles all saying the the same thing.
- The move to apply for the grant was tied to Center Township turning its firefighting force over to the city, and in turn paying Muncie $250,000 a year through 2011 and then $400,000 a year after that for fire protection. Earlier news articles said the city would save $750,000 over the next two years and then $700,000 thereafter because of the Center Township agreement and concessions from the fire union.5-5-10
- “As part of a pending agreement, Center Township would agree to dismantle its fire department and pay the city $250,000 a year for fire protection in unincorporated areas.
Beginning in 2012 the township would begin paying $400,000.” 1-15-10
- “Perhaps of even greater significance, Center Township agreed to dismantle its fire department and pay Muncie for fire protection — $250,000 a year through 2011 and then $400,000 a year thereafter. “1-19-10
We should have paid a little more attention to the one word which as of today, has shed a light on the agreement.
The word for today is “Pending“.
You see, it appears that there was no agreement in writing, no legal document to seal the deal. Making this a verbal agreement and nothing more. I believe everyone thought it was a done deal, even some which were involved in the CAC before it was disbanded.
July 16, 2010, the newspaper reports that Kay Walker is no longer interested in the original verbal agreement and instead lists some very contradictory reasons. Now, Walker wants the agreement to go only until 2011, the year the current mayoral term ends. Second, she is concerned about the firetrucks and the payment.
Seven months to the day, and this is the first we hear of her concerns. Odd she would stay silent for so long.
Here is what was quoted in today’s paper.
- “Walker said that’s not the case. The township is still making payments on the equipment, she said.
- “”They can’t keep the equipment,”” the trustee said. “That’s Center Township’s equipment.””
Muncie can not afford to take on the debt of their trucks, which is why the lower yearly payments were considered. Muncie City is part of Center Township. Our tax bills show a line item of how much the city pays to the twp. In effect, Muncie has helped pay for the trucks.
The real kick to all of this is why after seven months has Walker suddenly come forward with this change of heart? If this was given to her in a proposal in June ’09, and again discussed in January ’10, why on July 16th, 2010 is this become an issue?
It’s a wash, it will always be a wash. Let Kay Walker and Center Township keep their fire department intact, and let Chief Burcham, the MFD and Mayor McShurley go back to the drawing board. Working with Walker will be a waste of time and energy. Move on.
The Mayor did her part, in good faith negotiated an agreement, filed the grant and it was awarded. Now, Walker has changed her mind. That is definitely her prerogative, since we are not legally bound to any agreement.
Let’s remove CTR Twp. from the mix and quit wasting time with a dead-end agreement.
And if you see Kay Walker on the street, ask her why it took seven months for her to come forward when it should have been addressed much earlier than one month before the MFD was to return back to work.
Oh, yes, don’t forget it is an election year. What political plan does she and Democrat Headquarters have up their sleeve on this one?
Voter her out of office. And remember if she should set her sights on the Mayor seat, look for an increase in taxes to fund what we can not afford. She will embrace LOIT, not as a much-needed revenue for the citizens of Muncie, but for her pet projects.
Mark my words.