What’s happening with Concerned Citizens of Delaware County for Property Tax Repeal? Lots!

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Greetings fellow citizens of Delaware County!!!

There is so much going on with our Organization, Delaware County and Muncie (especially with the imminent Municipal Elections) that we felt obligated to send out an alert and give you a quick summary of the most recent happenings…..

Our organization of the past 3 and a half years, The Citizens of Delaware County for Property Tax Repeal, Inc. has recently undergone a legal identity and name change. Effective January 1, 2011, the legal identity of the organization has been amended to:

The Citizens of Delaware County for Good Government, Inc.

And we are very excited about 2011!! Thanks to you, the property tax caps are permanently in place. Our organization has now made a decision to tweak our identity with a name change. From this point forward, we will be legally registered and recognized as “The Citizens of Delaware County for Good Government Inc”. The alteration to the name represents a more encompassing identity of what out recent focus has been. We believe this change will make us even more effective and allow us to partner with other groups both locally and statewide. As, has always been the case in the past, we will continue to zero in on local and statewide issues that expose waste, fraud and abuse and general bad governing as well as those that result in favorable outcomes for the citizens.

Also, please be reminded that we are currently in our annual Voting Membership Dues and general donations drive period. The recipients of this alert are encouraged to consider their ongoing support of our efforts. This all important annual consideration for membership or donations is the primary funding resource for all our efforts throughout the year. We truly believe there is no greater bang for your buck than the positive changes that we have made together in Delaware County or the State of Indiana for that matter. Just as a reminder, a few of the primary efforts that we’re constantly involved with are:

Annual website fees and costs as well as its daily operations

Newsletters

Miscellaneous mailings and email alerts

Annual 4-Corners Community Updates

Election year Candidate Forums

Discussion Panels

City-County Reorganization

County-Township Reorganization

Assessor consolidations

Video documenting and webcasting of government meetings

Statehouse lobbying efforts

Annual Property Tax Appeal HELP DAYS!

Participation and assistance to various committees and public efforts associated with setting local construction wage packages, sustaining the Public Access Channel 60, the Muncie Action Plan (MAP) as well as County and City Redevelopment issues and efforts.

…..including all the rental, insurances, advertisement and other miscellaneous expenses associated with the previously mentioned efforts.

It’s important mention to that all of our active members and volunteers deliver nearly 100 manhours per week of personal time for the pure love and caring of our County and its communities, nothing more. They all work very hard for free. We have been very blessed to have such a group of forward thinking and hard working individuals and embrace and encourage others to get involved as well.

It’s extremely important for the future operations of this organization to consider your economic support. If you are a property owner/taxpayer, we would urge you to take a look at your 2007 property tax expenditures versus your 2010 property tax expenditures. All of us have enjoyed some savings at least due in part by the efforts of this organization and the citizens of Delaware County.

For the record, our annual budget has ranged between $6,000.00 to $10,000.00 per year with the election years seeing more expenditures. 2011 is an election year. The Mayor’s office and some extremely important Muncie City Council seats are on the line. Please bear that in mind regarding any consideration you’re giving towards your continued support of the CDCGG. Our Core, Voting Members, pay a $200.00 annual dues. This is the threshold established in our bylaws to allow one to cast a vote concerning the annual election of our organization’s Officer and Board members as well on various other important issues throughout the year. It also will afford those Voting Members a weekly emailing of our Meeting Agendas and Minutes. We are amending our By-laws to accomodate a business membership, so if their is an interest to support out efforts through an entity other than individually, please contact an Officer or Board Member or the Citizens of Delaware County for Good Government.

We hope that our efforts, supported by YOU, to confront the many issues that face us here in Muncie and Delaware County can continue. We ask that you please continue to support us in 2011. ANY denominations would be accepted and greatly appreciated! If you have already made a donation to us this year, know that your investment will be held in the highest regard relative to the return on your hard-earned money.

On to other things!…..

As everyone is well aware of this is an election year for the municipalities. We’ve finally are coming to the threshold of being able to make some well deserved and long awaited changes. We’d like to think that our efforts over the past 3+ years have brought to light the very serious deficiencies that we suffer relative to having the elected officials capable of individual and creative thinking and the tough decisions that come with newly restricted revenues in the face of a recession and tax caps. Over the course of time (decades?) we’ve suffered through generations of the elite, hand-selected governing officials often synonymous with the ruling hierarchies of La Costa Nostra and the focus of local governing way too often being driven by sustaining familiar feifdoms.

This year, we are growing very optimistic with the propect of having several new faces step up and join in the effort to run for an elected office and serve their community.

Many carry some very impressive resumes. We are still very early in the candidate enrollment window (January 19 – February 18 (noon)) and we sincerely hope to see several other good citizens decide it’s time to make a difference and jump into the fray. If you rub shoulders with an individual who would make a good public steward, we would implore you to let them know and nurture their consideration, if any, to get involved!! The most current lineup of Primary Candidates can be found at:

http://www.forgoodgovernment.com/politics.html

Last week we had Mayoral candidate, Ralph Smith, come and visit us at our Executive meeting to introduce himself and answer some questions. This week it will be Ty Morton, City Council At Large candidate, the following week, Harold Mason, City Council Distric 6 candidate and the list grows as we see additional candidate filings and the approach of the Primary Elections. We’ve allotted the beginning of each meeting for guests and we hope that the candidates of all political persuasions will take advantage of the opportunity to attend. We realize that there are those in some of the political circles that don’t really embrace our efforts and will not voluntarily engage us, and that’s fine, we’ll just go out and engage them and report back.

Most recently we stumbled upon the total bungling of the Delaware Machine delinquent personal property taxes that saw $845,000.00 of taxes being discharged in the Delaware Machine sale without being escalated to a priority/judgement status in accordance with IC 6-1.1-23-9. As if that wasn’t enough, and to add insult to injury, the Delaware County Commissioner’s legal counsel, Mike Quirk, in collaboration from the Delaware County Commissioner’s President, Todd Donati, appeared to have overstepped their authority in manipulating the Treasurer and his duly contracted collections attorney into abandoning their pursuit of the collections of these taxes in favor of Mike Quirk and his partner attorney, Joe Hunter, assuming the collections and, of course, miserably failing to salvage a nickle’s worth….AND….in the process costing the taxpayers another $10,000.00 in their legal fees to boot. Great job, guys….we’re so glad you got to make a little “pocket change” off of us. If not malfeasance, certainly misfeasance.

Speaking of the Treasurer, it has been rumored that the County and City will be out another combined $4 million next year due to declining property values and delinquent taxes. Most recently we saw the publishing of 1145 properties in the tax sale of March this year. Actually, it is our belief that that the majority of these properties constitute those that weren’t sold in the nearly 3,000 property tax sale of last year. We would imagine that there might be another tax sale in the Fall to pickup those properties that have hence since fallen delinquent as well. Who would like to wager that in all the budget-making processes each year, not one consideration is ever given towards delinquent taxes?…and we wonder why these taxing units are always falling short?

And since we brought the Commissioners into the conversation, let’s share with you their most recent annual reorganization where they move on making their appointments to various boards and commissions, generally done at the first meeting of each year. Well, it appears that Commissioner Donati, et al. had spent his Christmas Holidays attending to his quid pro quo agenda and putting together his wish list of appointments for the coming year. Unfortunately, shortly into his appointing process at the first meeting of the year, we interjected that he was in violation of a County ordinance requiring him to announce said board and commission vacancies in an open meeting affording all those interested an opportunity to apply for the appointment or position…..

Ooops. We thought we heard him mumble something to the effect of amending that ordinance. At the following meeting, when the Commissioners picked up where they had left off and came to the reappointing of the Delaware County Fair Board, they reappointed the majority of the sitting Board until we once again informed the Commissioners that, by their own hands, they had passed an Ordinance last year dictating a simple majority on the very Board where they were busy appointing 13 Democrats, 6 Republicans and 2 Independents….Ooops, again. This time, a very frustrated Commissioner Donati outright stated that he was going to instruct the Commissioners attorney, Mike Quirk, to draw up an amendment to the “conflicting ordinance”…..How convenient….Don’t like the rules dictating transparency and fairness…we’ll just change them.

The Delaware County Redevelopment Commission has been very busy over the past couple years. The $8 million reserve in the Morrison TIF has literally been exhausted, even to the point that we question whether in the current economic environment, the Morrison TIF will be able to meet its own debt service….of course that’s a debt that could have easily been retired saving the taxpayers millions and freeing up tax revenues for the taxing units that serve the area, but that would have meant that either the TIF be abolished or new debt for improvements in the TIF be authorized and this would have required the blessing of the City of Muncie that now holds over half of the TIF’s assets.

So long as the Redevelopment Commission holds the retirement of the existing debt at bay, they can effectively manipulate a huge amount of captured City taxes without the City of Muncie’s input or control whatsoever. What we were able to accomplish was the release of nearly $400,000.00 of captured residential taxes in the area, much of which went back to the local schools serving the area. Watch for further manipulation of the Morrison TIF which is a cash cow for the County…at the City’s expense. Another “bone” that we picked with the Delaware County Redevelopment Commission was the issue of their legal expenses associated with their closely held “yes man”, Tom Pitman of Barnes and Thornburg out of Indianapolis. At $465.00 per hour, Mr. Pitman has spent the lions share of his time finding loop-holes in the existing TIF laws by which the DCRC has used to move the majority of reserves out to the Park One TIF and to build a roundabout at Morrison and Jackson outside the TIF area proper.

 With routine billings to the Redevelopment Commission approaching 6 figures, we protested that this service could be accomodated for far less. Commissioner Donati (the “mover-shaker” who claims to have no control over the business of the DCRC) interjected that if we could bring someone willing to to the job for free, he would be willing to entertain a change in legal counsel. Why we obviously couldn’t locate legal counsel to provide pro-bono services, we did indicate that there was several local legal entities (DeFur Voran and Beasley & Gilkison) perfectly qualified and capable of providing the service at a fraction of the cost. Ahh…but alas…unless we could bring forth a pro-bono consideration, Donati et al. weren’t interested in a change……Huh? Just gotta love the rationalization of those spending other’s money as opposed to their own. So the exploitation of our TIFs and tax dollars continues.

The 911 controversy carries on, and after discovering the complaint and all the agreements associated with said services, it appears that the City has been both overcharged and unfortunately overpaying nearly $500,000.00 per year. The fourth and last amendment to the agreement, Resolution 18-87, stipulates that the City pay between $225,000.00 and $300,000.00 per year. This Resolution can be found in the 911 complaint filings on our website: http://www.forgoodgovernment.com/Misc%20Info/911%20Complaint%20and%20agreements.pdf

Little wonder why the City sued the County for $10 million.

Okay…let’s end this alert on a positive note!….Brevini is gearing up for production and has been hiring (while painfully slow), and while we have expressed concern to the local Redevelopment officials that there is a Madison County staffing operation (Continental) involved that might not be working in our local interests, there is some hiring being done through the local Workforce Development Office. Twoson Tool, while we vehemently objected to the use of $3.5 million of the Morrison TIF reserves to move them out of the Morrison TIF and the City of Muncie, appears to be increasing their numbers as well. Then there’s the huge announcment of Progress Rail moving into the old ABB facility. 650 jobs!! All said and done it looks like over the next year, we could see an influx of about 1,100 new jobs to the area and that is very good news. Let’s keep the ball rolling and do our due diligence in moving our local governing bodies towards improved, responsible and responsive representation.

That’s all for now (although there’s a whole lot more). Have a great week.

Please share this email alert with others!!

The Citizens of Delaware County for Good Government

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