A Public Hearing on the $168 million dollar MSD project was held March 6th at 5:00 PM Muncie City Hall auditorium.
Monthly sewer bills are expected to increase 29% – $24.45 to $31.53. Stormwater from .95 cents per month to $6.00 per month. The storm water can be found on your tax bill.
Quite honestly I’m sure something will need to be done. The Stormwater increase is substantial. Raising the rates from .95 per month to $6.00 per month will generate:
Operation & Maintenance $233,000/yr
Outstanding Debt (2007) $450,000/year
Capital improvements $1 million/year
Long Term projects $2.3 million/year
Some other things to consider, and this was brought up at the hearing. Spending. Will the money collected go entirely to the Storm Water project or will is be used in other areas? The Federal mandate for separating storm water from sewers originated from the Clean Water Act of 1972. The Muncie Sanitary Department knew this projet was in the works, knew for years, possibly even decades.
Yet, stormwater tax revenue was spent on Canan Commons and the Delaware County Plaza. We are talking $248,000.00 or one full year of Operation and Maintenance cost.
But then the city sanitary district earmarked $140,000 in storm water revenue funds to cover the cost of the park’s rain gardens, native plantings and porous pavement Star Press 5-15-11
The Delaware County Stormwater Management board voted to earmark $128,000 in stormwater funds for the plaza rebuilding, which is being overseen by the county commissioners. Star Press 7-18-11
The Delaware County Plaza purchased a bench for $12,000.00 from the Stormwater funds it received. Another way to look at it, based on the old rate, would be to consider 1,000 property owners purchased the bench. Under the guise of protecting our sewers, and believing the money was spent wisely for just these two projects, we are now faced with the “bill coming due”. In fact, it appeared on our tax bills the very next month. Unfortunately, the MSD has been actively spending money from its conception. One only needs to read the State Board of Account to find how our money has been spent.
During the public input we realized the old double taxation scenario rearing its ugly head again. Every property will be taxed the stormwater charge and this includes city and county property in Delaware County. Consider a cash strapped County and the additional cost it will have to bear. That additional cost will be passed on to every person that pays taxes. Simply put, the only revenue these entities have is you.
The day before the primary election, Todd Donati, “rejected” the storm water increase. Earlier, Muncie Park superintendent, Harvey Wright said he was blind-sided by the increase. Mayor Dennis Tyler was not at the Muncie Sanitary Public hearing and the citizens of Muncie had no representation. Looks like Mayor Tyler failed to support us and failed to pass this information on to his department heads. Now, the MSD is looking at ways to give the people “incentives”.
MSD has done a fairly decent job, to date. Lowering the MSD tax levy, and the district is nearly free of State Board of Accounts (SBOA) financial violations. An aggressive, if not somewhat controversial collection of delinquent sewer charges saw the MSD staying well above the red.
We can look at Hamilton Township and the infamous sewer system. It was needed. What the residents got for their money was far more than one could ever hope. The property owners were forced to pay a fee of $20.00 per month before the work began. Today, the residents are paying close to $88.00 per month.
1996 the Delaware County Commissioners were looking for bids at $5.8 million or lower for the sewer system In addition, two bids came in for a study of the system. One at $5,000 and another at $54,000. By 1998 the cost had risen to over $7 million and in 2002 the cost was $10 million and counting. Included in the $10 million were cost over runs, lawsuits, IDEM’s condemnation of the work and horrific installations which had to be installed again.
The the cost had so inflated, Delaware County pilfered money from the Cowan Road fund to use as collateral to secure a loan for additional funds. Of course, the county sued the original contractors, won and received some compensation which was never realized by the property owners. The settlement money was needed to complete the job which was botched from the start.
Note: The Waste Water board, where it all began, included the wives of the coroner and Democrat party chair. The county commissioners appointed the board. The commissioners were Robert Donati, Bob Hartley and Ron Bonham.
By the time 2010 rolled around and the county was looking at more financial troubles. One month after the 2010 election, President Todd Donati asked for approval on a $7 million dollar bond. Included in the bond (tax dollars) was none other than a stipend for the Desoto Sewer system. $1.2 million to be exact. During the meeting President Donati said he had been helping the Royerton Sewer patrons for two years. I think they would gladly ask him to stop helping so perhaps their sewer bills would stop increasing.
I’m going to switch gears here for a moment, so please bear with me.
In 2009, Muncie City Council president, Alison Quirk introduced LOIT (Local Option Income Tax) at its highest percentage.
Three years ago, she and the majority of city council supported the tax increase. Muncie and Delaware County facing a high unemployment rate, record foreclosures and over 50% of the children on free or reduced lunch, too. The budget was not cut or reviewed and supporters of the tax increase offered this to us…”Just give up one lunch at McDonald’s per week”.
On the heels of LOIT, was Todd Donati willing and able to increase the COIT (County Option Income Tax) with the promise of its passage would be a decrease in spending. We know how that went.
There have been three BIG projects funded by Delaware County taxpayers and citizens in the last 22 years. The first was the Delaware County Justice Center, the second Royerton Sewer System and now we have the Stormwater and Sewer project. One word…”Yikes”.