Saturday Morning Ramblings: For the people “I will never lie to you” Mayor

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‘Morning to the good people of the city.  Now that the pesky Lowering Our Income Tax has been approved by the Mayor of Muncie and the Muncie City Council in a record 14 days, it’s time to move on to what we may expect in the next four years.

Yes, the Mayor of Muncie, after spending nearly four years telling the unsuspecting public the city was financially stable and there would be no additional taxes, has passed a 43% income tax.  Mayor Tyler said even without the SAFER grant, the city still had the money to fund the Muncie Fire Department.  However, on September 1st, 2015, the paper reported Mayor Tyler was going to propose the Local Option Income Tax.   14 days later it was approved by Muncie City Council.  That’s speedy.

Mayor Tyler’s excuse to remove $8 million dollars from your wallet was none other then “Property Tax Caps”.  Yet, the Mayor has been instrumental in indebting us to the tune of nearly $65 million, increasing the budget yearly, spending more than it takes in and increasing the city tax levy until almost every property in Muncie has reached that cap.

Be honest, does that sound like the financial problems stem from the tax caps or from a government that enjoys spending money?  I suppose if the tax caps were a legitimate concern, instead of a worn out excuse, the Mayor and the City Council would have been more aware of their financial limitations.  It never even crossed their minds.

City Council crafted a budget in 2012, again in 2013, another budget in 2014 and recently 2015.  Despite having every financial document in their possession, no one noticed the “Tax Caps” problem?  None of them noticed negative balances?  None of them saw the revenue decreases?

Maybe the problem isn’t the tax caps at all.  Instead, it’s a convenient excuse which sits on the financial shelf collecting dust until it’s needed.

The next four years is when the rubber meets the road.  I am pretty sure, the city has tapped all the available tax sources.  Any additional property taxes generated from TIF district will go to pay the bond payments.  The hope is all the building and the new hotel will generate a ton of convention center traffic.    We’ll be finding people who want to buy the properties which have sat vacant for years, businesses looking to relocate will gravitate to Muncie.

The truth is, there is no wiggle room left.

Well, we still have fees.  There is no cap on fees.  Mayor Tyler asked EMS to increase their ambulance fees $100 and the additional revenue given to the city.  That was a no go.  The animal shelter recently began charging a fee for animals surrendered.  How about raising the Prairie Creek dock fees, increasing camping rates, daily fishing passes?  Will Heekin Park see an increase in cabin rental, or entrance fees and food prices raised at Tuhey Pool?

If the Village Apartments get sold, will this void the 10-year tax abatement with a new owner?  How about the $10,000 in unpaid property taxes for a new business, will that be paid back to the city if it never opens?  Can we start holding track meets at the old Wilson school?  The city owns the track now and perhaps we could rent it out.

Or maybe we can take a page out of the previous budget cutting the council employed.  We could shut down the animal shelter, turn off 1/2 of the city street lights, fire 12 people, reduce police fuel, remove Tuhey Pool utilities from the budget, and as a very last resort, take away the mayor’s copier.  We couldn’t afford the copier or Channel 60 in 2011, we may just need to do without in 2016.

When Mayor Tyler announced his re-election bid, he was quoted “I will never lie to you.”

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