From Gearbox to Madjax – history tells a story

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Muncie City Seal copy
City of Muncie Government Seal

Sometimes the best way to see the future is to dig up the past.

Larry Riley predicted the outcome of Gearbox now Madjax.  His column appeared in the local paper on January 30, 2016.  One community member claimed Riley was biased in this column, although Riley did provide compelling arguments.

the organization has no revenue stream, no signed tenants, no record of accomplishment Source: Gearbox vs Greenspace Muncie Star Press 1-30-16

Sustainable Muncie hasn’t been around as an organization long enough yet to file its first required annual financial report, having been organized only in December of 2014. Source: Gearbox vs Greenspace Muncie Star Press 1-30-16

Another minus to Gearbox is the cost: $1 million, now guaranteed by the city (if Sustainable Muncie can’t make existing or future loan payments this year, then the city’s money kicks in, but the organization is to pay back the city by the end of this year … how?) Source: Gearbox vs Greenspace Muncie Star Press 1-30-16

So involved was Mayor Dennis Tyler no other ideas could be considered.  In fact, he was silent about another proposal,  Tom Bracken’s greenspace.  Which makes one wonder why he dismissed other ideas and put Gearbox to the feasibility test.  Or Bracken’s proposal for that matter.   Mayor Tyler brought only one idea to the public.

And that’s the end of that.

Let’s look at what has transpired since Riley’s column.  At the time, City council passed an ordinance backing $1 million to be paid back by the end of 2016.

Tyler told The Star Press he wanted to loan $1 million in EDIT revenue to the group rather than just give it to Sustainable Muncie to create an obligation to be repaid. The loan is supposed to be repaid by the end of 2016.

http://www.thestarpress.com/story/news/local/2016/01/04/city-council-split-1m-gearbox-loan/78135796/

We know for a fact the money was not paid back.

“The city has not issued any money as it related to this line of credit,” officials replied through city human resources director Sarah Beach last week. Donati, who is also a Sustainable Muncie board member, told TheStar Press that the board was “trying to decide what direction we want to go with” the funding for Madjax, including the original $1 million line of credit. “Eventually, something will have to be done with it. … It’s totally Sustainable Muncie’s responsibility to pay that back and they’re looking at how to get that done.”   Source: Star Press June 6, 2017

After resignations, Madjax plans the way forward

Two months after this article appeared in the paper, the citizens of Muncie were looking at a $4.5 million dollar bond.    The bond was passed with the promise of no property taxes and a training program.  But, in June, Donati and Tyler were already considering bonding for this project, we just didn’t know about it.

Interesting to note:  The City Council had little financial information in 2016 and just a smidgeon more in 2017 yet, they still voted a big fat YES in both instances.

Let’s recap:

  • January 2016 Muncie City Council voted to loan Gearbox $1 million with no financial information
  • December 2016 Loan not paid
  • June 2017 Donati said it was Sustainable Muncie’s responsibility to pay back the money
  • August 2017 Notice for public hearing on $4.5 million bond published
  • August 2017 Muncie City Council learned of Sustainable Muncie’s debt
  • August 2017 Donati said $200,000 has been set aside by Muncie Redevelopment Commission & others  for $348,000 annual bond debt repayment (Muncie Redevelopment Commission & others)
  • August 2017 Muncie City Council voted to introduce the ordinance
  • September 2017 Public Hearing for Madjax – Sustainable Muncie
  • September 2017 Muncie City Council voted to approve the bond

Madjax was not able to pay the interest-free loan in 2016 or make any payments in 2017.  Muncie Redevelopment has set aside $200,000 to guarantee the 2018 bond payment.

This is the transparent government of Mayor Dennis Tyler.  But I digress…

 

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