Delaware County

Saturday rambling: Filing for election

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voting imageThe deadline for filing ended on Friday.  One surprise, Democrat James King filed on the Republican ticket.  He switched parties and the Republican chair, Will Statom, gave the blessing.  Last year, Stephen Smith with a record of Democrat voting, asked to be placed on the Republican ballot for mayor.  Will Statom said no.

Not surprising is a candidate, Traci Allbee, who has been a fixture in past elections.  She has no intention of campaigning or even serving the public.  Her sole purpose is to garner votes in hopes to keep a candidate the party despises from making it through the primaries.

Every election, it’s the same old song and dance.  Most are what we call “ringers” or “ghost candidates”.  To keep things interesting, the tactics are changed slightly.  Like the 2010 primaries when the Democrats filled the Republican spots with their very own candidates.

Delaware County Voting Polls Are Haunted! (click here)

The Republicans beat the Democrats at their own game by filling nearly every spot with their candidates.  “Foul!” the DHQ cried.  That’s funny, I don’t care who you are.

In 2011, Nora Powell filed with her maiden name and showed on the ballot as Nora “Evans” Powell.  Again in 2015, she pulled out her maiden name to be listed at the top of the ballot, reverting back to Powell after the elections.

So, you say?

2011 saw another candidate who filed with her maiden name.  Unfortunately, not being  chosen by the DHQ elite, she was subjected to all manner of scrutinization.   Nora was not held to the same standard.

Of course, Powell is not a “ringer” candidate by any means.  Just one who hopes to cash in on the 7% of voters known to select the first name on the ballot.  2015 saw “ghost” candidates in an unsuccessful effort to unseat the popular Linda Gregory.

Let’s go back to 2008 when the Democrats were successful in removing an elected official by placing a “ringer” on the ballot.   Bilbrey comes before Brooke.  Bilbrey received 6,000 votes and never campaigned.  DHQ was successful in getting Brooke out and their man Dunnuck in by employing the “ghost candidate” ungolden rule.  Sidenote:  Bilbrey later sued Mayor Dennis Tyler.  Don’t know the outcome.

In addition, just a few months prior to the November ’08 election, the Democrat Headquarters went on a campaign to get Vote Centers instituted.  The Republicans were not against Vote Centers.  Just the timing and the implementation was close to the election date.

Democrats, of course, making it a political football claiming it was an effort to suppress the vote.  Funny thing, after the election, with a Democrat Clerk and a Democrat-controlled election board, they never made any move to implement Vote Centers again.

Democrats as well as Republican are successful in inciting emotional outrage where none exists as well as claiming the Voter ID law limits voters.  You need an ID to cash a check.  Surely an election should fall under the same scrutiny.  Based on unknown candidate Bilbrey’s 6,000 votes, not sure elections and its process all that important.

Simply put, placing fake candidates on the ballot is a covert manipulation of your vote.  Sincerely hope people recognize it as such and just say no.

Gotta go…see you all when I see you all…

Saturday rambling: Safety first – aligning words with actions

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Walking down memory lane

Let’s take a walk down memory lane.  2013 was the year when MCS planned to stop bus service unless the referendum was passed.  The Democrat Party held a press conference in support of the $45 million tax increase.  At that time, Democrat Headquarters property was tax exempt.  This property would be exempt from paying the tax.  I’m not sure if they pay a voluntary PILOT (Payment In Lieu Of Property Taxes), it does seem if there is so much concern for safety, they would gladly pay PILOT.

Plans, plans and more plans

Muncie Community Schools claimed they were working with the City of Muncie on a plan to get children back and forth to school safely.  At the public hearing in December 2013 before the Indiana Department of Education, no one from the CABC 123 Apple copy copyity of Muncie presented any plan.  In fact, not one representative from the city spoke on any plan.  A member of the IDOE board asked if there was a plan.  The answer was no.  No fiscal plan and no safety plan.

 

Income tax increase

Fast forward to September 1st, 2015 when Mayor Tyler announced the LOIT tax would be passScreen Shot 2015-10-30 at 4.36.56 PMed.  43% increase in income taxes for employees all over Delaware County.  Muncie was denied renewal of the SAFER grant and although the Mayor assured the public the city had enough money to continue public safety, we didn’t.  Hence, the passing of the tax in 14 days.

The 2016 City budget had been crafted in August 2015. Neither the Mayor or Muncie City Council ever mentioned the possibility funds would be short.  Leading citizens to believe public safety monies were available in the budget.   Mayor Tyler presented the LOIT tax, and I suppose the lack of funds which no one seemed to notice may have been justified. Still, if safety is foremost in the Mayor’s mind, he certainly didn’t seem to be monitoring it closely.

The Great Debate – Safety

The big debate now is if the Muncie Community Schools should be closed or delayed because of weather.  It shows up every winter season.  Yet, MCS has a history of no delays and seldom closes.  The winters of 2014 & 2015 were certainly out of the norm.  Extreme weather conditions warranted the closing of schools, businesses and canceling of events.

Mayor Tyler did not miss the opportunity to weigh in through his Twitter account.

Tyler tweet school closing 1-13-16

Words vs. Actions

This brings me to aligning words with actions.  While the Mayor feels compelled to criticize Muncie Comunity Schools, he seems to be oblivious to the children, teenagers and adults which are forced to walk in the streets because the City of Muncie doesn’t enforce the ordinance of snow removal from sidewalks.

Certainly, it is a difficult ordinance to enforce.  Yet, not that difficult it seems.  Last year, a property owner was clearing the sidewalks of his property.   The ordinance police showed up and wanted to levy a fine against the owner for complying with the city ordinance.   As it goes, the citizen had blown some snow into a street which had not yet been plowed.  Police were called and nothing came of it.  To my knowledge, no one from the city addressed the incident.

Yet all around the vicinity were sidewalks that had not been cleared.  Go figure…

Speed limits and stop signs

The City of Muncie is busy lowering speed limits on streets and installing stop signs in obscure locations, they can’t seem to come up with a safety plan or a way to enforce their own ordinances.

If safety is a concern, might one suggest the Mayor use some of the tax dollars he increased to make our sidewalks safe to walk on in the winter months?  Not sure how safe Memorial or Tillotson is for foot traffic, especially in the early morning and evening hours.

In conclusion

All this just to say, align their words with actions.  So, I’ll leave you with an op-ed cleverly written and laced with humor:

Muncie has a case of the ‘slows’

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saturday rambling: TIF Districts, again

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mouse trap & money

“At some point the State is going to have to step in and do something about TIFs,” said Bainbridge. “If they don’t the whole State could turn into one. They might come to the point where they have to do what California did, and ban them altogether.”

Please see the links listed below:

Hicks: Economic development is important

Tax increment financing not bringing in more jobs or income, says analysis

Indiana state study slams economic benefits of TIFs

Revisiting TIFs (PDF)

2015 Indiana Tax Incentive Evaluation (TIF evaluation begins on page 97)

 

 

 

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

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Screen Shot 2015-10-30 at 4.36.56 PM

‘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.”

Saturday morning rambling: Fiscal Health – City of Muncie: Business as usual

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In light of the recent adoption of Local Option Income Tax (LOIT), this may be the perfect time to examine the fiscal health of our city.  The report covers 2013 and 2014 and does a comparison between the two years.  Being an informed citizen is a good thing, it’s hard to pull the wool over eyes that see.

In addition, knowledge is a tool to prepare for events which can affect a lifestyle.  Lowering Your Income Tax (LOIT) which was first mentioned by the Muncie mayor and adopted 14 days later by Muncie City Council is one such thing.  Two weeks is barely enough time to get the information out to the masses.

One interesting aspect is the information on the city revenue has been in the hands of nine city council members, one mayor and one controller for three years.  Yet, there was never a word said at council meetings, in the newspaper or during State of the City addresses.  It was all puppy dogs and happiness.

In the ranks of the people, the concern about the finances was growing.  How in the world is the city paying for all this?  No one knew.  None of this has taken us off guard, seeing it coming down the pike.  Interesting the very ones with information at their fingertips either never saw it (odd) or ignored it (likely).

Do need to recognize the speed in which the city racked up $65 million in debt as well as the lightening speed in which a tax was imposed upon every working stiff.

Please feel free to take a look at the fiscal health report.   You will find in nearly every category a decrease in revenue and an increase in expenditures.  An increase in government owned acreage, an increase in TIF, an increase in local taxes.   It’s business as usual.

Fiscal Health Muncie 2013-2014