Delaware County

MRC = Muncie Realestate Commission

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todd donatiDirector of the Muncie Redevelopment Commission speaks to the issue of Mitchell School.

Todd Donati shared his first post.

There is a lot of misinformation and confusion going around that needs to be addressed. We are going to invite all the entities involved with the misinformation and either clear this all up and determine if the MRC will continue with the projects in play. The MRC had always shown interest in some of the properties that the MCS had to offer, including Mitchell, Storer, Sutton and land on Cornbread Rd.

The MRC had been contacted by a demolition company out of Richmond, IN that wanted to demo the schools for salvage. The MRC could not really do anything with the properties with buildings in place. The demolition company said they really did not want the land. So the demolition company offered the land to the MRC, for free, once they removed the buildings. The MRC board agreed to this only after we contacted BSU and asked them if they were interested in any of the properties. They had the right to buy them all.

The MRC was told that they did not have any interest in any of the properties but Northside MS. You have seen the recorded document waiving their right to buy. So the MRC board agreed to donate $658,600 to the MCS if they were to accept the $125,000 offer from the demo company. This would garner the MCS much needed revenue, this would allow the MCS to achieve their objective, illuminate the liability of taking care of these abandoned buildings and help generate at least $20- $50 million in taxable revenue on these combined properties.

The MRC board did not close these schools. The MRC board, nor the City of Muncie administration did not create the financial crisis within the MCS. The MRC board was only trying to create opportunities for the community we support. It seems that there are comments out there that we, the MRC and the City of Muncie asked BSU to give these schools up when in fact, BSU really wanted them. We have no interest in doing that. The MRC board would like to ask BSU if in fact they do want these schools.

The MRC board does not want to get involved with any form of miscommunication, especially with our community partners. And, we feel that BSU is a very valuable and important community partner. If BSU wants these schools, our board is prepared to take action. However, it needs to be BSU that openly states that this is what they want…not hearsay comments from unauthorized citizens. 


There were no lies made or personal gains made from anyone in this group. I appreciate the hard work and dedicated members of the Muncie Redevelopment Commission. They volunteer their time to make our community better.

Disclaimer: The only changes made to this public post is breaking the comment into paragraphs for easier reading.  Nothing else has been altered.

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A word from Larry Riley

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Larry Riley
Yesterday at 5:26pm ·
I still meet regularly with “the informants,” the people who touched off the federal investigation of the Muncie city administration, those persistent folks who doggedly kept pestering the FBI until agents concluded they were, indeed, onto something.
Since November of 2015, FBI agents talked to them dozens of times and until perhaps summer of last year continued to solicit information from at least one of them. As recently as six weeks ago, the FBI still was interviewing other people.
Provided that one day the investigation ends – hopefully with more indictments – I will ask permission to name the informants. They are heroes in my book and deserve the gratification of an entire community. Their relentless tenacity, perhaps obstinacy is a better word, won out.
I just found out about another development that I have to suspect is connected to the FBI’s investigation: as of two months ago, Arron Kidder is no longer part of the Dennis Tyler city administration.
Arron Mathew Kidder went to Elkhart Memorial High School and came to BSU, where he majored in political science and graduated December of 2012. While still in school, he interned for Brad Bookout’s consulting company and got involved in the Delaware County Redevelopment Commission. When Tyler took over the mayor’s office in 2012, Bookout did some consulting for the new administration and hired Kidder, who eventually handled most of the city’s grant-writing work. A year later, Kidder spun off his own consulting firm, Hawkins Consulting Inc., and contracted with the city to write grants.
In 2014, he earned $35,000 from the city, his only consulting client, who gave him an office next to the mayor’s. Kidder began assuming more and more duties that typically would have gone to a deputy mayor, a position Tyler has not filled. The next year, 2015, with a whopping contractual increase, Kidder earned more than $60,000, and in 2016, he got $55,000, an amount in excess of the salaries of all but a couple city department heads.
Kidder sat in for the mayor on a handful of boards. He regularly attended Muncie Board of Public Works meetings as the mayor’s emissary, bringing contracts Tyler wanted approved and other matters before the three-member panel, who exist to do the mayor’s bidding. Several times I recall Kidder telling the board that the city needed to tear down condemned houses under emergency conditions and that the administration had obtained quotes from two companies to do the work. The lower quote would invariably be from the private firm owned by the city’s Building Commissioner, Craig Nichols, who would have condemned the houses in the first place and declared the emergency.
I first wrote in February of 2016 that some of those houses Nichols’ firm was paid to demolish hadn’t existed: they were phantom demolitions. The administration quickly created a cover story claiming that all the addresses were mere clerical mistakes, but by then, the FBI, already probing into Muncie Sanitary District, had added Nichols’ billings to their investigation.
Six months later, The Star Press pulled the plug on my column-writing. Four months after that, the FBI raided the city building commissioner’s office and seized records. A month later, February of 2017, Nichols was indicted on 33 felony counts, almost all related to work he did for the city, including the phantom demolitions and the attempted cover-up I wrote about.
Kidder certainly was a rising star in the Tyler administration. Tyler put him on several local boards, including the Aviation Authority. Kidder lived in a house he rented from the vice-chair of the Delaware County Democratic Party and he involved himself in party activities. Last September, The Star Press wrote a glowing profile of Kidder in a section on up-and-coming Muncie leaders.
Then, two months later, Kidder was suddenly gone. No announcement.
Through November when he got his last check, Kidder had received $66,000 from the city in 2017.
Not many Ball State graduates in their first position out of college knock down $60,000-plus annual salaries, and I can’t imagine many young people in their mid-20s simply walking away from that kind of money. Not without a whole lotta motivation, that is.
Please share this with any Muncie people still hoping justice prevails.

Muncie Tax & Finance Dashboard

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Have you ever wondered about Muncie’s finances or how the people on the city’s finance committee figure how to spend it?   I know, it’s a mystery, right?   Well, not any longer.  Now you too can be a pseudo city controller.  It’s easy.  We’ll show how simple it can be.  And it’s free.

The new report format is not as fancy as the older reports.  Not as detailed, either.  Nevertheless, it tells a story of Muncie from 2011-2017 in a clean, easy to read and understandable format.  Muncie Politics has prepared two reports for you to review.

The first is the Muncie Tax Finance dashboard 2011-17.   It’s Muncie at-a-glance report.

Muncie Tax Finance dashboard 2011-17

The next report Muncie Tax and Finance Time Comparison 2012-17 displays the tax rates and basic information in a clear timeline.  Yep, the tax levy has increased every year.  As well as the city payroll.  2015 wasn’t a good year for Muncie or Delaware County residents.

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September 2015 the city raised a 43% income tax.  From start to finish it took 14 days to pass that tax.  Amazing, huh?   The sad part is, no one even noticed prior to the tax increase the city finances were shaky.  That’s o.k. because the city building commissioner received a nice raise and his company demolished buildings paid from the increased EDIT in 2016.

See, folks, it’s all good.

Muncie Tax and Finance Time Comparison 2012-17

Now, if you want to explore the city’s taxes and finances all one has to do is click on the image below.   Enter your favorite government agency and then choose the type of report.  Bam! You are good to go!

Indiana Gateway Interactive Tool

You will be armed with enough information to make a wise decision at the polls come election time.   When an elected official, an appointed “public” employee, or a candidate tell you something you’ll be able to discern if it is true or if they are just blowing smoke.   A wonderful position to be: an informed citizen.   A scary thing to those who lust after monetary gain for their benefit.

Source: in.gov/itp

Muncie Community Schools – Why MCS needs to change

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Why does MCS need to change?  Why is it imperative Muncie Community Schools must look outside the box?   It seems obvious, the old standard way of running the district is broken, it is ineffective, outdated and MCS is labeled as a “distressed district”.

Enter into House Bill 1315 and the latest amendment current as of 1-19-18  Here you can read the bill and read the amendments.

Here’s what we can glean so far.  Ball State University would like to manage the school district.  An appointed board of seven members, two which will be appointed by the Mayor of Muncie and Muncie City Council.    The board will hire a superintendent.  MCS may receive additional funds from the State of Indiana, but no funds from Ball State University will be used.   MCS employees will still be MCS employees.  Of course, this is only a short summary and more will be available.

Listen to the interview with President Mearns on Indiana Public Radio.

We don’t want to spend much time on how Muncie Community Schools became Distressed School District with a state take-over, but we do need to have a look at the history.

The chatter on social media sites is awash with opinions and comments.

One of the issues seems to be the loss of voting for school board members. However, we had five elected board members prior to the state take-over.  Today the board has absolutely no power.  At the most, they’re consulted by the emergency managers, they can’t vote on anything.  The superintendent is powerless, too.  He’s a lame duck.  State votes to take over Muncie Community Schools 

Less than two months past  Muncie Teachers Association and others supported relinquishing that right.  Knowing the State would make elected officials ineffective and all power removed and handed over to a hired company – the goal was achieved.  What’s the difference?

Muncie Community Schools has never had a solid long-term plan.

Circa 2005 the district embarked upon an aggressive improvement plan.  Bonding out approximately $50 million in debt.  Despite all the economic factors, such as the loss of jobs, decrease in enrollment and population, businesses shutting down the board decided to move ahead with the bond.

In 2010 the Blue Ribbon Task Force presented the administrators for consideration a plan for the district.    It collected dust until 2013 when the school board voted to consolidate the two high schools.  This after the referendum was defeated.

Prior to the referendum, MCS held four Town Hall meetings presenting several proposals for the district, yet at the State hearing for busing, we found the district had no plan.   No one from the City of Muncie, not the mayor, not the chief of police presented a safety plan although we were told there was one.  NO PLAN – let this sink in.

Doing the same thing and expecting results.

The administrators and boards have used the same plans for decades.  It consisted of shutting down schools or borrowing.  That’s it.   They ignored State Board of Accounts audits.  Ignored repeated deficit line items.  The newest school sold for pennies while keeping open deteriorating elementary schools. A short-term fix was all we were offered.  The $10 million bond for school repairs dumped into the general fund and used for administrative purposes.  No one can say for certain how that money was spent.

Debt reports:

Original bond information:  MCS 2014 Debt bond 1-27-18

Debt summary 2013 to 2017 MCS Debt Reports 2013-16 1-28-18

Having no plans, or limited plans have proven to not do a darn thing for moving Muncie Community Schools forward.  If the label “distressed” isn’t a wake-up call for change, nothing will open your eyes.

A fresh new plan:

Partnering with Ball State University, community organizations, and individuals, the school board, the elected officials in a collaborative and healthy environment will do more for our children and school district.  We must set aside our political ideologies, desire for control and stop thinking about our own wants over the needs of the most important people…the students of Muncie Community Schools.  A good school district will do more for Muncie then all the economic development we spend millions to produce with very little return on our investment.   Larry Riley penned a column several years ago similar BSU’s proposal. Incremental steps won’t help Muncie Community Schools

Accomplishing a working environment conducive to education and economic development may be the hardest thing the area has ever had to do.   Simply because it’s not in our nature to put aside our turf wars and think outside the box.

Nothing else has worked.

 

 

 

All Along the Watchtower – Fairness

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There must be some way out of here
Said the joker to the thief
There’s too much confusion, I can’t get no relief
Businessmen, they drink my wine
Plowmen dig my earth
None of them along the line know what any of it is worth

No reason to get excited, the thief, he kindly spoke
There are many here among us who feel that life is but a joke
But you and I, we’ve been through that, and this is not our fate
So let us not talk falsely now, the hour is getting late

Bob Dylan

With everything that has been happening and the city in a perpetual state of turmoil, it’s difficult to stay focused.  So much to watch in this crazily contradictory place called Muncie.   We have a ton of facts, even more, opinions.   Do we have an understanding of current events?   Do we see the big and bigger picture?   Are we examining the past and the present?  Are we looking at personalities, self-gratification, greed?  Is there an end goal of this administration we aren’t seeing?  Hoping we can find answers to these questions.   Even better..get our grey cells expanding and be forever watchful.

Hats off to the EMS supporters which provided information we can use.  Much of the time, we don’t give EMS a thought until we need their services.   One good thing which came from Mayor Tyler’s proposal: he helped to spotlight an integral branch of public safety.  We’ve learned about their duties, their costs, their equipment and their dedication to their jobs.  DCEMS provided clear facts, but the war is not over yet.

No reason to get excited, the thief, he kindly spoke

Mayor Tyler gave an impassioned speech asking the Muncie City Council to table ordinance 68-17.    He made reference to emails from unknown firefighters which he had distributed to members of the council.   His voice rose with emotion and determination at times.   Three council members already a no vote, Tyler needed to convince the remaining members to approve the tabling.  No doubt, the six-member party loyalists had been schooled on their vote prior to the meeting.

He needed to “correct the total unfairness to the citizens and taxpayers of Muncie, Indiana.”    He went on to say “the citizens of Muncie in 40 years has received zero dollars in a program they participated in.”  Mayor Canan began the first responder’s program in 2003.   Not quite 40 years Mayor Tyler.

Does Mayor Tyler think our payments to the county covering a portion of EMS services is going to end with the city’s ambulance service?  No, we’ll still pay the same.  In fact, we will be paying for county and city ambulance services.  Where is the fairness in that one, Mayor Tyler?

Mayor Tyler and Chief Bell believe this will be a profitable department.  They need to borrow just to get the program off the ground.    Let’s put that all aside for a minute and look at the past six years of the Tyler administration.

During the 2011 Mayoral debate, Tyler said Muncie had plenty of money.  As soon as he was voted in he began to spend it, too.  A “surplus” left by former Mayor McShurley to cover the cost of MFD if and when the SAFER grant ended.  She campaigned on keeping the MFD staffed.  Mayor Tyler, on the other hand, saw the $8 million as an open checkbook to spend.  He made no effort to prepare for the inevitable loss of the SAFER grant.  He had the money, he could have deposited it in a “safer” fund.  It doesn’t take much to add a line item to the budget.

Or pass an income tax.

Three years into his administration, the city realizes it is coming up short.  Guess no one noticed the revenue statements.  The EDIT and LOIT taxes was passed in 14 days.  That’s a record.  Mayor Tyler, where is the fairness to the citizens of Muncie?  Did you allow the citizens of Muncie time to examine the tax and question the city on their expenditures?

Mayor Tyler was it fair to the citizens and taxpayers of Muncie to filter tax dollars to Craig Nichols’ companies?    Where was your sense of fairness then?   How fair is it to the citizens of Muncie when MSD purchased the flea market well over the assessed value?  You said, “All I know is it’s an expensive project”.  It sure is, Mayor, when deals like these are brokered.   Do you believe the citizens were treated fairly?

Mayor Tyler, is your definition of fairness to withhold financial information on attorney fees?  Is this fair to the citizens who will be footing the bill?  From State agencies to news sources to the citizens no one, except maybe Tyler, believes this is fair.

In six years Mayor Tyler has never had any department become self-sustaining.  He was handed two well-organized and re-structured departments, Prairie Creek Reservoir and Building Department.  Today PCR running over budget.   The Building Department a cash cow for the on-leave building commissioner.    Tuhey Pool mismanaged by the company Tyler hired and it lost nearly $100,000 in ’16.

And all this isn’t even the half of it.

If Mayor Tyler could truly make a department self-sustaining he would have done it by now and there would be no need for increased tax levies or 43% income tax.   The environment Tyler operates in is not conducive to fairness or good fiscal management.  No one in all good conscience could use these terms to describe his administration.

What is the true purpose of Mayor’s proposal?   Is it political?   Will he involve the citizens in his political games?  Disregarding the safety and services and placing us smack dab in the middle of his childish actions?  You bet he will.    That’s his definition of fairness.

All Along the Watchtower is where we need to be standing.  Watching with our eyes every move this administration makes.

Muncie City E.M.S. – What’s it all about?

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January 4, 2018, Muncie City Council E.M.S.  committee met to discuss a city-run EMS.  Members of the committee: Jerry Dishman, Julius Anderson and Brad Polk.  The EMS committee members received the feasibility study at the meeting.  Other members of city council in attendance, Dan Ridenour, Linda Gregory, Lynn Peters and Nora Powell each received a copy at the conclusion of the meeting.

Brad Polk recommended they table the vote until the study could be researched further.  He doesn’t believe four days would provide enough time to assess the information.  Polk wanted the committee to meet again after council members had time to digest the study.    Anderson was against tabling on Monday.   No one was sure if the remaining members, Doug Marshall and Alison Quirk had received their copy.   Muncie City Council will meet again January 8, 2018.

So why is the Mayor and City Council doing this?  It’s not because of response times, or wear and tear on the vehicles.  In fact, it wasn’t even to provide better services.    It is about making money.  Visitors to City Hall auditorium were greeted with display screens which read “Making City EMS Profitable”.

E.M.S.  (Extra Money to Spend)

It’s all about adding more money to the city coffers. Although guaranteed there are other ulterior motives mixed in.   Mayor Dennis Tyler believes he can make this department profitable and the extra money could be returned back to the city.    This explains why the ordinance was changed from a designated fund for revenue to being deposited into the general fund.  Just to clarify, the ordinance was changed on the very day it was to be voted on.  What’s that old sayin’ “If ya ain’t buildin’, ya ain’t grafting.”

Let’s take a look at some of the history of Muncie’s finances over the past six years.  The list is not exhaustive, mind you.

January 1, 2012, Mayor Tyler took office with an $8 million surplus, for lack of a better word.    That has all been spent and under his administration, the city tax levy increased every year. Mayor Tyler is quick to blame property tax caps, yet continues to acquire properties which are removed from the tax rolls and spend like there is no such thing as a “cap”.

But, I digress…

In addition to the $8 million, Mayor Tyler was handed two self-sustaining city departments.    One would be the Buiding Commission and the other was Prairie Creek Reservoir.   The latter included a revolving fund.  Prairie Creek had never made a profit until the McShurley administration.

Today Prairie Creek is operating in the red.  And you are familiar with the workings of the Building Commission Dept.  If not, we’ll bring you up to speed.   The building commissioner, Craig Nichols, was arrested and charged with 34 felonies.    The city paid his companies for work not done and contracts well above the what other contractors would have charged.  Nichols demolished vacant properties and the city administration used other property addresses to cover-up the demolitions of empty lots citing it as a “clerical error”.  Despite all the available information, neither the Mayor nor the Muncie City Council or any city attorneys made any effort to investigate the allegations of misused tax dollars.    Nichols is on unpaid leave from the department.

By 2015, the city was unable to finance public safety and passed a 43% income tax in 14 days.  That’s a record, folks.   In 2016, the FBI began to take a serious look at the City of Muncie.  And in 2017 the arrest of Craig Nichols.  Four months later the FBI raided the Muncie Sanitary District and no arrests to date.  The ex-chief of police, Steve Stewart, filed a lawsuit against the city.    By this time the city had put a team of high powered and expensive attorneys on their payroll.   Despite repeated requests for the cost of the attorney fees, the city has refused to provide any financial information.  Mayor Tyler claims his administration is and always has been transparent.

The purpose of city-run E.M.S. (Extra Money to Spend)

There seems to be only one purpose of a Muncie run E.M.S. and it would be to “make money”.   Check this slide out and tell me if this doesn’t fill your heart with confidence in our Mayor’s transparent government.

How to pay EMS 1-4-18 copy