When: March 7, 2015
Time: 10:00 AM
Where: First Church of the Nazarene,
3101 N. Benton Road Muncie, IN
Additional information, please click on FairTax Summit Flyer!
TIF Districts, two job openings in Delaware County all rolled into one opinion column. Nice transition.
The candidate filing has ended for the 2015 primary. Few surprises to be found. Davenport dropped his challenge against incumbent Mayor Dennis Tyler. Nora Powell back on the ballot tossing aside her pen name Nora Powell for her ballot name, Nora Evans Powell. She appeals to the 7% voter base who chooses the first name on the ballot. Hey, a girl needs to get a vote where she can.
Three Republicans running in two Republican districts. This is as exciting an election as one can get, folks. I didn’t expect any R’s to run for other offices, no one did. The Republican chair is likely to turn-off prospective candidates as he has done in the past. It’s kind of a waste of money, time, and effort. This may be lower than last year in regards to voter turnout. The interest is not there, the candidates are lacking, and creative plans are missing.
I miss the old election campaign stumping, when candidates actually had a platform. Nevertheless, the city is facing a looming $62 million in debts and we will continue to imagine the possibilities. I would prefer to have the incumbents continue their place at the table to see creative budgeting in action. Last time the elected officials faced a mere $3 million deficit, the street lights were scheduled to be shut off, animal shelter closed and 12 employees cut from the payroll. They saved a ton of money by cutting the Mayor’s Office copier and supplies.
Ex-president Sam Marshall wanted to cut Tuhey Pool utilities in his last month of office. Although, his cuts were asked to be read into the Muncie City Council minutes, it never happened. Maybe with a new city clerk, one can get that information. Emails to the office never get a response. Maybe that will change. Maybe, maybe, maybe…
I guess it is safe to say, the $2.00 hydrant fee never materialized. Instead, we saw over $3.00 charge on our water bills. Local Option Income Tax was not passed at the highest percentage. It’s still waiting to make a comeback. Muncie ending for the second time with a sizable operating balance increased the tax levy and the budget. A line item added to the budget for a newly created position while an employee of Prairie Creek was let go due to budget restraints. Lack of revenue caused the mowing crew to stop mowing.
Five weeks into 2015, we already earmarked $500,000 spending. Nobody outside of Muncie really cares how Muncie runs. Well, until they find $250,000 of Federal bucks to fix up three houses worth pennies on the Federal dollar. The Mayor said visitors to Central High School would see these homes and perhaps want to invest here.
There is a bright side to all this. No longer are we bombarded with accusations of affairs, nepotism, cronyism, embezzlement, drug addiction and we finally settled the closing of Ninth & Tenth Street railroad crossings. Barton lost her hard fought battle when Mayor Tyler took the reins.
Two of the five lawsuits have been settled against the mayor and the city. Nothing on the Mayor’s appeal to the State of Indiana’s $12,500 fine against Advanced Walls & Ceilings. The newspaper reported on it along with the $50,000 City Hall landscaping a year after the fact.
I sure hope the economic investment kicks in to generate some revenue soon. We surely need jobs, living wage jobs.
Tomorrow is another day…stay tuned.
But we need to acknowledge the extent to which we’re banking, literally, on the success of the development now that the city of Muncie is the primary financial investor in the project — to the tune of $30 million. Larry Riley – Muncie goes all-in on hotel Star Press
Riley’s column took me off guard because there was no warning. Certainly borrowing $30 million is newsworthy. Yet, the paper didn’t report on Muncie City Council’s vote. With the additional borrowing, the grand total of debt accrued since June 2013 has reached $55 million. I’m sure there is more, good luck in researching it, though.
An on-line commenter said it shouldn’t have been a shock. He had presented over the summer to City Council regarding the bond. I went to the City of Muncie’s website to review city council’s minutes. Unfortunately, the last minutes posted – June 2014. Muncie Redevelopment Commission minutes most current is 2010, too.
He went on to post the financing was a done deal, just taking longer than expected. And if the financing didn’t go through, the City of Muncie would own the hotel property. Initially we were told the private financing was a done deal. Ground was broken and no mention of the financing problems, no mention city would be the sole financer. How can we be assured of something proving to be unstable financing? We simply can’t. Read the rest of this entry »
You can’t make this stuff up.
In the summer of 2013, the City of Muncie embarked on two projects. One was Prairie Creek Reservoir bathhouse and the other remodeling of City Hall. At the city council meeting the bond issuance was voted on (a yes vote, no surprise) and the bond debt was $4,000,000.00.
We heard from city grant writers of the private donations for PCR, unfortunately, it had to be mums the word on donors. I watched from the sidelines of the citizens gallery as council woman Mary Jo Barton shook her head in disbelief at the condition of City Hall.
True to form, she most likely forgot the requests for money for upkeep and repairs. Forgot about the information of the leaking roof or curled up carpeting. Forgot she consistently voted no for any repair money. Imagine for a moment if the roof had been repaired when needed, could have avoided $600.000 expense. Sadly, we will never know the true cost of a roof repair. There was no need to pursue it. Council said NO.
I can’t tell you the exact date City Hall was built, but it was during the Carey administration. For decades, no money was allocated for maintenance on the building. When the previous mayor requested funds, you can imagine all the comments on the newspaper forum. One even said there was no need to budget, as it was a newer building. Mayor McShurley was crazy to ask the council for money. Indeed she was.
However, all buildings, even 25 year old ones, require general maintenance now and then. The point is, citizens were aware of the roof leaking as far back as circa 2010, but a person with over 20 years as a sitting council person did not?
So we fast forward to 2014 and find that not only did we pay for new landscaping to replace maturing and beautiful plants, we get to replace the roof at a tune of $600,000.00.
The metal roof, which is supposed to have a 50 year warranty, is approximately 25 years old. Half the life span of metal roofs and a little better than an asphalt shingled one. President of Muncie Economic Development, the one who presented the bond to the city council, said the roof was improperly installed and the warranty has been voided. Mayor Tyler has been reported to blame the previous administration for not allocating funds. So, there you have it.
According to Todd Donati, since the roof was improperly installed, there is no warranty recourse. Once again, the taxpayers are on the hook, financing less than stellar craftsmanship. We had the sting of the Justice Center and the Gawd awful construction, in which we saw cost overruns, additional bonding, lawsuits, etc. The Justice Center was so poorly designed, it actually is an ineffective building for its intending purpose.
Of course, who could forget the Royerton Sewer System fiasco, another shoddy government project in which parts had to be replaced. Once again at the taxpayers expense. Time does not allow for listing all the mismanagements of these projects.
So, today, we can add the City Hall roof to the list. Or can we? Has anybody seen the reports and the costs associated with the replacement or repair of this roof. Not really.
An excerpt from Muncie City Council June 2014 meeting minutes:
Committee Reports: Barton asks if he (Energy Systems Group) did repair the roof. Koons stated they have provided several options to the Building Commissioner and it wasn’t part of the agreement.
It appears the only option considered is a complete tear-off and an additional $600,000. If you are interested in the other options, get in touch with the Building Commissioner.
The Road to Prosperity
September began with a bang when the State of Indiana levied fines of $12,500 on a local construction company for work being done at Muncie’s City Hall. The city’s building commissioner, who is the owner of the company, Advanced Walls and Ceilings, said he took a hands off approach when his business was awarded a contract and knew nothing about the violations, as well as Mayor Tyler. Mayor Tyler plans to appeal to the State of Indiana.
Last week the Muncie Star Press newspaper reported the Building Commission tagged the headquarters of Team Democrat candidates for code violations. There was no construction or remodeling going on, and no other units received violations.
The initial implication of the red-tagging was that the dissidents — who prefer to be considered the mainstream Democrats now, as was noted in an earlier W/R column — had been targeted by appointees of Mayor Dennis Tyler, the standard-bearer of the mainstream Democratic Party.
Source: W/R REPORT: Dissident Dems red-tagged by city Star Press 9-7-14
The building commissioner could not be reached for comment. The mayor however did comment.
“No, absolutely not,” Tyler said. “I will not allow them to be treated any differently than any other organization.” Source: W/R REPORT: Dissident Dems red-tagged by city 9-7-14
Well, O.K. Let’s move on. Read the rest of this entry »
Lots of things have been happening here, there and everywhere. Hot topics include Indiana’s surplus, education and local city & county events. Let’s go on a journey.
In 1998, Indiana had a record surplus of $2 billion, taxes were cut and then Governor O’Bannon increased spending for K-12 and higher education, and additional expenditures. Circa 2000 the State of Indiana saw the surplus depleted and on the way to losing 120,000 manufacturing jobs. Tax revenue fell and there was no cushion for Indiana to lean on.
Fast forward to 2014 and a budget surplus. The Democrats are mad as heck about this, claiming the books are cooked. Well, we’ll see if we are still operating in the black in 2016, unlike 2000. I suppose the good old days of being broke are more attractive. I dunno.
The biggest complaint? The education system not properly funded. However, according to the latest NEA report:
PERCENTAGE OF REVENUE FOR PUBLIC K–12 SCHOOLS FROM STATE GOVERNMENTS, 2012–13 Indiana ranks 13 nationally. Or up two points from 2011-2012
PERCENTAGE OF REVENUE FOR PUBLIC K–12 SCHOOLS FROM LOCAL GOVERNMENTS, 2012–13 Indiana ranks 36 nationally. Unchanged from 2011-2012.
According to NEA reports, teacher’s salaries began to decline as far back as 1997. No time to sift through the data on administrative salaries and to be honest, the time it took to read the current and previous reports was excruciating enough.
One indicator showing improvement with Indiana Public Schools came from the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Kids Count Data Book. Indiana is up eight points from 34 to 26 nationally. Do we still have room for improvement? Absolutely!
If past educational reforms don’t produce, examine why, make the changes and continue on. Funding is beneficial, but, without an action plan, it’s just spinning your wheels and going nowhere.
Governor O’Bannon wanted all day kindergarten. Even with the increased funding under his administration, it never materialized. You need strong legislative leadership for change to an antiquated educational system. People don’t like change. In fact, every living organism must change to survive. Education can be considered a living organism.
Further advancements included eliminating the “deghoster” funding and legislative changes:
These programs, while beneficial for districts with declining enrollments, left less money to be distributed among the remaining districts. Because the formula was using an average of past enrollments, instead of current enrollments, to determine per pupil funding, the money was not directly following the students. Therefore, the formula disadvantaged school districts with quickly growing enrollments. In short, Indiana school districts with rapidly growing student populations found themselves receiving less General Fund money per pupil, while simultaneously experiencing higher costs.
Source: Eliminating K-12 Public School Student Transportation as a Cost-Saving Measure Author(s): Lori G. Boyland and Walter D. Bourke Affiliation: Ball State University and Indiana Association of Public School Superintendents
Poverty plays a big part in education, and education plays a major role in successful economic development. Indiana lost 120,000 jobs circa 2000 with Delaware County seeing 12,000 over one decade. We must get our people working again. It’s not an either or thing, it is two important components required to make the State of Indiana more attractive, education more effective. Regardless of what you hear, data, reports and economists overwhelmingly agree, education and economic growth go hand-in-hand.
Delaware County, is hovering on the brink, in fact may already be arrived at financial disaster. It’s been brewing since 2009. Borrowing $4 million just to keep the doors open, with payback using money we don’t have. We are in big trouble and there is no plan, has been no plan to pull us out of the rut. We’re standing still and going nowhere.
Even with the gains we have seen elsewhere, Central Indiana is singled out:
But progress is fragile, particularly because of the continuing economic challenges that exist in central Indiana with high rates of child poverty and unemployment numbers that for the past several years have consistently exceeded the statewide average.
The City of Muncie seems to be the only area unaffected and personally, after reviewing data, I’m not sure how that’s possible. So much is happening so quickly it reminds me of the year before the housing bubble burst. It’s a concern for some, others applaud it.
Not much transparency in our local government on how this is all being funded, no information on why the city wanted to buy school property.
Speaking of transparency, most of us were aware of the transparency portal detailing local budgets and Indiana has launched a new website promising to be more detailed, more user friendly. The previous website could be a little difficult to navigate at times, still if offered what local governments did not, a look into city and county budget information.
The new website serves as an expansion of Indiana’s focus on transparency. The state’s website was recently named the most transparent state government site by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group. Baltzell said that, while it is nice to be the most transparent, the website still needs to be more user-friendly.
Click here to view the new website.
That’s all for tonight, folks.