Delaware County

Delaware County, Living on the Edge and $25,000 Financial Report

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American Dollars Falling from the Sky

Last night the long-awaited financial report was presented to the County Commissioners and the County Council.  For a mere $25,000 we learned the county has money, we just need to move it from one fund to another.  Take for example, the Highway Department.  According to the Umbaugh report, the ending balance for this department is $2.8 million.  Move some of it, all of it, or none of it into the Rainy Day Fund and from there use it to pay expenses from the general fund.

I am no CPA and I wouldn’t presume to tell them how to do this job, their findings ain’t nothing different from we have been sayin’.  Of course, revenue from additional taxes and cuts in the budget go hand in hand with shuffling money.

The report also states a revenue stream for public safety of $2.5 million from an income tax called Local Option Income Tax (LOIT) can help ease the financial burden.

But, my question is simple, if the county is in good shape, we have the money, and all the report’s recommendations are followed, why would any additional taxes be needed?

So, without further ado, much has already been said, here is the link to the Muncie Star newspaper (available for seven days):

Report: Delaware County could impose new taxes

Heres the $25,000.00 report:

Comprehensive Financial Plan

More will be forthcoming, for now let’s just chew on this.

A Vat Full of Bull

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Every since Mayor Dennis Tyler hired Todd Donati to spend city tax dollars, we have been writing checks left and right.  For those of you that aren’t familiar with Mr. Donati, he was the county commissioner from 2009 to 2012.  Despite his campaign of how well the county is doing, he left it in deplorable financial shape.

Sitting through Muncie City Council meeting as Todd Donati danced his way through nearly $10 million dollars of bond issuance.  Yes, it only took six months to rack up that much debt under the direction of Todd Donati, the master of economic development.

It’s like watching reruns of a bad program.  Donati standing before a different council, asking for a yes vote, and right down party lines, yes, yes, yes, yes….As Delaware County Commissioner, he stood before the council asking for a yes vote.  As president of county council, he asked for a yes vote.  The more things change, the more they stay the same.

The first bond  of the season, a mere $5 million is needed to build a parking garage.  Muncie will be the proud owner of 89 parking spaces.  Mr. Donati is expecting a revenue stream of $250,000 a year from the 89 prime parking spots located conveniently in the middle of an apartment complex.

According to Donati, this will create 693 jobs.  That’s what he said.

Second bond of $4 million will cover everything from the Prairie Creek bathhouse, to streetscape and City Hall remodel.    Originally, it was $5 million, but thanks to some nifty grants (we don’t know how much or from whom) we have brought it down to what Donati would call a reasonable debt.  Although, as a county resident, he won’t be obligated to pay this debt.  Heck, as a county resident, he didn’t mind running up debt…so what the hey.

Brad Polk asked Todd about the streetlights and if there was a possibility those lights could be used.  Polk was referring to the solar-powered lights purchased in ’09.  Donati said they were all in use.

A little background on the lights, if I may.

VAT, a manufacturer of solar-powered lights sold us a slew of these precious gems.  They were placed strategically throughout the county.  One little glitch.  The lights don’t work.  Along with the lights, we were promised 100+ jobs and a wind vane.  Yes sir, this was going to put us on the map as the green capital of Indiana.  And it only cost us $1.9 million dollars.  No jobs and no wind vane, either.  Last I heard, someone (us) will be paying $29,000 to fix the lights.

Delaware County, A Modern Day Fairy Tale

But wait, there is more.  We had the unforgivable loan of $350,000 to the trucking company.  We were led to believe the loan came from the redevelopment funds (still our tax dollars).  Yet, Donati came before county council asking for a bond approval.   And not only that, he asked for a suspension of the rules.  In other words, he wanted the bond passed now.  The county needed that bond passed to make the New World software payment.  Don’t ask, it is just to complicated to follow the money.

After the 2010 election, the $7 million dollar bond came up for a vote.  Part of that money was for the county plaza.  It’s economic development, dontcha know.  Nobody had seen the plans until Donati went to his office to get the blue prints.  Desoto got some sewer money.  An exchange between Quakenbush and Donati about the  Desoto sewer system and Royerton led to Donati saying the county had been helping Royerton customers for two years.  That would not be true, but what’s a little whopper when it comes to $7 million buck-a-roos?

$7 million and a sewer

Just last week at the Muncie Redevelopment Commission meeting,  questions on how much money was available  in the checking account.  All eyes looked at the director of MRC, Todd Donati.  Nobody really knew the answer and the paper didn’t follow-up on the balance.  That’s o.k.    The City is planning on moving stone pillars, storing the pillars and restoring before they find a final resting place at some city park.  After the pillars are removed, the basement underneath must be filled in.

So, you can see why it’s important our tax dollars be spent on moving pillars instead of, say, paving streets.  After all, Donati did build a county building plaza, and then promptly shut down the county building one day a week.  Lack of funds, you know.  And despite the plaza being funded with economic tax dollars, it generated not one penny in revenue.

In case you are wondering, Muncie Redevelopment is funded by your tax dollars.  They can spend it anyway they please, and even if they can’t they still will.

Back in the 80’s the county bought a boatload of Bull Computers.  These computers were as useless as the streetlights.  Both were kept in storage, courtesy of the tax payer’s dime.

A Vat full of Bull.

Looking back…Hiring in Delaware County

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The Indiana General Assembly has closed for the season.  Not much that interests me, so I decided to take a look at one particular bill signed into law in 2012 and are we complying?

IC 4-2-6-16 or the Nepotism Rule went into effect July 1, 2012.  In other words, local government  employees are not allowed to hire a relative (s) or grant contracts to a relative (s), etc.  Sounds simple enough, right?  If it is confusing, check out this simple explanation outlining the law.

Don’t Hire a Relative from the in.gov website outlines the bill in layman’s terms.

In Delaware County, we don’t have issues with nepotism (tongue-in-cheek).  Nevertheless, local officials scrambled to get an ordinance written, signed and sealed.  But first, some hiring had to be done.

Delaware County Recorder, Jane Lasater, hired her daughter Melanie Marshall right before the law took effect.  According to the Walker/Roysdon report June 24, 2012, “more than a few elected officials” contacted the Muncie newspaper about the recent hire.  Lasater denied the hiring of her daughter, citing she had already been employed in the Recorder’s office.

The newspaper failed to report who complained.

Rumors of hiring still making the rounds. Take for example, the City Clerk’s office.  Is it true City Clerk Phyllis Reagon hired her grand-daughter?  This would be in direct violation of Indiana law, and the Delaware County and City of Muncie ordinances.

You are the hiring manager.  You may not hire a relative.  Any person within an agency who knowingly participates in a violation of this chapter is subject to the penalties set forth in section 12 of this chapter.

One can’t help but wonder, why Lasater received so much attention from the elected officials and the newspaper, but silence from both elected officials and the local paper on Phyllis Reagon.  Things that make you go hmm.

Hiring your relative is not just bad practice, in Indiana it’s against the law.

In other related news, former Muncie City clerk was fired for embezzling $11,000.00 from the Muncie Clerk’s Office.  She is waiting trial, but Attorney General Greg Zoeller has filed charges on behalf of the State of Indiana.  $10,000.00 has been recovered through the city’s insurance.

State Board of Accounts audit of Muncie City Clerk’s Office can be found here.

Muncie City Clerk SBOA 2012

Considerable amount of time has passed, and procedures haven’t been updated to comply with the audit.    Apparently a  new cash register has been purchased which none of the employees know how to use.

cash register

Clearing things up, hiring relatives and embezzling money is illegal in the State of Indiana.

Coffee with the Councilman ~ Scott Alexander

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alexander

Coffee with the Councilman

Saturday May 18th, 2013

10:00 AM to 12:00 PM

Kennedy Library

Muncie, IN

alexander 1

Google Map Kennedy Library
Google Map Kennedy Library

coffee with the councilman 5-18-13 (PDF)

Working Families Flexibility Act

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Updated with bill text.

It’s time to give working families more flexibility

Written by
Luke Messer
Luke Messer

There’s nothing more valuable than time. Time to coach your son’s Little League team. Time to care for an aging parent. Time to volunteer helping those less fortunate.

Yet too many private-sector employees don’t have as much of that precious resource as their public-sector counterparts.

That’s because the Fair Labor Standards Act, a decades-old law designed to protect American workers, prevents private employers from giving their employees the choice between taking comp time and earning time-and-a-half for working overtime. That needs to change, which is why I have cosponsored legislation the House of Representatives just passed to unshackle American workers from this law’s inflexibility.

This legislation, the Working Families Flexibility Act, will give private-sector employees the same choices that federal, state and local government employees have had for years. This bill lets private-sector employees take paid time off instead of cash wages for overtime hours worked, a benefit public-sector employees have enjoyed since 1985. Despite rhetoric to the contrary, the bill does not force any employee to take compensatory time instead of overtime pay. It simply provides American workers with the ability to choose which they value more.

It’s a choice I wish my mom had when I was younger. She raised me and my brother on her own while working at Delta Faucet in Greensburg. She worked hard. She worked long hours. Sometimes, she worked weekends. Often, she came home tired.

My mom made the best decisions she could with the opportunities that she had. She always put her boys first, and most of her free time was spent going to ball games and teacher’s conferences. But, I can say now — more than 30 years later — there were times that I would have sacrificed a new pair of cleats for a little more time with her. I bet she’d say the same.

The Working Families Flexibility Act is about giving moms and dads that time with their sons and daughters. Some workers will opt to earn a few extra dollars, perhaps to make much-needed car repairs or put a little extra away for their child’s education. Others will choose the time off so they can go to that parent-teacher conference or help their child memorize lines for the school play.

Federal worker protection laws shouldn’t benefit some workers at the expense of others. This legislation remedies that inequity by giving private-sector employees the same opportunities their public-sector counterparts have enjoyed for years.

The Working Families Flexibility Act will give hard-working American families the freedom to choose how to spend their most precious resource: their time. That’s a long-overdue gift American families deserve.

Luke Messer is the representative for Indiana’s 6th Congressional District and serves on the U.S. House Budget Committee.

HR 1406 Working families comp time

 

City May Be Short Millions….

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At the same time, Tyler acknowledged that Democrats will now control both city and county government locally and with that control comes expectations.

“This isn’t going to be easy,” he said. “. But I think people will be pleasantly surprised.”

WALKER/ROYSDON REPORT: Tyler: No ‘good old boys club’

tyler

The cats out of the bag now.  The newspaper reported today the city might be millions of dollars short in property tax revenue.  Ouch.  Back in ’09 the city was $4 million dollars short and by the time the past administration left office, there was $7,596,218 balance and the tax levy decreased in 2012 from 2011. Read the rest of this entry »

Do we really need this much government? by Luke Messer

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6th District - U.S. House of Rep. - Indiana
6th District – U.S. House of Rep. – Indiana

When it comes to the sequester, President Obama is putting politics first.

The president claims that sequester cuts would be “draconian,” creating major disruptions in everything from air travel to public safety to food inspections. The truth is that, even with the sequester cuts, federal spending will be slightly higher this year than last.

The sequester calls for $85 billion in spending cuts, and that is a lot of money. However, when compared to a $3.6 trillion budget, the reductions are actually relatively modest. In fact, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office predicts actual spending this year will be reduced by $44 billion, with the remainder spread out over future years. Again, that sounds like a lot of money. But spending on the programs subject to these automatic cuts has increased by almost 15 percent since the president took office.

Listening to the president, one would think there is nothing in government upon which we could spend just a little less. How about $2.2 billion on free cell phones provided by the government? How about the $4 million taxpayers spend annually for a television studio at the IRS? How about the $1 million NASA spends each year to come up with a menu for when we live on Mars? How about the $325,000 spent developing a robotic squirrel?

These are just a few examples of the many frivolous things the government spends billions on that we simply don’t need or can’t afford. Read the rest of this entry »