Muncie City

FYI: Muncie City Council changes meeting dates

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On December 8th, 2017 received information  Muncie City Council changed the date of the January 2018 meeting.   Originally scheduled for January 8th it will be held on January 1st New Year’s Day.

Muncie City Council has never held meetings on holidays.  Councilperson Doug Marshall said he was informed by the city attorney (not sure which one) having the meeting on January 8 was in violation of  City Code 32.33.

Sec. 32.33. Time and place for regular meetings.
The first regular meeting of the council shall be
held on the first Monday in January after the
general election of the members-elect of the council,
at 7:30 p.m. as provided by IC 18-1-3-2. All
regular meetings shall be held on the first Monday
evening of each month at 7:30 p.m. and may
be adjourned at the pleasure of the council. Adjourned
meetings shall have all the force and
effect of regular meetings. Meetings shall be held
in the council chamber, unless otherwise determined
by the president and designated on the
agenda.
(Code 1968, § 31.14; Ord. No. 620-80, 10-10-80)
It appears this code is decades old.  Checked Indiana Code IC 18-1-3-2 and came up with zero information.  Basically, City Council has been in violation for probably as long as the City Code has been on the books.  Take for example in 2017 three times, 2016 two times, 2015 one time, 2014 two times.   When a holiday falls on the first Monday of the month, Council moved the meeting.  Sometimes the holiday fell on a Sunday as the with the  July 2010 meeting being held on July 12, although the first Monday of the month was July 5th.
The City of Muncie is so desperate to pass the EMS ordinance quickly, they dug around until they could find something to justify the date change.  E.G.: 40-year-old city code which hasn’t been followed.   Well, until now.
Screen Shot 2015-10-30 at 4.36.56 PMYou’ll recall in 2015 Mayor Tyler and City Council introduced and passed a 43% income tax in 14 days.  It was needed to keep 16 firefighters on the payroll.

As proposed by Tyler, the city would enact a public safety LOIT of 0.25 percent — generating more than $1.5 million a year — and an 0.2 EDIT increase, which would generate more than $1.5 million.

The revenue would go into the city’s general fund, where a portion of it would go to offset another funding loss: The federal SAFER grant, which has in recent years covered the cost of 32 Muncie firefighters, will be cut in half beginning next year, Tyler said. Source: Mayor seeks local income tax increase  Star Press 9-1-15

The city was “just notified” that it will receive $2.1 million in SAFER grant funding for two years that begin in February 2016, Tyler said. That’s only enough to pay for 16 of 32 firefighters, he said.

“We have to cover the cost of 16 firefighters,” Tyler said. The department has 110 firefighters.

Fast forward to December 2017 council meeting and the city revealed it had the money for the 16 firefighters without the LOIT revenue.  The LOIT revenue will be used for start-up costs for the city-run EMS.  Amazing.
  There is no rush for this service as we have Delaware County Emergency Services (DCEMS) and it has been serving faithfully for 40 years.
If you would like to contact Muncie City Council members you will find their addresses  and contact information here:
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Muncie City Council and EMS

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Muncie City Seal copy
City of Muncie Government Seal

City Council had their regular meeting.

Can you believe the council (all but three) voted for an ordinance with no information and no line item in the budget?

So many people spoke and I have to say, every one of them had some worthy piece of information to bring to the table.  Proud of those people who did their homework.  Citizens are paying attention.

One man said he email all of the members and only three responded.  I don’t think Peters has an email, or she didn’t have one last time I contacted my representative.  He did get back to me, though.

This is exactly like how city council used to be.  They didn’t listen then and they are not listening now.  “Bye, bye, Miss American Pie…..

I hope people remember this and the fight to have our voices heard at election time.

Bad streets, FBI investigation, arrest, lack of transparency, the high cost of attorney fees (if would could get that information), city parks and spending $6.5 million for a start-up idea.  Can it get any worse?  And the audits…anything left out?  Probably.

Saturday ramblings…

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Update:  2017 not yet over.  Muncie changing EMS ordinance to clear the way to use the revenue for more than EMS.  Read the article!

 

Removing spending limits – EMS ordinance

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Muncie local government is so out of control.  With the debt rising, investigations, lawsuits, public hearings, arrest one just can’t seem to catch their breath.

Bracken vs. City of Muncie public hearing was held on 11-29-17 in Noblesville, Indiana.  Mayor Tyler taking the stand and under oath not recalling details of events.  Yes, it is all about Madjax.

Todd Donati was called to testify and now people are looking at the State’s audit reports of the Muncie Redevelopment Commission (MRC) for 2014 and 2015.  It will curl your hair when you read it.  The scary part is Muncie’s debt including principal, interest is nearly $74 million.

Michael Hicks testified and put into question the City’s economic development efforts.  City Councilman Dan Ridenour testified the information he received in the lawsuit differed from the information he received at the time the bond was approved.

Moving on.  A few months ago Mayor Tyler wanted the city to have it’s own EMS.  Currently, we have a county EMS.  Then he changed his mind no EMS.   Now he is actively working on a city-run EMS.  This will be a disaster.  And it’s self-serving not for the good of the community.  City or County.  Muncie was fortunate to receive federal funding for the Muncie Fire Department.  When Tyler took office in 2012 there was $8 million from the previous mayor to fund the MFD.  But, when the grant was not renewed, Mayor Tyler had no money so he passed a 43% income tax in 14 days.  Well, that didn’t draw enough money, so he wants to have a city-run EMS to keep the 16 firemen employed.

Let’s just briefly (if that’s possible) review 2017.

  • Building Commissioner Craig Nichols arrested and charged with 34 felonies.
  • Damaging financial audits of the city.
  • FBI investigation.
  • Chief of Police resigns and files a lawsuit against the city.
  • Prairie Creek reservoir substantially over budget.
  • Muncie Fire Department facing layoff
  • City acquires private property claims it was to keep the neighbourhood from deteriorating.  Mayor and two council members live in this neighbourhood.
  • The city takes over the financial records of Muncie Redevelopment after the audits.   City controller resigns.
  • Mayor Tyler and Todd Donati claim they weren’t on the board of Sustainable Muncie when the city decided to financial support with tax dollars.  (Bracken’s lawsuit said they were.)
  • Councilperson Nora Powell resigns from Sustainable Muncie’s board when Councilperson Linda Gregory said it may be a conflict of interest.  The city attorney concurred.
  • Tom Bracken sues the City of Muncie, Muncie Redevelopment and Muncie City Council.  Courts will rule in January.
  • The city of Muncie attempts to require Tom Bracken to put up a $4.5 million bond citing his lawsuit could hinder Sustainable Muncie (a/k/a MadJax) ability to get leases.
  • City refuses to release attorney fees related to the FBI investigation.   Issued public statement by city spokesperson Sarah Beach.
  • Mayor Tyler said the city has always been transparent and Beach’s statement was not accurate.  (Note: the fees still haven’t been made public.)
  • Founding members of Sustainable Muncie (a/k/a MadJax) resign citing the direction has changed.
  • Rumored the FBI is taking some interest in Sustainable Muncie.  Has not been confirmed. (Update:  Michael Hicks testimony 11-29-17 hearing.)
  • EMS
  • Delaware County has given the city over 200 properties and none have been put back on the tax rolls.  Delaware County stopped the practice.

There was a whole lot of shaking going on prior to good old 2017.  That’s for another time.  Look for a rundown on the SBOA audits and more…

 

 

 

Transperancy in Muncie, Indiana government-a commentary

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Mayor Tyler and the City of Muncie is in the news again.  This time it’s over the city’s refusal to release attorney fees.  Freedom of Information request was denied.  City’s spokesperson, Sarah Beach,  on behalf of the city,  claimed it was “privileged” information.  The state’s public access counsellor disagreed.

Four days later after the letter was released in the paper, and not without public criticism, Mayor Tyler held a one-minute press conference.   That’s all the time needed to discredit the letter.   The city’s feeble attempt at damage control.  Again.

You know the letter Beach submitted to the newspaper was approved by both the city attorney and Mayor Tyler.   Now Dennis Tyler is saying it was inaccurate.

Tyler said Friday that the city “has always and will always be transparent to its citizens.”

So, let’s look at the transparent government.

In 2012 the City’s building commissioner re-opened his business and immediately received city contracts.  It wasn’t until Walls & Ceilings was fined by OSHA the public became aware.  (It was rumoured Nichols was doing work.)

The city’s Neighborhood Investment Committee (NIC) program birthed in 2015.  For this program, the city buys and sells properties to revitalize neighbourhoods.  Some of you may remember East Central Reinvestment Corporation (ECRC) funded with federal dollars.

East Central Reinvestment Corp., a pioneering local CHDO founded in 1986, went under after defaulting on mortgage payments on 13 houses in 2008. ECRC spent more than $3 million to improve more than 80 properties before HUD cut off funding to it in 2006 after an investigation of conflicts of interest and other complaints. Muncie to prop up housing rehabbers with HUD 4-1-2011

What’s happening with the NIC program?

Last week we learned Delaware County gave the city  215 properties and not one has been put back on the tax rolls.  Where is the transparency?  Does anyone know the status of these properties?  Nope.

Or the status of the Village?   Or the transparency of the Muncie Redevelopment Commission?   Did we know city money was filtering into the building commissioner’s wallet?   Did we know Mayor Tyler was preparing to pass a 43% income tax?   The press conference on Nichols’ arrest, was Mayor Tyler transparent?

Or that Tyler and Donati were board members of Sustainable Muncie? (Both said they resigned and Beach went on to say Tyler’s involvement was as a “figurehead” only).  Of course.  At the final hour, Tyler said there would be a job training program.  Transparency.

The night he won a second term, he declared to followers “I will never lie to you.”  Cheers.  Every time the city gets caught they blamed it on someone else.  The increased tax levy in ’12.  McShurley’s fault.  Traffic lights not synced, blight program delayed, no paving grant?  The State’s fault.

Do you ever wonder why the former MRC president resigned right after Donati lost the election?  Perfect timing.  Or how about bid specifications written specifically for the companies the city favours?  The building on Walnut, Wilson School, VAT.  Was the Mayor transparent or distressed when MSD purchased the building for $300,000 based on an inflated appraisal?  Did Mayor Tyler or Todd Donati give any indication the city was buying the Rutter Building?  Or how much rental revenue?  Do we know?

Woe to those who increase their wealth on the backs of the people they were elected to serve.  The readers may not agree with this statement, but they are to be pitied.    Lacking integrity, greedy, and they will not enjoy the fruits of their labour.  It’s tainted fruit. It has soured in their bellies.  But then again, if one is void of honesty, integrity, empathy and virtue they will think they are the victims of unjust circumstances.

City refuses to release legal fees

City denies withholding information

Publicity is justly commended as a remedy for social and industrial diseases. Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman.  The most important political office is that of the private citizen.  Louis Brandeis

The punches just keep comin’

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Muncie City Seal copy
City of Muncie Government Seal

Mayor Tyler claims his administration is transparent.  If this is so, why is it that citizens learn of events after the fact?

Take Halteman Village Pool for example.  A little background, if I may.  Halteman Village is a subdivision in Muncie.  The mayor and two city council members live in the subdivision.  It has a private pool.

Two years ago the City of Muncie gave Halteman Pool $10,000 for repairs.  Later we found it was in lieu of swim lessons.  The pool closed.  We have a public pool and for some unknown reason (Mayor Tyler seems to have forgotten) why swim lessons could not be offered at the beautiful Tuhey Pool. (Tuhey  had $2 million and more invested and yet the mayor chooses to finance repairs on a private pool? – let it sink in.)   A former board member stated after receiving the $10,000 the pool closed three days later.  Do the math….$3,333/day for swim lessons.

On October 22, 2017, citizens found Halteman Pool was deeded to the city in August.  Who knew?  A quit-claim deed was filed,  now the City of Muncie owns another pool and in Mayor Tyler’s neighbourhood.    But, here is where it gets good.  Halteman Pools was  $16,000 in delinquent taxes and a mortgage of $30,000 (according to the paper).

So why was the property deeded to the city in the first place?  You’re going to love this explanation from Sarah Beach spokesperson for the City of Muncie.

“The property was given to the city of Muncie because the owners were no longer able to maintain and operate the property,” Beach said. “The owners did not want the property to become overgrown and donated the property to the city. The city accepted it so that we could maintain it and prevent it from becoming an overgrown eyesore and devalue the neighborhood.”

But ya know, there are many properties in neighbourhoods which are run down, why is this property special?  Because the mayor and two city council members live there?

The property has was been sold in the tax sale last month.

I’m glad the mayor has his best interest in mind.  To avoid his neighbourhood from going to pot, he’ll just gobble up property with city money.   And then he’ll have the city mow and maintain it.   And then we’ll take the property off the tax rolls.  And then Mayor Tyler will come to us with his proverbial hat in his hand and cry about how the caps are hurting the city.  And then he’ll devise a way to increase or implement new fees like he did with the landlord ordinance.

If all this doesn’t stink to high heaven and just scream of improprieties….

Read the full article here.