Muncie Community Schools

From Gearbox to Madjax – history tells a story

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Muncie City Seal copy
City of Muncie Government Seal

Sometimes the best way to see the future is to dig up the past.

Larry Riley predicted the outcome of Gearbox now Madjax.  His column appeared in the local paper on January 30, 2016.  One community member claimed Riley was biased in this column, although Riley did provide compelling arguments.

the organization has no revenue stream, no signed tenants, no record of accomplishment Source: Gearbox vs Greenspace Muncie Star Press 1-30-16

Sustainable Muncie hasn’t been around as an organization long enough yet to file its first required annual financial report, having been organized only in December of 2014. Source: Gearbox vs Greenspace Muncie Star Press 1-30-16

Another minus to Gearbox is the cost: $1 million, now guaranteed by the city (if Sustainable Muncie can’t make existing or future loan payments this year, then the city’s money kicks in, but the organization is to pay back the city by the end of this year … how?) Source: Gearbox vs Greenspace Muncie Star Press 1-30-16

So involved was Mayor Dennis Tyler no other ideas could be considered.  In fact, he was silent about another proposal,  Tom Bracken’s greenspace.  Which makes one wonder why he dismissed other ideas and put Gearbox to the feasibility test.  Or Bracken’s proposal for that matter.   Mayor Tyler brought only one idea to the public.

And that’s the end of that.

Let’s look at what has transpired since Riley’s column.  At the time, City council passed an ordinance backing $1 million to be paid back by the end of 2016.

Tyler told The Star Press he wanted to loan $1 million in EDIT revenue to the group rather than just give it to Sustainable Muncie to create an obligation to be repaid. The loan is supposed to be repaid by the end of 2016.

http://www.thestarpress.com/story/news/local/2016/01/04/city-council-split-1m-gearbox-loan/78135796/

We know for a fact the money was not paid back.

“The city has not issued any money as it related to this line of credit,” officials replied through city human resources director Sarah Beach last week. Donati, who is also a Sustainable Muncie board member, told TheStar Press that the board was “trying to decide what direction we want to go with” the funding for Madjax, including the original $1 million line of credit. “Eventually, something will have to be done with it. … It’s totally Sustainable Muncie’s responsibility to pay that back and they’re looking at how to get that done.”   Source: Star Press June 6, 2017

After resignations, Madjax plans the way forward

Two months after this article appeared in the paper, the citizens of Muncie were looking at a $4.5 million dollar bond.    The bond was passed with the promise of no property taxes and a training program.  But, in June, Donati and Tyler were already considering bonding for this project, we just didn’t know about it.

Interesting to note:  The City Council had little financial information in 2016 and just a smidgeon more in 2017 yet, they still voted a big fat YES in both instances.

Let’s recap:

  • January 2016 Muncie City Council voted to loan Gearbox $1 million with no financial information
  • December 2016 Loan not paid
  • June 2017 Donati said it was Sustainable Muncie’s responsibility to pay back the money
  • August 2017 Notice for public hearing on $4.5 million bond published
  • August 2017 Muncie City Council learned of Sustainable Muncie’s debt
  • August 2017 Donati said $200,000 has been set aside by Muncie Redevelopment Commission & others  for $348,000 annual bond debt repayment (Muncie Redevelopment Commission & others)
  • August 2017 Muncie City Council voted to introduce the ordinance
  • September 2017 Public Hearing for Madjax – Sustainable Muncie
  • September 2017 Muncie City Council voted to approve the bond

Madjax was not able to pay the interest-free loan in 2016 or make any payments in 2017.  Muncie Redevelopment has set aside $200,000 to guarantee the 2018 bond payment.

This is the transparent government of Mayor Dennis Tyler.  But I digress…

 

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Updated: Muncie Debt & TIF

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Muncie, INYou may be interested in looking at the City of Muncie’s total debt as of 9-29-17.  For your reading pleasure see links below on the TIF obligations.  As you can see, TIF revenues (property tax dollars) hold a large share of the debt repayment.

Recently Muncie City Council added $4.5 million in debt and Mayor Dennis Tyler is wanting to bond another $3.5 million for Muncie Community Schools.  $8 million additional debt in less than one month.  Chew on it, baby.

The sad part is the TIF revenue is real property tax dollars.  The reason why TIF districts are so popular amongst government units is simple.  The money collected in the districts can be spent any which way.  Even a $4.5 million bond claiming it is for training purposes for a cash-strapped start-up company.  One in which the mayor and his appointed president of the Redevelopment Commission (MRC) sit on the board.  Go figure.

That’s all, folks!  See y’all soon.

Muncie City Total Debt 9-29-17

TIF Debt 9-28-17

Public Hearing for Madjax 9-7-17

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todd donatiTodd Donati – Muncie Redevelopment Commission, President

When:  Thursday 9-7-17

Time: 4:00 PM

Where: City Hall Mayor’s Conference Room

A public hearing on $4.5 million dollar bond for Madjax.    The repayment is from leases and should they fall short?  You guessed it….tax dollars will make the payment.

The bond money will help to pay off some of the $1.762 million in debt Madjax owes.  Seems similar to a consolidation loan where you borrow money to pay off your debts and have one payment.  You still owe, though.

In this case, if Madjax pays off their debt, but fails to make the bond issuance payment, the taxpayers will pick up the slack.

Sweet!

Since when did the Muncie Redevelopment Commission become a bank?  We’re talking about $4.5 million dollar loan.  Surely, if MRC has that kind of dough to throw around perhaps MRC should instead loosen up their purse strings and return $4.5 million back to the taxing entities.

Mayor Tyler claims he wants to help the schools, how about restructuring TIF districts? Instead, we’ll take even more money for the cash-cow call TIF districts.

Most everyone liked the idea of a Maker’s Place until we found out the city is dishing out money right and left.  You have to wonder about the adverse reaction Bracken’s proposal created.  There’s some money to be had or someone is going to benefit.  Won’t be the taxpayers, guaranteed.

Some time has passed since council members showed some reluctance on this bond.  Let’s see how they vote after their private meetings.  Afterall, going against Mayor Tyler and his appointed friend Todd Donati might cost them Democrat Headquarters support come next election.

Madjax Debt

Madjax oublic notice 8-25-17

Wilson school 4-Sale and other stuff

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Discernment is woefully lacking. We prefer having our ears tickled and being told what we want to hear. Anything outside of this is considered evil. We don’t dare examine the past and be on the alert for warning signs.

You know, we sold the best school for pennies on the dollar. It was suspect from the beginning when the request for bid was written so only one company could bid. It would have been to MCS advantage to have competitive bidding. Who at MCS was overseeing this sale and what was told to the board?

Today, that building is up for sale and several people have lost their jobs. Donati washes his hands “We didn’t give them a tax abatement.” Yes, but he authored the sale.

So, when the mayor and city council show up with concern on their faces, you might want to ask why the MRC did not write the bid specifications to allow for competitive bidding? Oh, Mayor Tyler just appointed Donati, he doesn’t manage the MRC. Right.

This is akin to the Craig Nichols receiving bid work  Or VAT which cost us a cool million or two.

Wilson Middle School up for sale

The MRC had to open up the bidding for the Wilson property to anyone, but the requirements were narrowly written to make it most likely that ASONS would be the only bidder.

During Thursday’s MRC building, the only bid was opened and it was from ASONS

Source: Former Wilson school changing hans Muncie Star Press May 7, 2015

Wilson Middle School sold (2015)

 

 

 

An Evening with Larry Riley

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Having you been missing Larry Riley’s columns from the local newspaper?  If so, you won’t want to miss this event.

The Rest of the Story – An Evening with Larry Riley

When: May 29th, 2017

Time: 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM

Where: Kennedy Library

1700 W McGalliard Rd, Muncie, IN

Get directions

We know Memorial Weekend is busy, so even if you can’t make it at 6:30 PM, the doors will be open during the event.  Bring your questions.

Hope to see you!

Saturday Ramblings: April Fools Day

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Good morning.

Muncie is always in the news.  If it’s not the Muncie Community Schools, it’s the City of Muncie.    Necks are hurting from all the shaking of the heads or SMH for short.

Muncie is in a perpetual state of April Fool’s Day and the joke is on those living within the boundaries.  We at Muncie Politics thought it would be fun and challenging to bring to remembrance some of the more funnier jokes.

  1. 2012 Muncie’s tax levy was increased.  The city controller blamed it on the previous administration for not considering insurance increases.  Seems they forgot Muncie City Council did not approve the ’12 budget.   On a side note: the tax levy has increased every year since ….go figure.
  2.  Consider a private pool located in Mayor Tyler’s neighborhood and his family frequents receiving $10,000 city tax dollars for repairs while the city pool operates at a $96,000 deficit.
  3. The previous mayor, McShurley, promised enough money was available to fund public safety and she left the city with over $8 million in funds to support her claim.  Mayor Tyler assured us that he also had enough money for public safety.  But, in 2015 he passed LOIT and an income tax increase in a mere 14 days. (43% increase)
  4. Mayor Tyler promised living wage jobs but it appears the only person seeing an income increase was his building commissioner.  I mean, how many people get paid for work never performed?  It’s a good gig if you’re inclined to pick the pockets of taxpayers.
  5. In 2016 the Mayor encouraged his street superintendent to run for county commissioner.  Meanwhile, they were attempting to get paving funds yanked from the county.  The State of Indiana said no, it was a minor error which the State did not catch in the approval process.   The State would not punish the county.  Funny how Mayor Tyler can sniff out a county issue while his administration is hosting FBI agents investigating city corruption.
  6. The State of Indiana awarded the City of Muncie $4 million for demolitions of blighted property.  It took the city a few years to get started and Mayor blamed the late start on the State.  Never mind other communities were ahead of the game.  If they were making headway with the funds, why is Muncie so far behind?
  7. The City of Muncie approved to forgive $10,000 in delinquent property taxes for a community garden.  I don’t know if the State said yes because there has been no follow-up and no community garden, either.  Considering the land housed an old factory…was polluted anyway.
  8. Of course, who could forget the Muncie Redevelopment Director, Todd Donati, asking for a tax reduction on his personal condo claiming it was economic development.   City Council voted no, but Donati vowed to return with his request when people were more “open” to the idea.
  9. Muncie has also ventured into the real estate business.  Putting out a request to bid on a privately owned downtown building throwing in a city-owned parking lot.  The requirements were stringent and no bidders came forth.  So, the city is planning on “loaning” over $7 million to the owners.
  10. After Mayor Tyler won, he said both the county and the city was controlled by one party and there would be no excuses.  However, there are excuses.  If it’s not the State of Indiana it’s the previous mayor’s fault…oh well.

It’s been a perpetual April Fools Day since January 1st, 2012, and the joke is on us.

Muncie Community Schools – What is going on?

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Muncie Community Schools has been dominating the headlines in the local newspaper.  Did the school district fall into sudden disrepair financially and physically?  Has the proverbial can been kicked down the road?

Questions like these have divided the district.  Some opting to believe the signs were glaring while others believe it is the fault of the current administration.  Whatever road you’re traveling it’s coming to an abrupt end.

Let’s take a look at the stark picture:

A Brief Review of School Financing, Performance and Enrollment in Delaware County Indiana (PDF). Delaware County School Data Mar 1 2017-1

State aid to Muncie schools drops

Certainly, there are other factors which come into play.  For the purpose of this blog entry, we will be focusing on the review and newspaper article.