Consolidation

Saturday ramblings: More on TIF

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Larry bringing to light the reason for consolidating TIF districts.

TIF consolidation for health, safety, morals

The referendum November 5th

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Misguided referendum and $45 million additional taxes.

Just the facts, please.

Very simply put. Why MCS would consider cutting transportation and then wage a full campaign on safety for the children, creating a PAC and raising taxes when the transportation money is available already, is questionable.

After all the time and effort invested in the town hall meetings and the plans that clearly show a savings, the tax is is still needed? With the health clinic expecting to save 15-30%, still need a tax?

If one truly was concerned about the safety of the children, one would should first look at who initiated the busing cuts and why. The capital fund should have been the first line item reduced, not transportation.

The town hall meetings could still have been held and plans to consolidate could have begun. Added cost for a special election in an off year is suspect, too.

Of course asking for money to just spend went over like a lead balloon and so the “emotional” campaign went into high gear.

When a school system with decreasing enrollment and one which receives more funds than the state average wants an additional $45 million or else there will be NO buses, you must look at all the factors, figures and ramification.

Yes, we know the decisions to consolidate schools and streamlining will be difficult. Yes, we know that people are already gearing up for the “Save My School” fight, and it will be nasty. Most of the board members have served more than one term and should have been aware of the difficulties and tough decision which are needed.

While we have been focused on the safety of children, and the false information the buses will end in 2013, we completely ignore all the budget and funding information. We misrepresent the laws, disregard the DLGF information. We don’t consider the $45 million will place the city at the top for the highest taxing city in the state. We don’t consider the economic impact this will have, and quite frankly, we don’t care.

Next year and the years to come, we’ll go back to crying about jobs and costs when we allowed it to happen. We’ll have another war on the closings and MCS will say they have enough money to operate and will put the decisions off, again.

The fact that nearly $55 million has been invested in buildings when the direction should have been consolidation back in 2008. The MCS board had all the data and instead chose to spend on costly remodeling projects.

2014 Budget adoption

$55 million school remodeling project completed 2008

$6.5 million

Detroit’s One Man Show – George Will

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Detroit’s One Man Show – George Will

I read with interest George Will’s current column on Detroit’s plight and couldn’t mistake the parallels to Delaware County.   Although Delaware County’s financial problems are minuscule compared to Motor City, the resemblance is striking.

In March, Detroit’s City Council agreed to 21 stipulations needed for reform.  The city council ignored it.

In June,  Delaware County was handed a $25,000 study with suggestions to bring the budget in line with revenue streams.  It has been largely ignored.  One item in the study was acted on,  a move towards additional taxes.  Fortunately, that was shut down quickly.

Detroit is also in a pickle with their pensions.  Delaware County has never really gotten a handle on the sheriff’s pensions.

Detroit has bonds, so does Delaware County.  We owe.  Will’s column touches on the cost of those bonds should Detroit’s creditors receive pennies on the dollar.  It’s possible that future bond issuances may come to municipalities at a higher financial cost.

Detroit has layers of bureaucracy, so does Delaware County.  Delaware County, has a population of 120,000 or the size of an average city.  Last year voters  soundly rejected an attempt to reorganize the county, decrease the layers of government.  A campaign of misinformation by both party headquarters was amazing in and of itself.  The current mayor donated $5,000.00 out of his campaign coffer to help defeat  modernization.  His position would have been eliminated.  $5,000 from donors is a small price to pay to retain $72,000 salary plus benefits and control over millions of dollars.

Kevyn Orr, appointed to oversee Detroit’s bankruptcy observed “the fact that people had gotten used to the city like this — people were tolerating the abnormal.”

So goes, Delaware County.

I would like to believe the voters would refuse to allow the county to continue in this financial decay, yet every council member retained their positions.  One exception, Commissioner Todd Donati was ousted from office, but quickly hired by the City of Muncie.  Within months of his appointment, he has indebted the city close to $10 million dollars.    When you vote, you’re are not just voting for the person.  You are also giving the elected official the power to place people in positions to oversee millions of dollars in spending.

Is it like this everywhere?  Possibly.  Our neighboring county, Henry, advertises  their appointments and interested parties must submit resumes.    Take that procedure for what it’s worth.

Public Question and Delaware County 2012 Ballot

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Public question: Shall Delaware County, Indiana and City of Muncie, Indiana, reorganize as a single political subdivision?

Supporting consolidation and modernization, vote Yes.

So, here we are at the brink of voting for reorganization and modernization in our county.  After nearly five years, it’s on the ballot.

You might be asking, why do I support consolidation?  I believe it will usher in a smaller and more transparent government.  Currently, there are 47 separate taxing entities in the county.  Most can’t recite even four.  I can’t.  Nevertheless, we have on the table a plan for reorganization.

To give you a little background.  The reorganization began in 2007, when a group of citizens garnered over 2200 signatures to get the ball rolling.  From there it was voted up, voted down, board disbanded and new appointments made, until the finished plan was completed in 2010.  From there it sat gathering dust for nearly a year, as neither Muncie City Council or Delaware County Commissioners bothered to meet and modify the plan.  One wonders if they even read the plan.   I know members of City Council were asked their thoughts on the reorganization, and they sat  looking blankly at the citizen.  Where’s the Democrat handlers when you need them?

Finally, Linda Gregory spoke and defined the plan perfectly.  She would as she spent time explaining the plan to citizens at her monthly meetings.

But today, we have a wealth of misinformation being circulated by those that have never even bothered to read the plan.  You ask how I know this?  I’ve been out and about listening to people explain why they are voting No.  So, I wonder, are these elected people ignorant of the plan or does their agenda include spreading as much false information as possible?  Don’t know.  Either way, it does the citizens a disservice.

To make it fun, let’s discuss some of the things being said.

“Public safety is in danger and we won’t have a sheriff.”  No, public safety won’t change.  Muncie will still have MPD and the County will still have Sheriff Department   The sheriff position is in the constitution, so this position is here to stay.

“Dennis Tyler will control the county.”  No, the mayor position will be eliminated and Dennis Tyler isn’t qualified to be the county executive.

“Your taxes will go up.”   That may be a possibility and really has nothing to do with reorganization.  Remember, your property is capped, so you do have a level of insurance.

“They just want to get rid of the elected officials.”  I’m not sure who “they” may be.  Consider this, the reorganization began in 2007 and there has been a turn over of elected officials.  Realizing the comment lacked credibility, it was continued to single out along-time city council member.  Yep, we spend all our time on modernization and consolidation to rid ourselves of Mary Jo Barton?

Some of the reasons are comical, as the Barton one, some are serious accusations with no basis in fact.  I would suggest you read the plan, if you haven’t already and decide for yourself.

I’ll leave you with this opinion piece from the local newspaper.

Learning from Nashville Experience

Vote Yes For Reorganization

Dis-FUNctional – Are we having fun in Delaware County or what!

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Delaware County is so political, it takes the fun out of being dis-FUNctional.  It  doesn’t matter what the topic, or flavor of the day,  it’s political.  Payback can be good or a detriment, depending on what side of the “dis-FUNction” you sit, stand or walk on.  Sometimes you get a job, or your truck paid off or even a construction contract.

Case in point.  The Muncie Sanitary District and Mayor Dennis Tyler.   Mayor Tyler claimed at the mayoral debate, he was able to work across party lines, he just can’t seem to do it.  Supporters of the mayor never said a word about Economic Development Income Tax funds going to pay for a law firm just so Mayor Tyler can gain the last bit of control over the $168 million dollar storm-water project.  So, the political games continue and the taxpayers and citizens will be forking over more money.  That’s the way it has always worked.

First we had the Justice Center, talk about the political football!

With the political appointments made to the Board of Supervisors (BOS) was filled to over-flowing with party supporters.  By the time it was all said and done, Delaware County was on the hook for additional bonds (covering the cost overruns), purchased a boat-load of  Bull computers…and even got to pay for storage of the dis-FUNctional pieces of modern technology and a lawsuit in which one attorney lost his license to practice.  The County Commissioners, even gave the poor unemployed attorney a pass on his fines.  Later he won his appeal on a technicality getting his license reinstated.  Witnesses for the prosecution were placed in the same room…that’s a no-no.  He was good to go.

We made national news on that one.  Along with the lady who shot her toe off because she had a corn.  No, I’m not making this stuff up.

Are we having fun yet? Read the rest of this entry »

Somewhere over the rainbow…

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Coming up Wednesday May 30, 2012, there will be a special meeting of Delaware County Council.  Some of the topics and decisions to be had will be, returning the pay and hours back for the county workers,  bond issues and amending the salary ordinance.

Some of you may remember last fall when Delaware County  voted to close the County Building on Friday and decrease the pay by three hours as a cost saving measure.  I haven’t heard the savings and one wonders if the county has suddenly found itself solvent since last year. Read the rest of this entry »

A word on consolidation

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 COMMISSIONERS VOTE FOR MERGER: Vanderburgh County Commissioners have taken one of the final steps needed to place a question on merging city and county governments before for the voters next year (Gootee, Evansville Courier & Press). During their meeting Tuesday night, Commissioners Marsha Abell and Lloyd Winnecke supported the resolution which enables a referendum in November 2012, while Commissioner Stephen Melcher voted against it. Now for the plan officials have spent the last five months discussing to get onto the ballot, the Evansville City Council must approve the exact same resolution as the commissioners. The City Council is scheduled to vote on the proposal Sept. 26. Melcher’s lone dissenting vote came as no surprise after his own proposal adding a so-called voter threshold died without a vote after neither Abell or Winnekce seconded it. Under a threshold, city voters and those who live outside city limits would have had to give separate majority approval for the two governments to merge. The proposal being considered requires a simple countywide majority from voters at the polls for the new government structure to take effect in January 2015.

In Larry Riley’s column Sunday(11-20-11) he mentions a brief conversation with Delaware County Commissioner Todd Donati.  

Dismissively waiving his hand, Donati grinned and suggested, “We don’t need to vote on consolidation.”

The allusion would be to the referendum next November on completely reorganizing Muncie and Delaware County into one political unit, something Donati and fellow Democrats do not want to see

With both City and County under the control of one political party, the consolidation as alluded by President Donati will be one that will not include the voters or citizens of Delaware County.  In fact, the vote has already been tainted by the 67% threshold.

As with the proposed animal control in 2010, which combined services, it was not in the best interest of the city residents.  E911 is another interlocal agreement which has been fuzzy for at least a decade.  One that has not been favorable to…city residents.  I believe the law suit should go to the finish line.  If the city is favored, we can be assured the truth has been revealed.  If the city doesn’t prevail, we can be assured the truth has been revealed.  Let’s dispel any doubts and go into the new administration with a clean slate.

Can Delaware county do it?  Your guess is as good as mine.

Where the county imagines possibilities

Animal Control-What’s it all about?