Just received word from Dan Ridenour, Muncie City Council member the EMS Committee will be meeting on Thursday. Please pass it on. Sorry for the short notice.
What: EMS Committee Meeting
When: Thursday, January 4, 2018
Where: Muncie City Hall
Time: 6:00 PM
Update: 2017 not yet over. Muncie changing EMS ordinance to clear the way to use the revenue for more than EMS. Read the article!
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.)
- 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…
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.
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
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.
- 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…
Elections are funny little creatures. You never can be certain how the results will go. One election which has always puzzled me happens to be the 2011 Muncie General Election. So many inconsistencies can be found – decided to pull the information together.
Let’s begin with the number of registered voters according to Delaware County Clerk’s Office. Election results for the 2011 election are showing 60,811 registered voters. However, the population of Muncie in 2010 was 70,085. U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts selected- Muncie city, Indiana
The Census Bureau includes Ball State Students living in the City of Muncie both on-campus and off-campus. Roughly this would be approximately 15,000 students.
Persons under the age of 18 accounts for 17.8% of the population. If the calculations are correct this would mean 12,475.13 were ineligible to register to vote in 2010. Granted, some may have turned 18 in 2011 and registered and indeed did vote. (I did, my father forced it upon me.)
Let’s err on the side of caution here.
70,085 residents –5,000 BSU students not registered in Delaware County (assuming 10,000 is registered in Delaware County )-10,475 under the age of 18 (assuming 2,000 reached 18 making them eligible for ’11 elections) 54,610 estimated alive and residing in Muncie.
Although, we can’t have an accurate count of registered voters because the rolls are never cleaned up. People die, people move away and their registration stays active. Like the man who moved back to Indiana after living in Illinois for decades. He was still registered to vote in Muncie.
Let’s go on to 2011 election results. The ’08 Presidential election muddies the waters a little because we don’t have a break-down for city and county voters. However, from 2007 – 2011 there was an increase of 6,137 new registrations of which 2,029 came in after the 2011 primary.
In 2007 both McShurley and Mansfield were in a dead heat. After the recount, McShurley won by a handful of votes. And this is where it gets interesting. In 2011 Dennis Tyler received 1,789 more votes, in fact, more than either candidate received in ’07. Probably due to their registration drives of which 240 didn’t bother to vote. Good odds, huh?
Still, even with the additional voters, 2011 saw less than a 1% increase in voter turn-out from 2007.
2007 had 3992 Democrat straight tickets and 1,366 absentee ballots.
2011 had 4000 Democrat straight tickets and 1,722 absentee ballots, just 67 votes shy of Dennis Tyler’s total vote of 1,789 over McShurley.
2007-2015 election 1 (PDF)
“I’ve learned one thing when it comes to local government – Muncie moves forward when we all work together. The past four years have been frustrating for all of us. Whenever elected officeholders had differences during Mayor Dan Canan’s administration, we always worked together in a respectful and bipartisan manner for the best interests of our city. I am eager to get back to what is best for Muncie a collaborative effort of all local officials working together to improve our community. It is the only way we can make Muncie a city that we can be proud of. ” Alison Quirk People before Politics 2011 campaign flyer.
“Giving Volume to Your Voice.” Nora Powell 2011campaign slogan.
“Imagine the possibilities if we all worked together.” Dennis Tyler 2011 campaign slogan.
What does this have to do with current city business? Much. It’s no secret the animosity between McShurley and most city council members from 2008-2011. She just couldn’t get along with anybody, was their mantra. This is only one part of the story. The second part of the campaign was all about working in Muncie’s best interest.
There is no denying the ideologies of Sharon McShurley clashed with those of Muncie City Council. Was it the ideologies, or was it a Republican beat their candidate and therefore everything she presented created a backlash? Well, let’s see.
A shortlist of ideas hindered by Muncie City Council:
- Downtown parking
- Prairie Creek improvements
- Channel 60
- Tuhey Pool
- Quiet Zone
- Pursuing $4 million in grant money
- County Animal Control (2008 proposal)
- Repairs at City Hall
- Downtown hotel
- Purchasing firetrucks
Nearly everything on this short list would have benefited the citizens of Muncie. Note #5 and #6 would have helped to facilitate #9. At this time the downtown hotel was the Roberts. Without the quiet zone, Roberts was a hard sell. #6 would have gone a long way in financing the quiet zone.
A short list of ideas by Dennis Tyler and approved by Muncie City Council.
- Downtown Horizon Center Garage Project $14 million (2014)
- Prairie Creek improvements $4 million (City Hall HVAC and Bathhouse 2013)
- Channel 60 back on the air with an increase in funding and one employee with benefits.
- Mike King broke the vote to finance Tuhey Pool.
- Quiet Zone (see #1).
- Not pursued by the current mayor or council.
- County animal control.
- City Hall was repaired with contracts awarded to Craig Nichols, City Building Commissioner. He did many of the “emergency repairs”. He has 34 felony counts against him.
- Downtown hotel (see #1).
It seems to appear that the very requests from McShurley which made the council unable to work with her, are the very same things they gladly pursued at a higher cost with Tyler. Enough said.
Muncie City Council recently voted for the borrowing of $4.5 million claiming they had to do what MCS and Ivy Tech cannot do…training programs. No Democrat on the council struggled with the vote, they don’t need to, all they need is politics before people.
There is so much more, but for now, we’ll bring this to a close.
To be continued….
Three quotes from the newspaper best explain the public’s complaint against the Muncie Redevelopment Commission and the City of Muncie’s request for $4.5 million dollars in financial support of Madjax.
“These much-needed revenues, which should be used for essential city services, will be diverted to subsidize this project that is not for the public utility and benefit.” Tom Bracken (remonstrance)
Gregory said this week that the project was “a non-profit that has too little history to make it viable for the 23 years of the bond’s life.”
Ridenour said that Tyler is “within his scope” to use EDIT funds for the building. “The project has some merit but I would prefer to see it occur over time so that it is self-supporting.” Remonstrance, question Muncie Star Press 9-8-17
Indeed, our tax dollars should go to provide essential city services. The city is at the highest tax levy we have ever seen. Mayor Tyler and Muncie City Council passed LOIT and increased EDIT tax in 2015 at the highest percentages. Currently, the city is paying attorney fees and we have no idea of the financial cost. Yet, according to a previous article, Madjax will use a portion of this bond to pay off their debt liabilities.
According to a previous article, Madjax will use a portion of the bond to pay off their debt liabilities. Should Madjax fail to have enough revenue, then city tax dollars will pick up the shortage. Certainly, this is not a financially sound move for the city tax payers.
Nora Powell resigned from the board because it is a conflict of interest. Last we heard, Todd Donati sits on the board of Sustainable Muncie and is the Economic Development Director. Would this not be a conflict of interest?
A remonstrance has been filed
Nora Powell Muncie City Council resigned from Madjax board citing conflict of interest
Linda Gregory Muncie City Council cited lack of requested information
Madjax assets $2.4 million (includes building at $2.4 million)
Madjax debt $1.7 million
Revenue for 2017 $168,817
In 2016 the City of Muncie earmarked a loan for $1 million for what then was known as Gearbox. 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. City council split on Gearbox loan
When Madjax first came on the scene it sounded pretty cool. This was before board members resigned, and the city offered to support with tax dollars.
Just a reminder, the City of Muncie passed an increase in taxes EDIT and LOIT in 2015, effective January 1, 2016.
Stop gambling with our money.
Muncie City Council Meeting
Muncie City Hall
Monday September 11th