jim arnold

Saturday ramblings – 1%; Silence is golden and the LLL Club

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The snow is white, the sky is pale blue and the air is crisp.  Despite the return of the head cold, life is pretty good.  Saturdays are sleep in, casual cleaning and cinnamon French Toast with real maple syrup.   Sipping a cup of yummy Free Trade java, don’t know about you, it’s the simple things I find so rewarding.  This is a long Saturday rambling. Read the rest of this entry »

Property Tax Appeal Help Day #3

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Assessment Appeal Help Day # 3

Mark your calendars for Saturday January 7, 2012.  The Citizens of Delaware County for Good Government is hosting our third Annual “Property Tax Appeal Help Day” at the Kennedy Branch Library, 1700 W. McGalliard Road.  The Seminar starts promptly at 10:00 am, followed by questions and answers, and personalized help sessions.

Last year’s Help Day was a huge hit as we helped hundreds of property taxpayers find errors on their assessments and prepare property assessment appeals.

The deadline to file your appeals is January 20, 2012.  If you file late you will lose your right to appeal for the current tax year.  You may need to appeal your assessment this year, even if you appealed last year and won.  The purpose of the Help Day is to help Delaware County property owners who believe that their property tax assessment is too high.   We will provide pointers on how to create a successful appeal, and will help you complete your property tax assessment appeal forms, but we cannot guarantee that you will win your appeal.  There is no charge for this service.

 It is very important that you bring a current property record card so that we can identify errors on your assessment.  You should also bring photos of your home at angles that show the front, side, and rear elevations.  You should also provide photos of any yard buildings, pools, or other improvements to the property, plus photographs and documentation of any damages or other issues that detract from the value of the property. Make two copies of your appeal and all supporting documentation and have them date stamped when you turn in your appeal, keeping one copy for your records.

 Scott Alexander, 2012 President of the Citizens of Delaware County for Good Government.
For additional information call:   765-286-7070

Please share this email/alert with ALL your friends and contacts!!!

Help Day_010712 (Informational PDF)

Third Annual Property Tax Appeal Help Day- Jim Arnold

 Kennedy Library

1700 W. McGalliard Road

Muncie, Indiana

What’s happening in Muncie? ~ Local Neighborhood Organization Preparing to Fight the Battle Again!

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Muncieanna Neighborhood AssociationBrief history of the neighborhood  Layne Crest – Muncie, Indiana

On September 1st, 2011 The Delaware-Muncie Metropolitan Plan Commission voted no to the rezoning of two separate areas in Muncie.  One was located in the Village area, 300 block of Dill Street.  The second zoning was a residential neighborhood, Layne Crest.   For those not familiar with Layne Crest Addition it  covers the region located between W.  McGalliard Rd. (to the North) and Northside Middle School (to the South), and Scheumann Stadium (to the West) and Oakwood Ave. (to the East).

In attendance at the meeting was over 70 Layne Crest homeowners.  After two hours of testimony, the planning commission voted no on the rezoning.

The passing of the rezoning for Layne Crest and Dill Street would allow both areas to build apartment complexes.  In regards to Dill St., it would be a 36 unit apartment complex built in an area which is considered by most residents of Muncie to be a rental neighborhood.

Layne Crest however, is looking at a much larger complex with 216 units consisting of two or three bedrooms.  This number adds up to an influx of 584 people into an area which for all intents and purposes is a neighborhood.

Single family dwellings.

It was a unanimous NO vote by all nine members of the board on the Dill St. project.  However, when it came to Layne Crest, the vote was 3-6.  Enough for the planning commission to say NO.  Voting in favor of the rezoning, was current Muncie City Council member, Jerry Dishman, Richard McIntire and Tom Parker.

The next step was Muncie City Council for their approval.  At the city council meeting on October 3, 2011 Ordinance 39-11 was tabled after a persuasive argument was presented by the neighborhood representative, Misty King, followed by a handful of residents. Muncie City Council October 3, 2011.

The November 14th, 2011 city council meeting saw no decision on Layne Crest.  With an hour of testimony by the attorney of the developer, Scott Shockley and neighborhood association vice-president Amy Ryder and other concerned residents.  A decision could come as early as the next city council meeting on December 5th, 2011.

I have been trying to look at this rezoning objectively, and find myself left with more questions than answers.

For example voting  unanimously NO for development of rental units in an area which by all definition is a rental area.  Voting YES for the rezoning in an area which by all definition can be considered single housing residential.

A typical all-American neighborhood.

Both had presented issues like flooding, parking  and increased traffic.  Dill St. was geared more for the employees of Ball State University and IU Health.  Layne Crest is definitely a student rental development.

It seems backwards.

Normally, I am in favor of development, when development benefits the community as a whole.  However,  with the Layne Crest residents,  I fear they and the City of Muncie, will not see much benefit.  I would suggest, Muncie City Council do extensive research before voting.

The homeowners will find their property values lowered, and more importantly, their neighborhood will be increased by nearly 600 people.

Think on this for a minute

Muncie is not in any want for student housing.  The dorms at Ball State University are newly built or remodeled.  An apartment complex of this magnitude, if truly needed to meet the student housing needs, would better our community if it was built in an area which doesn’t destroy a neighborhood.

Please take a few minutes to view The Anthony-Northside Neighborhood Association.  I believe you will find a wealth of information.

Good luck, Layne Crest.

~ Keep Calm and Carry On ~

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keep calm and carry on
For historical trivia on the slogan, please click the picture

The Muncie 2011 Mayoral election has come and gone. Many people have expressed concern about the direction our city may take in the next four years.    The British government, in 1939, produced a series of posters designed to motivate the people and alleviate feelings of anxiety. 

Muncie citizens, take heart.  Your property taxes will not be raised to meet any shortfall like the 11% increase we saw in 2006.  With property tax caps firmly placed in the Indiana constitution your homestead will not rise above 1% of assessed evaluation – with a maximum of 3% on other properties.  This is a bit of insurance for property owners.

Included in the HB1478 signed in 2007 is the ability to tax the working residents a certain percentage.  This is  known as Local Option Income Tax (LOIT).  This tax if imposed, will encompass all of Delaware County.  It was first introduced in 2009, by Muncie Council President Alison Quirk, which won another four-year term.   The outcry was simply the Muncie Common Council had not considered any other options before introducing LOIT at the highest rate available.  Adding to it, among other reasons,  unemployment and foreclosures were at a record high. 

 I believe it is obscene to tax an economically down people because government couldn’t control their spending, and made no attempt to do so. We may want to keep an eye on this one should it be brought back up.

One other area which isn’t far from our minds, is the concern the city may be spent into debt.  If you have been following the county, you will understand the county had a decent financial cushion going into 2009.  At the end of that year, the county was struggling to find $10.5 million dollars. 

It only took 12 months to go into debt. 

The ramifications have yet to be fully realized.  Just a little pin prick with the county building closed one day per week.  For  those needing to use the county building services, it probably affects them more.  The human factor saw 25 people laid-off.

The city on the other hand, will feel more than a pin prick if we go from black to red in a matter of months.  Some things take longer before the pain is realized.  Like the two-year audit of the Community Development Office.  Often we find the sins of the past rears its ugly head years after the actual event took place.

With a voter turnout of 29% our fate for the next four years has been decided.

It’s time-consuming, sometimes frustrating to follow local government.  Fortunately for me, I have a wealth of information available in the form of video, documentation, resources and people.  Living in the city you almost always have to do double duty…city and county both. 

Kudos to those which keep a diligent eye on the National level.  That must be very intense.

I followed the McShurley administration closely, and I hope you all gleaned a bit of information and insight into our local government scene.  God willing and the creek don’t rise, I hope to continue in this same vein.  That being said, here is a short list of things to expect in 2012.

  1. Coming up in 2012 are two projects which have already been earmarked.  I will go into more detail as the year-end gets closer.
  2. Department head appointments.  How departments are run and their effectiveness depends on the ability and experience of those appointed to the positions. 
  3. We still have close to six weeks before the new administration begins, Muncie expects to have a $3 million dollar balance (approximately) to carry into 2012.
  4. SAFER grant ends.
  5. Decrease in EDIT funds from the State of Indiana.
  6. Opening of Mock Fire Station.

Muncie City Council: Frustration and Politics Before People

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In council woman and current at-large candidate. Alison Quirk’s recent political mailer she says it hs been frustrating for all of us.  Yes, Ms. Quirk, especially for the people of Muncie, Indiana.

The October 3rd, 2011 City Council meeting was filled with frustrated city residents.   Last month Ordinance 34-11 was introduced to amend zoning ordinance from  residential zoning to  variety business zoning for property located on Nebo Rd. 

For those not familiar with the area, it is where Meijer’s is located.  What a stink they made about how a strip club could be built on this property.  The stink stemmed from a casual comment from the nearby church.  It wasn’t even an issue.  Let’s forget the other three corners are zoned variety business, too.

I considered it a no-brainer last month, and a silly attempt by the council to show concern for the residents.  However, it did pass last night.  Duh.

Ordinance 36-11 was replacing chapter 76 addressing abandoned vehicles.  The new ordinance mirrors the state law and allows for a non-reverting fund.  In other words, the money generated from these vehicles would go into a fund to only be used in this area.  Dan Gibson, city attorney explained this fund could go for expenditures and perhaps even hiring personnel.  Well, that perked up Mary Jo Barton’s ears.  Hiring?  She seemed ill-informed on non-reverting funds, although it has been a staple of government for years.  Attorney Gibson explained the non-reverting fund and how it iw would be some time before any personnel hiring could be done.  I hope that Mary Jo Barton would realize this would be a self-funded position if revenue materialized.  I fear she didn’t.

President Sam Marshall was confused about code enforcement.  Didn’t the MPD handle this?  Deb Davis, Chief of Police, spoke to his concerns explaining the police and code enforcement worked together.  Marshall said he thought there was no more code enforcement officers.  The Chief explained to the veteran city council member, and president, the code enforcement was from the Street Department. 

Next on the agenda was Ordinance 37-11 discharging firearms in the city parks.  State law changed in July to allow weapons (guns) in the parks.  The city had to amend the ordinance to what the State of Indiana passed or face hefty fines.  Some cities and town were already being sued.  Jerry Dishman said if he was being attacked, would he not be able to discharge his weapon in a park to protect himself?  First, there has been a ordianance  for decades on discharging weapons in city parks.  Second this new law was in the paper and I believe Mayor Sharon McShurley spoke before the legislatures.  Third shouldn’t the city council be aware of the changes.  It was introduced last month.  Surely, 30 days would be enough time for the council members to get up to snuff and informed.  Apparently not.

The zoning of the Layne Crest area to include 216 apartments was tabled.  Even though the auditorium was packed with residents from this neighborhood.  A spokesperson for the people addressed many issues.  Mr. Sam Marshall said he gave her enough time to speak, and anyone which wanted to address the issue should stay at 1 minute.

Looking back at the spokesperson from Albany which addressed the city council numerous times about animal control, she was allowed to speak as often as she liked.  Never mind she was rude to a council member and said the mayor was lying.  Never mind her town would not be using this animal control.  Any friend of current  Democrat candidate Nora Powell, is a friend of city council.  See a pattern?

Sam Marshal was attentive and considerate of the people opposed to the annexation and said it was the “Right and Moral” thing to do.  Perhaps.  But again, these people didn’t live, vote or pay city property taxes and Layne Crest resident do.  Why does city council continually support legislation and ideas that hurt our city and favor those which don’t pay one penny of taxes to our city?  They can’t vote for the council, so the only other explanation is their pattern of working against our city.

So much for Alison Quirk’s campaign mailer “People before Politics”.  She will continue to search for common ground.  Always searching, and never finding.  It must make her head spin as it did on the Tuhey Pool.

The last ordinance #40-11 was to change the signage on Cardinal and Hawthorne Drives from a yield to a stop.  I am not familiar with this intersection, but a tree is in the line of sight and because of the round-a-bout on Morrison the area is seeing more traffic.  This was Marshall’s shining moment, as Stan Hiatt, contract city engineer approached the council.  He asked Mr. Hiatt “Who told you to do this?” Mr. Hiatt said he didn’t know as it just came across his desk.  Marshall jumped on the opportunity to try to discredit the Mayor, yet again.  “You don’t know who told you?”   What is so interesting, is the city council doesn’t know much and it shows in their lack of progressive movement, but yet Marshall was hoping he could get a dig in on the Mayor.  Gimme a Break, Sam.

Putting aside,the small exchange with Stan Hiatt, shouldn’t this fall under the newly rejuvenated Land and Traffic Committee?  This looks like land and this looks like traffic, to me.  Oh, but since this isn’t high on the radar as a political football, it doesn’t mean much.  Funny, how we can invest so much time in the crossing after nearly four years, but a new issue which should involve this committee draws not much attention. 

Julius Anderson is having another meeting, and this time he will have a representative from the railroad present.  This make it meeting number five.  Nobody from the Land & Traffic Committee offered to drive by the intersections to assess the need for a stop or made any indication they would discuss it with Stan Hiatt afterwards.

I can’t understand why people of Muncie don’t see these council members have done nothing in the past four years except to tear our city down.  I spoke with two people after the meeting which aren’t even city residents and they said it was embarrassing to have these people govern your city.  I concur.

Watch the video.

Correction:  Jerry Dishman didn’t say if “I” was attacked, he said if “somebody” was attacked.  Sorry about that.  This was written from memory and notes early a.m. 

Had enough?

Vote informed.

Delaware County Budget And City Elections=Why the County influences the city and is it good or bad?

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The county is beginning its budget meetings.   Delaware County is looking at $8 million shortage, lay-off of 100 employees or at the very least three-hour reduction of work week or 8% cut in pay.  According to Larry Riley’s column today, the county council submitted a budget which is higher than the 2011 budget. 

 As many of you know the county was unable to meet this year’s budget and 25 people were laid off from their jobs.  I am trying to comprehend how the county council could submit a 2012 budget higher than 2011.  Is it a shuffling of money?  In other words, is the 2012 budget higher in order to cut and thereby giving the appearance the county has done due diligence to meet the $8 million dollar shortfall? 

We all know it is common practice to submit a budget higher than needed, that way cuts can be made, the county  can function like normal and everybody is happy.  Times are different.

During the spring budget meetings this year, the county borrowed from the rainy day fund.  Most understood the fund would never be paid back.  It would be impossible considering the current financial climate.  Today’s articles confirmed it.  We do need cuts, and there are plenty of things that should have never been done.  Additional hiring, $7 million dollar bond, forgiving a loan and receiving land as payment, changing lawyers and losing nearly a million dollars in taxes because of it, a county broke in 2009 and so on and so forth.

Every warning signs were ignored, poo-pooed as just citizens making a stink about elected officials.  Nothing could be farther from the truth.   The simple fact is, who we have in office is a detriment and it can’t be any clearer in light of the financial mess.

When I think about how our city council is a mirror image of the county officials, I can’t help but feel a tinge of uneasiness with the November election.  The very thought we would vote in the same people again and place Dennis Tyler as head of the city is extremely unnerving.    And it should be.

When members of our city council tried diligently to shuffle animal control to a county that was flat broke and lacked any real experience.  Giving away every asset paid for by city tax dollars, you and me, and give up any control the city would have in running the shelter, is amazing.  The city council paid no attention to the county’s finances or even considered how the county could afford the additional cost of animal control.  And they didn’t care.

This is nothing but dereliction of duties on the part of city council.  When a woman from Albany, Indiana stood before the council imploring them to take the county deal, and many of the city council members listened to her, while the people who vote, live and pay for this service were ignored and treated as if their involvement and concern for their city was nothing more than excrement to be scraped from the shoe.  We knew we have no representation on city council.

Now, the simple fact is this, city council never looked any further than the immediate.  It’s a good thing the Mayor of Muncie, Sharon McShurley vetoed this proposal or we would see our selves without any form of animal control at all.  Gregory, Polk and Conatser , city council members, saw the future and changed their votes.

I can’t stress this enough.  We can’t just look at the immediate without considering the future.

I implore all city voters to consider our future and vote with this in mind. 

I don’t support Alison Quirk, Mary Jo Barton, Jerry Dishman, or Nora Powell. Mark my words, having these people along with Dennis Tyler as mayor will see us in the same boat as the county.  If this is what you want, then this is what you will get.

But, if you have a strong desire to see our city move forward, then you will replace every single person that has hampered our progress and created nothing but drama for our city.  It’s your choice, vote informed.

Delaware County County council begins 2012 budget hearings

County fiscal crisis moves on briskly

Consolidation and Modernization poisioned by Muncie City Council!

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 Poison Ivy in the fall

Sam Marshall, president of Muncie City Council introduced changes to the Modernization and Consolidation.

Here it is in a nutshell.  For this to pass in 2012, there must be a vote of 66 2/3 vote.  A majority vote is 51%.

Jim Arnold asked if they would like the same to be applied to them…at the polls.

Another speaker asked if the City Council had the authority to speak for the county on this 66 2/3 vote.  The usual him-hawing and finally, I believe it was Marshall, said it had to match the county.  I was told, but can’t confirm, the county passed the same tonight.

It is so obvious to any person that has a brain, this was an  attempt to destroy the people’s right to vote.  Raising the vote to an outrageous 67%  is nothing short of self-serving and party line government leadership.

Voting for the 66 2/3 vote was (in alphabetical order):

  1. Julius Anderson Democrat (up for re-election) District 6
  2. Mary Jo Barton Democrat (up for re-election) District 3
  3. Jerry Dishman Democrat (up for re-election) District 5
  4. Sam Marshall Democrat
  5. Alison Quirk Democrat (up for re-election) At Large

Voting against the 66 2/3 vote was (in alphabetical order):

  1. Mark Conatser* Republican  (up for re-election) District 2
  2. Linda Gregory* Democrat (up for re-election) At Large
  3. Mike King Democrat
  4. Brad Polk* Republican (up for re-election) District 4

There is no gentle way to say this, these city council members are destroying our city and have shown nothing but lip service on her behalf.  It is time to vote them out of office in November.  And we need to do the same in 2012 on the county level.

They have been poisoning our city for decades and it has gradually been seeping into our roots.  “Round Up” the voters and let’s remove the poison from our city.

*Good city council members.

Crowe-Horwath Fiscal Study Presentation on Consolidation

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View Crowe Horwath fiscal study

The total presentation lasted approximately 45 minutes.  Commissioner Todd Doanati laid down the ground rules.  (Those were his words, not mine.)  There was to only be questions from the council members and the attorneys.  For the city, Joe Hunter and for the county it was Jack Quirk.  (Mike Quirk abruptly resigned.)  Missing from the city council was Mary Jo Barton (no surprise, there) and Mark Conatser (big surprise).  If memory serves me correctly, Mark & Linda Gregory were the only council members which were familiar with the Modernization and Consolidation proposal.  I don’t remember seeing Jerry Dishman.

Mr. Donati made a point to ask the representative from Crowe-Horwath if the company had enough time to do a thorough job on such short notice.  The answer was a resounding YES.  Mr. Donati just doesn’t get it.  He along with the other usual suspects aren’t listening to their constituents.  The problem was not the late hour of the study, but their total disregard and lack of interest on an important proposal given to them June 2010. 

In 2006 legislation was passes giving local governments the legal right to consolidate.  In 2007, neither city or county took the initiative.  A group of citizens gathered over 2500 signatures forcing the hand of our elected officials to move on this marvelous tool.  From the passage in 2006 we saw the Kernan-Shepard Report with recommendations that would save our state millions of dollars.

In 2008 the voters went to the polls and we consolidated all of the assessors.  Saving over $100,000 and creating a more uniform department.  As far as I know, not one single citizen has suffered pain from this first step at consolidation.  Countless articles have been written, in fact it was even brought up at the League of  Women Voters candidate forum in 2007.

The reason I am giving you all this background is simply to let you know the elected officials have let us down by allowing a good proposal  to gather dust for nearly one full year.  Certainly with all of the budget meetings, a combined budget of nearly 80 million dollars and knowledge of how the city and county are structured, the commissioners and city council should have been able to  reasonably assess the proposal.  However, because they lacked the will to do so, at the final hour both entities commissioned a study for $70,000.00.

For goodness sakes.  As many times as the resolution/ordinance has been voted on and voted down and tabled and then voted on again, you would think there would be some interest shown on their part when the proposal was finally completed. 

But, I digress.

It was hard to follow the financials without having it in your hands.  The cost analysis was on a screen and unless you were sitting very close, it would have been nearly impossible to read it.  Still, this is what I gleaned from the presentation.  I hesitate to put the numbers out there as I can’t guarantee they are 100% accurate.  Still, this is what my notes read.

A side by side study of current tax rates.  The company used use this to determine what tax rates would be if the sheriff departments was paid for by the unincorporated cities/towns.  All Delaware County pays into this budget now.  They used the 2011 budgets for both the city and county, took into account debt and revenue to estimate tax rates/levies.  (None of the taxing entities such as the library were considered.)  City would pay .68 and Center Township would pay .33 more..  For example, because the city taxes are so high now and Perry Township taxes are so low, they would see an increase.

Mayor Sharon McShurley said if the consolidation of Yorktown and Mount Pleasant went through this will increase the tax rate.  The representative said that was correct.

I hope to have the video link to post tomorrow.

Now, some of the candidates asking for our vote were at the scene.  Jim Arnold candidate for District 5, Murray Barthomome candidate for Council-at Large, Doug Marshall, and Nora Powell.

That’s all, folks.  The public hearing is tomorrow night 6:00 PM at the Horizon Convention Center.  Expect a media blitz of solid information from the reorganization Committee.

Jim Arnold Republican for District 5

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A smile and the election totals on the screen is all that needs to be said.



Muncie, Indiana 2011 Primary Results

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The 2011 primary results are in.

Visit the Delaware County website by clicking here.

For a printable PDF click on the link below:

Delaware County Election Results May 3, 2011

Picture from City of Muncie website.  Beautiful, won’t you agree?