Mary Jo Barton
In the summer of 2013, the City of Muncie embarked on two projects. One was Prairie Creek Reservoir bathhouse and the other remodeling of City Hall. At the city council meeting the bond issuance was voted on (a yes vote, no surprise) and the bond debt was $4,000,000.00.
We heard from city grant writers of the private donations for PCR, unfortunately, it had to be mums the word on donors. I watched from the sidelines of the citizens gallery as council woman Mary Jo Barton shook her head in disbelief at the condition of City Hall.
True to form, she most likely forgot the requests for money for upkeep and repairs. Forgot about the information of the leaking roof or curled up carpeting. Forgot she consistently voted no for any repair money. Imagine for a moment if the roof had been repaired when needed, could have avoided $600.000 expense. Sadly, we will never know the true cost of a roof repair. There was no need to pursue it. Council said NO.
I can’t tell you the exact date City Hall was built, but it was during the Carey administration. For decades, no money was allocated for maintenance on the building. When the previous mayor requested funds, you can imagine all the comments on the newspaper forum. One even said there was no need to budget, as it was a newer building. Mayor McShurley was crazy to ask the council for money. Indeed she was.
However, all buildings, even 25 year old ones, require general maintenance now and then. The point is, citizens were aware of the roof leaking as far back as circa 2010, but a person with over 20 years as a sitting council person did not?
So we fast forward to 2014 and find that not only did we pay for new landscaping to replace maturing and beautiful plants, we get to replace the roof at a tune of $600,000.00.
The metal roof, which is supposed to have a 50 year warranty, is approximately 25 years old. Half the life span of metal roofs and a little better than an asphalt shingled one. President of Muncie Economic Development, the one who presented the bond to the city council, said the roof was improperly installed and the warranty has been voided. Mayor Tyler has been reported to blame the previous administration for not allocating funds. So, there you have it.
According to Todd Donati, since the roof was improperly installed, there is no warranty recourse. Once again, the taxpayers are on the hook, financing less than stellar craftsmanship. We had the sting of the Justice Center and the Gawd awful construction, in which we saw cost overruns, additional bonding, lawsuits, etc. The Justice Center was so poorly designed, it actually is an ineffective building for its intending purpose.
Of course, who could forget the Royerton Sewer System fiasco, another shoddy government project in which parts had to be replaced. Once again at the taxpayers expense. Time does not allow for listing all the mismanagements of these projects.
So, today, we can add the City Hall roof to the list. Or can we? Has anybody seen the reports and the costs associated with the replacement or repair of this roof. Not really.
An excerpt from Muncie City Council June 2014 meeting minutes:
Committee Reports: Barton asks if he (Energy Systems Group) did repair the roof. Koons stated they have provided several options to the Building Commissioner and it wasn’t part of the agreement.
It appears the only option considered is a complete tear-off and an additional $600,000. If you are interested in the other options, get in touch with the Building Commissioner.
The train has just pulled into the station and its tooting its horn. All aboard for the ride. Here we go….
The newspaper reported June 26, 2014 the city is wanting to implement a “quiet zone” at a cost of approximately $4 million. This doesn’t include the $237,000 study on the project. But, wait a minute, didn’t the previous administration ask Muncie City Council to consider permanently closing 9th & 10th street crossings? Wasn’t there a possibility of $4 million in funds? Yes, I think so. I won’t bother you with a lot of details, the city council would not even entertain the idea.
Read about the August 2011 council meeting here.
A committee laying dormant since 2007 was resurrected after the August 2011 meeting. The Land & Traffic Committee went into full swing. Councilperson Mary Jo Barton, representing District 3 for 16 years, was appointed to one of five positions on the committee. 9th & 10th streets, the proposed closed crossings, resides in District 3.
Talk about a speeding locomotive. The Land & Traffic Committee scheduled their first meeting two weeks after the city council meeting. Before the first public gathering started Councilperson Barton was working the auditorium. She had lots of questions and it was more than obvious she was itching to fight for those crossings to be reopened. A few minutes past the hour, the meeting canceled due to no public posting. You can read what transpired at this meeting and the subsequent meetings. Search the blog for Choo Choo or click the links below.
For months one of the biggest campaign issues was the railroad crossings closing. Of course, it was so big they were wiling to toss out the quiet zone and $4 million bucks. That just shows how important this issue was to Muncie City Council.
Of course, after the election, the train jumped the tracks and it no longer mattered. The Land & Traffic Committee stopped meeting. I don’t believe they have met or done any land and trafficking business since 2011. Now that the paper has reported 9th street may be permanently closed, will Barton put on her armor and fight for her district? I am guessing no.
On January 2nd, 2012, after six months of very little activity, the ordinance was tabled. The reasons, we were told, parking and legalities concerning the ordinance. I would think six months be plenty of time to straighten out the issues. It really was just politics as usual at the expense of the citizens.
President Dishman asked Mayor Tyler his thoughts on the street closing. A short moment of silence and the mayor gave his answer. He followed what the paper wrote and “other” things and said he was certainly willing to look at it.
The June 26th article quoted Tyler “This the boldest project to improve our quality of place in the city of Muncie in many years,” Tyler said. “And it’s the right thing to do for Muncie.”
I’m going to respectfully disagree with the mayor. This is not the boldest project to improve our quality of life. Boldness would have been for the Muncie City Council to put aside their politics and carefully consider the possibility of $4 million, and pursuing a quiet zone.
Three years have passed, no movement on the closings, no quiet zone and the taxpayers will be funding at least $4 million for this project. That’s not bold, that’s business as usual.
For those of you which live in the Univeristy Avenue area, you may want to take note of a citizen and homeowner who is shedding some light on Muncie’s aging storm/sewer system. You may just think “It’s not in my neighborhood…” It very well could come to yours. Sure, we have a lot on our plates, however planning ahead and preparing for the future can save a lot of headaches down the pipe.
The following letter was published in the Muncie Star Press on September 27th, 2013.
The city of Muncie has allowed and approved the construction of an apartment/commercial complex between University Avenue and North Street, and between Martin and Dicks streets, without proper sewage connections to the only 12-inch (inside diameter of pipes are only 9 inches) combination storm/sewage system that is 100 years old.
This line is too small for present use, much less adding extra sewage and runoff with new construction. The $50 million-plus project (200-plus apartments and maybe 10 retail stores) has not allowed any new sewage lineage.
It seems no one is willing to discuss this future problem with me as a local taxpayer.
Many of my neighbors cannot use their basements or flush their commodes in heavy rain in the area with combination storm and raw sewage.
No one wants to hear me complaining about this future problem. I think EPA should bring an injunction to stop this construction until Muncie invests and installs a new sewage system.
It seems the city only wants the new tax money from this project, yet refuses to install new sewage lines for all the additional development.
We have problems when most neighbors take the plug out of their basement drain, the water pressure in the sewage line will hit the basement ceiling. Pressure has cracked some basement floors.
Why will no one talk to me about this future problem?
Please help me before it is too late.
Muncie Sanitary District – Bill Smith (765) 213-6412
Muncie Mayor Dennis Tyler (765) 747-4845
Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM)
At the same time, Tyler acknowledged that Democrats will now control both city and county government locally and with that control comes expectations.
“This isn’t going to be easy,” he said. “. But I think people will be pleasantly surprised.”
WALKER/ROYSDON REPORT: Tyler: No ‘good old boys club’
The cats out of the bag now. The newspaper reported today the city might be millions of dollars short in property tax revenue. Ouch. Back in ’09 the city was $4 million dollars short and by the time the past administration left office, there was $7,596,218 balance and the tax levy decreased in 2012 from 2011. Read the rest of this entry »
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In the opinion sections of newspapers, Lee Hamilton, former U.S. House Representative, wrote Some suggestions for improving Congress. For the most part it’s interesting. Love him or hate him, depends on his topic. For example, Hamilton spoke at Minnetrista Center May 2011, the topic? Civility in Civics. Sadly, many of our elected officials didn’t show to hear his presentation
Perhaps if the Democrats had gone to hear Mr. Hamilton speak, they may have refrained from acting the fools on election night. I am pretty sure nobody sang “Ding dong, Donati’s gone. Donati’s gone, Donati’s gone. Ding dong, Donati’s gone when he lost his commissioner’s seat last November, and he is a red-blooded, toe-the-line party Democrat foot soldier.
Yet, election night 2011, Democrats party loyalists sang with gusto “ding dong the witch is dead” they left messages on answering machines, they flocked like crazed maniacs to the public forums and posted over 200 comments in just a few hours.
Their candidate wins and this is how they celebrate? This topic is better left for another day, another time.
If you are interested more of Hamilton’s writings visit Center on Congress.
Did you know every two years we vote for one person to represent us in Congress? Uh huh. But, I’m not here to talk about Congress… I’m here to talk about irony, double standards, and just plain donkey dung. Read the rest of this entry »
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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.
O.K. I’ll make this brief. Just how much has the spending or wish list amounted to so far?
April the estimated spending (based upon newspaper articles) according to the figures was $1,490,450.00. Included in that figure was the cost of Mock Station, Downtown Development, Community organizations, Roberts Hotel, etc. Well, I was off a few bucks.
Mayor Dennis Tyler released his EDIT spending and the figure came in at $1,536,507.00 a difference of $46,057. 00. The spending plan differed slightly from the earlier newspaper articles, but really, who cares?
Next on the agenda is the purchase of a fire truck at $879,647 pending approval of City Council. We purchased new trucks less than three years ago and acquired Center Township’s well-oiled and maintained fleet.