Mayor Dennis Tyler

Transperancy in Muncie, Indiana government-a commentary

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Mayor Tyler and the City of Muncie is in the news again.  This time it’s over the city’s refusal to release attorney fees.  Freedom of Information request was denied.  City’s spokesperson, Sarah Beach,  on behalf of the city,  claimed it was “privileged” information.  The state’s public access counsellor disagreed.

Four days later after the letter was released in the paper, and not without public criticism, Mayor Tyler held a one-minute press conference.   That’s all the time needed to discredit the letter.   The city’s feeble attempt at damage control.  Again.

You know the letter Beach submitted to the newspaper was approved by both the city attorney and Mayor Tyler.   Now Dennis Tyler is saying it was inaccurate.

Tyler said Friday that the city “has always and will always be transparent to its citizens.”

So, let’s look at the transparent government.

In 2012 the City’s building commissioner re-opened his business and immediately received city contracts.  It wasn’t until Walls & Ceilings was fined by OSHA the public became aware.  (It was rumoured Nichols was doing work.)

The city’s Neighborhood Investment Committee (NIC) program birthed in 2015.  For this program, the city buys and sells properties to revitalize neighbourhoods.  Some of you may remember East Central Reinvestment Corporation (ECRC) funded with federal dollars.

East Central Reinvestment Corp., a pioneering local CHDO founded in 1986, went under after defaulting on mortgage payments on 13 houses in 2008. ECRC spent more than $3 million to improve more than 80 properties before HUD cut off funding to it in 2006 after an investigation of conflicts of interest and other complaints. Muncie to prop up housing rehabbers with HUD 4-1-2011

What’s happening with the NIC program?

Last week we learned Delaware County gave the city  215 properties and not one has been put back on the tax rolls.  Where is the transparency?  Does anyone know the status of these properties?  Nope.

Or the status of the Village?   Or the transparency of the Muncie Redevelopment Commission?   Did we know city money was filtering into the building commissioner’s wallet?   Did we know Mayor Tyler was preparing to pass a 43% income tax?   The press conference on Nichols’ arrest, was Mayor Tyler transparent?

Or that Tyler and Donati were board members of Sustainable Muncie? (Both said they resigned and Beach went on to say Tyler’s involvement was as a “figurehead” only).  Of course.  At the final hour, Tyler said there would be a job training program.  Transparency.

The night he won a second term, he declared to followers “I will never lie to you.”  Cheers.  Every time the city gets caught they blamed it on someone else.  The increased tax levy in ’12.  McShurley’s fault.  Traffic lights not synced, blight program delayed, no paving grant?  The State’s fault.

Do you ever wonder why the former MRC president resigned right after Donati lost the election?  Perfect timing.  Or how about bid specifications written specifically for the companies the city favours?  The building on Walnut, Wilson School, VAT.  Was the Mayor transparent or distressed when MSD purchased the building for $300,000 based on an inflated appraisal?  Did Mayor Tyler or Todd Donati give any indication the city was buying the Rutter Building?  Or how much rental revenue?  Do we know?

Woe to those who increase their wealth on the backs of the people they were elected to serve.  The readers may not agree with this statement, but they are to be pitied.    Lacking integrity, greedy, and they will not enjoy the fruits of their labour.  It’s tainted fruit. It has soured in their bellies.  But then again, if one is void of honesty, integrity, empathy and virtue they will think they are the victims of unjust circumstances.

City refuses to release legal fees

City denies withholding information

Publicity is justly commended as a remedy for social and industrial diseases. Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman.  The most important political office is that of the private citizen.  Louis Brandeis

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The punches just keep comin’

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Muncie City Seal copy
City of Muncie Government Seal

Mayor Tyler claims his administration is transparent.  If this is so, why is it that citizens learn of events after the fact?

Take Halteman Village Pool for example.  A little background, if I may.  Halteman Village is a subdivision in Muncie.  The mayor and two city council members live in the subdivision.  It has a private pool.

Two years ago the City of Muncie gave Halteman Pool $10,000 for repairs.  Later we found it was in lieu of swim lessons.  The pool closed.  We have a public pool and for some unknown reason (Mayor Tyler seems to have forgotten) why swim lessons could not be offered at the beautiful Tuhey Pool. (Tuhey  had $2 million and more invested and yet the mayor chooses to finance repairs on a private pool? – let it sink in.)   A former board member stated after receiving the $10,000 the pool closed three days later.  Do the math….$3,333/day for swim lessons.

On October 22, 2017, citizens found Halteman Pool was deeded to the city in August.  Who knew?  A quit-claim deed was filed,  now the City of Muncie owns another pool and in Mayor Tyler’s neighbourhood.    But, here is where it gets good.  Halteman Pools was  $16,000 in delinquent taxes and a mortgage of $30,000 (according to the paper).

So why was the property deeded to the city in the first place?  You’re going to love this explanation from Sarah Beach spokesperson for the City of Muncie.

“The property was given to the city of Muncie because the owners were no longer able to maintain and operate the property,” Beach said. “The owners did not want the property to become overgrown and donated the property to the city. The city accepted it so that we could maintain it and prevent it from becoming an overgrown eyesore and devalue the neighborhood.”

But ya know, there are many properties in neighbourhoods which are run down, why is this property special?  Because the mayor and two city council members live there?

The property has was been sold in the tax sale last month.

I’m glad the mayor has his best interest in mind.  To avoid his neighbourhood from going to pot, he’ll just gobble up property with city money.   And then he’ll have the city mow and maintain it.   And then we’ll take the property off the tax rolls.  And then Mayor Tyler will come to us with his proverbial hat in his hand and cry about how the caps are hurting the city.  And then he’ll devise a way to increase or implement new fees like he did with the landlord ordinance.

If all this doesn’t stink to high heaven and just scream of improprieties….

Read the full article here.

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

Is Muncie the new Love Canal?

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If you have been following the development of the old Indiana Wire and Steel property here is an updated site with quite a bit of information from those who are living in the neighborhood.

The paper hasn’t been reporting much if any, and certainly, the City of Muncie and the Redevelopment Commission has not brought forth any updates.

IDEM was at the site on Thursday (April 13, 2017) and so far there has not been any information on their findings from that visit.

So you may be thinking, “Not my concern” but if the concrete is contaminated and it stands to reason it is, the particles can be airborne.

So, take a look at the Facebook page if you feel so inclined.  A video has been posted on April 12th showing the condition of the property.

 

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1123293014418066/

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.