If you have been following the City of Muncie’s financials, a shorted till will be of no surprise. If not, you may find your paycheck missing a few pennies as the rush to fill the cash register gets underway. Yes, folks, the LOIT has entered the minds of our elected officials. L-O-I-T (Local Option Income Tax) if passed by the City of Muncie, digs into the pocketbooks of every working stiff in Delaware County. I believed it was just a matter of time before it was introduced and approved.
I’m not going to spend much time discussing the merits or pitfalls of LOIT today. Instead, I am offering two articles and an opinion piece for your reading pleasure.
The first article is the introduction of the tax, setting the tone. The second, a recap of the first and lastly a column by a local journalist (saved the best for last). Perhaps after reading, you’ll get a better understanding.
Here’s a side note: A few months ago I crossed paths with columnist Larry Riley and the chit-chat soon turned to the SAFER grant. I asked if he knew the status. Nope.
Next question, if the grant is not renewed, how would the shortfall be met? Larry responded (much to what he penned) – Mayor Tyler stated there would be enough money to cover the fire department.
The previous mayor, McShurley, was asked the question in 2011 and her answer much the same. If the SAFER grant did not come through, there would still be money to maintain the fire department. Then she said good-bye and left the city with over $7 million operating balance.
The real kicker is after Mayor Tyler said the property tax revenue was down and the LOIT tax is needed for fire safety and to shore up the coffers of Economic Development Tax Revenue (EDIT) he proposed an additional amount of spending nearing $50 million.
Here’s the short of it all.
1.) Mayor Tyler – the city would have enough money for the fire department. Never a word to the contrary.
2.) Mayor Tyler – the tax revenue is down and will need to pass LOIT to maintain the fire department and EDIT funding.
3.) Mayor Tyler – reveals the $48 million canal project.
Chew on it a while…
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 greatest rationale to become a Leftie is immunity from the rules they impose on the rest of us. The sanctioning of the double standards and hypocrisy. Andrew Breitbart
Lately, I have been feeling slightly disenchanted with the state of human events. Actually, it has been brewing for some time. So, when I came across this quote which exemplifies my feelings, I filed it away for later use. Today is the day.
In Sunday’s paper (6-30-13), current city council member, Nora Powell had a letter published. The gist was she came back from vacation to find not one, but two articles in the paper where she was mentioned.
Recently, my family returned from vacation to discover we’d been mentioned in two of Larry Riley’s opinion columns.
The first instance of a double homestead, and the second a correction to the first article. She wasn’t really the focus of either column, only a mention. Nevertheless, she felt compelled to clear her name possibly recalling the firestorm this created back in ’09 when the former mayor, a former council member and current council member all were found with double homestead credits. However, only one person was targeted while the two council members basically went unscathed. It’s the double standard in all her glory.
Which lead me to another time when she didn’t feel compelled to clear her name. It was the 2011 election. Nora filed her candidacy with “Evans” as her middle name. With the ballots printed she was moved to the top seat on the ballot. The name that moved her to that number one spot on the ballot, Nora “Evans” Powell was mysteriously absent in this letter . No doubt, it will be back next election. We’ll see.
Many people felt the local Democrat party was giving Powell an edge. Marilyn Bennington-Smith filed her candidacy with her maiden name hyphenated and since she wasn’t a Democrat party insider she had to get an attorney to represent her. Ask yourself if this isn’t a classic case of double standards.
Powell’s letter took me back a few years to another elected official which came back from an economic junket in Japan. I respect former mayor, Sharon McShurley’s need to be private, yet this is a crucial point of this blog entry. The double-standard. The moment the McShurley’s plane took off, the rumors hit the runway. Filthy, vile, disgusting ranging from abortions to alcohol abuse to something as mild as her resignation. Imagine had Ms. Powell come back from her vacation to face 1/1000 of what she and others contributed in just a short four years.
One would hope that Powell has gotten a small taste of what it’s like and perhaps even those which helped the rumors blossom would think twice next time. I doubt it, though. Because in their eyes, the actions over a series of years are acceptable, and if it should happen to them it becomes the Cardinal Sin. Imagine if we critiqued Powell using the same standards (rumors, lies and innuendos)? Of course, we don’t because it was just to vulgar to recreate.
Double standard and hypocrisy is the breakfast of self-appointed champions of all things vile.
I’m going to take you back to the Arizona shootings. If you will recall, the media and leftist libs were calling for Sarah Palin to apologize. Why? Did she pull the trigger, and there was no indication she ever crossed the path with Jared L. Loughner, In fact he never even attended one Tea Party meeting. It mattered not. Yet rogue ex-cop Chris Dorner prior to his killing spree wrote a manifesto in which he praised Pier Morgan. Morgan tweeted this:
Is Piers Morgan responsible for Dorner’s actions? The answer is obvious. No. Any thinking person would agree. However, when you live by the double standard, your ability to think clearly and reason correctly is seriously impaired. If their standards were compared to alcohol levels, it would be 20 times over the stupid level.
After defending my views on the 2nd Amendment someone called me a supporter of murderers and criminals. One would wonder what he thinks of the author, James Madison. Never mind…
An article on former Governor Mitch Daniels, a local poster (although missing in action for months) had commented he hoped Governor Daniels had a heart attack and died. Texas State Senator Donna Campbell received emails “hoping you get raped” “hope your daughter gets raped” and so on and so forth. An article about Mia Love saw comments she was an Aunt Tom, a house n______. Dr. Ben Carson is a pawn and n_______.
Alec Baldwin tweets George Stark (a British reporter) is a toxic queen and he wants to shove his foot up Starks’ backside, and then he made a sexual reference. Anderson Cooper got wind of it and said had it been a conservative it would be virile in minutes. It’s all quiet on the homefront.
While the lefties are stomping the grounds with their outrage, real or perceived (mostly perceived) against any conservative, be that conservative white, black, Hispanic, male, female, straight or not, they are certainly silent when one of their own commits the thing they say they hate. Which leads me back to Andrew Breitbart’s brilliant quote:
The greatest rationale to become a Leftie is immunity from the rules they impose on the rest of us. The sanctioning of the double standards and hypocrisy. Andrew Breitbart
At the county council meeting on Tuesday, April 23, 2013, the wheel tax again came up for introduction The three year sunset clause is expected to expire in December, and the county must have the wheel tax approved and shipped off to the State of Indiana by July 1st. As can be expected, it is getting a wave of comments, ideas and criticism.
Do we need it? Probably. Do we feel we are getting our money’s worth? Nope. Is there any transparency as promised in 2009? Hardly. It’s as murky as a swamp. The big discussion is the sunset clause. The tax may have passed unanimously had this been in the ordnance up for adoption. It was removed. After all, even a smidgen of transparency is better than none
Council person Mike Jones posted on the local newspaper:
Frankly I’m not inherently opposed to a sunset clause, but feel it does nothing to enhance or detract from County Councils ability to implement or rescind the tax at any point in time. The requirement both on the city and county remain to submit paving plans are intact in the ordinance by April 1st of each year. If at anytime the Council determines that the Highway Garage is not performing as it should or other monies become available, the wheel tax can be rescinded at any time. “
Wheel tax still controversial April 24, 2013 Muncie Star Press
If it doesn’t add or detract, than what’s the problem? Include it and move on. The people want it. Read the rest of this entry »
Balancing precariously at 300 N. High St. stands the Scales of Justice. From the third floor of Muncie City Hall, the mayor looks over his subjects and cries… “Let justice prevail!”
Currently, Mayor Dennis Tyler, is embattled in two lawsuits. Perhaps, embattled is much too harsh. Nevertheless, Mr. Tyler is being looked at by the justice system and scrutinized by some of the citizens.
Lawsuit No. 1:
The first lawsuit has been initiated by Beverly Bilbrey which claims as State Representative, Dennis Tyler, promised to help secure her social security benefits and failed. Bilbrey said she contacted Dennis while he was representing Indiana District 34 and Mr. Tyler claims he never spoke with her. It’s a case of he said, she said.
Is it really? Read the rest of this entry »
Yes, folks, summer is just around the corner and it will be time to get the piers out at Prairie Creek, Tuhey Pool open and Canan Commons off the ground and ready for outdoor fun.
But, that’s not all. Muncie City was awarded $150,000.00 in grant money to build a mountain bike trail and eventually extend the trail from Cardinal Greenway to Prairie Creek campgrounds. This will be interesting to watch and view the progress. Let’s hope the weather holds out and we can get it completed in a timely manner and within cost. Read the rest of this entry »
One door closes and another door opens.
December 15th marked the last evening for Chat with the Mayor. Bittersweet.
Mayor Mac began the chat as usual providing information on different areas of the city. She introduced the department heads.
It was in essence, a state of the city address in condensed form. .
Thank you Mayor Sharon McShurely. You have been a wonderful mayor for our city.
Special thanks to the department heads. You have all been great.
So without much ado, here is the video of the last Chat.
On December 7th, Muncie Action Plan (MAP) will be hosting their bi-annual community meeting. For those of you not familiar with MAP here is a brief summary of how it began and where it is today.
Muncie Action Plan could best be defined as “Creating the first city-wide Action Plan”. beginning in the summer of 2009 with funding from various sources and presentations from three different companies, ACP Visioning+Planning, Columbus, Ohio was awarded the contract.
The next year would be a whirlwind of public meetings, presentations, and ideas presented until the final plan was completed and presented to the public. There was some negativity in the public forums of the local newspaper, but it didn’t seem to deter the plan from moving forward. Our local newspaper did a fine job of reporting the progress and updating the public.
Some would say this was a waste of money, time and effort. Other plans had failed and this one would also. I disagreed as Muncie isn’t just a place with buildings and infrastructure, but a living, breathing organism. The residents are the heartbeat of the city, we make the city what it is. I had the good fortune to be completely ignorant of any previous plans the city may have tried. To me, this was an excellent idea, and so I supported it from the start.
The Muncie Action Plan has five initiatives, and within the five initiatives are 47 actions.
- Linking Learning, Health, and Prosperity
- Fostering Collaborations
- Strengthening Pride and Image
- Creating Attractive and Desirable Places
- Managing Community Resources
Nestled within the five initiatives, you will find diverse and well-rounded “actions” to include. not limited to:
- Developing a Uniform Code of Ethics
- Developing the Downtown
- Blight removal
- Renovating Tuhey Pool
- Implementing the Prairie Creek Master Plan
- Early Childhood Development
The downtown has grown into a warm and inviting place (a far cry from the dull, dirty and dingy place it was 20 years ago) and a master plan is in the works. If it is as successful and fast paced as MAP, Muncie’s downtown will become more vibrant, more inviting, more events, more shops!
We have seen more blighted properties removed, and creative ways to salvage and recycle the materials. This has been a defining moment for the “war on blight”.
Within two years Muncie has begun to see the fruit of MAP’s’ labor. Just this summer we saw the reopening of Tuhey Pool. If you were unable to be at the grand opening day, it was a wonderful sight. The pool is beautiful and is an asset to our community.
Prairie Creek Reservoir has just received a $150,000.00 grant to expand the Cardinal Greenway. All part of the Master Plan.
Early Childhood Development, which is a long-term “action” has been extremely active. Delaware County’s Vision 2016 Economic Plan, which includes early childhood development will partner with Muncie Action Plan. The following are excerpts from the Muncie Star Press (5-21-11) on Vision 2016 and the importance of early education for our children.
“You have to start somewhere,” Mayor Sharon McShurley told The Star Press. “U.S. high school students rank 24th out of 30 developed countries in math and science.” McShurley cited a U.S. Chamber of Commerce study that maintained, for every dollar invested in early childhood education for children birth through age 5, “savings range from $2.50 to as much as $17 in the years ahead.”
Economist Michael Hicks, director of the Center for Business and Economic Research, gave the Muncie-Delaware County Chamber of Commerce high marks for including early childhood education.
“Researchers have known for a long time that this was important,” Hicks said. “Few small or mid-sized communities (like ours) have yet to incorporate it into their planning, so in that respect they are progressive.”
Ray Montagno, a professor of marketing at Ball State who led the Vision 2016 sessions, said early childhood education was added to the plan because “it sends a message we take this seriously and it adds long-term value to the community.”
Cincinnati, OH began a similar program “Success by 6” over 10 years ago, and MAP was privileged to attend a presentation in October. From what I gleaned, it was very exciting and everyone came back full of enthusiasm at Cincinnati’s progress and success.
I hope you will agree, Muncie Action Plan has been good for our city. If we have seen this much Action within two years, imagine what else can be obtained.
From a citizen’s view of Muncie Action Plan.
Please plan to attend.Date: December 7th, 2011 Time: 5:30 PM Place: Minnetrista 1200 N. Minnetrisa Parkway ~ Muncie
A guest column by German Cruz titled “Vulgarity in our civil affairs”gets to the heart of what ails Delaware County. As always, Mr. Cruz is elegant in his presentation of local events. His words, no matter how majestic, no matter how true, will undoubtedly fall on deaf ears and blinded eyes.
After the 2010 primary votes were tallied, the local Democrat party ended the evening in a loss. A clean sweep by Team Democrat candidates found the Democrat Headquarters’ supported candidates not making it out of the gate.
With the physical ejection of the media, and the public forums lit up with the disdain for the winning candidates, one wonders…does it really matter if it is a victory or a defeat? Vulgarity is displayed regardless if it is a win or lose election.
Then as now, there was no apology given to the press or the citizens for their behavior…there is no need, the actions are justified and even supported.
Now, before you say this is something new and civility and ethics have reigned supreme long before Lee Hamilton spoke at Minnetrista, I would like to take you back a decade when newly elected Republican Joe Russel introduced a code of ethics to the county council.
New council President Joe Russell proposed the code of ethics, which included pledges to represent the interests of taxpayers and ‘not use my service on county council for my own personal advantage or for the advantage of my friends or supporters.’
Veteran council Democrat Todd Donati was more critical in his assessment.
‘I think it was uncalled for,’ Donati said. ‘All of us know what our job is; we don’t need it restated by some Republican thinking.’
As much as I would love to claim ethics and civility as Republican thinking, it would be in vain. Ethics and civility is more an individual characteristic, and those which practice it in their personal lives normally carry it into the political arena. They align themselves with others of like mind. In the past four years, having been introduced to several Democrat and Republican political figures, it’s encouraging to find ethics and civility isn’t just talk. We need to support this these types of candidates and elected officials. All parties.
Now, more than ever before, the people are responsible for the character of their Congress. If that body be ignorant, reckless, and corrupt, it is because the people tolerate ignorance, recklessness, and corruption. If it be intelligent, brave, and pure, it is because the people demand these high qualities to represent them in the national legislature. ]f the next centennial does not find us a great nation … it will be because those who represent the enterprise, the culture, and the morality of the nation do not aid in controlling the political forces. James A. Garfield
Moving on to another opinion piece, Larry Riley’s regular column begins to address the 2012 election. Specifically, the county race in Circuit Court 2. Running with the Team Democrat is Kim Dowling which has been campaigning since the 2011 primary. She will be one to watch. Don Dunnuck, currently the county commissioner and a long-standing Democrat insider, has announced his intentions to run. Mike Quirk, Democrat Party chair, announced his sister will seek the same office as Dowling and Dunnuck. It’s still early, but Kim Dowling is the best of the three.
If you are interested in modernization and consolidation, Riley’s column is spot on. A good read.
Moving on to the lead story, Tyler: No ‘good old boys club”, Mayor-elect Dennis Tyler promises Muncie will not be lead by the “good old boys”.
But, what is far more interesting is his comments on the 911 lawsuit. This lawsuit alleges the city has been over charged for 911 services by the county for at least a decade. The suit cites an interlocal agreement from 1987 which spells out the costs the city is obligated to pay.
Outgoing mayor, Sharon McShurley, believed the city should not bear the majority of expenses, and the county said we should.
Mayor-elect Dennis Tyler and Democrats seemed a little more than perturbed the public was eyeing the 911 lawsuit with suspicion. And why not?
Immediately after Tyler’s win, the paper reported Delaware County council members talking about how they would spend the money. The attorney for the county, Mike Quirk, which is also the Democrat party chair, and rumored to become the city’s attorney, said he wanted to spare the city the cost of a lawsuit. Commissioner Todd Donati wants it gone, too.
These are all people very closely aligned to Tyler. With all of this, it would be hard not to view it with suspicion.
And the county which is millions of dollars in debt, needs the money.
It will barely make a dent.
Vulgarity in our civic affairs Star Press 11-27-11
Next year’s politics offer even more Star Press 11-27-11
Tyler: No ‘good old boys club” Star Press 11-27-11
911 dispute delayed again Star Press 11-29-11
The purpose of this entry today, is to simply introduce you to the department heads and employees which helped make this city great the last four years. It would be impossible to mention each and everyone by name, and for that I apologize if anyone has been left out. The city employees are some of the finest people you will ever meet. Working tirelessly to take our city into the 21st Century with progressive ideas and an overall perfomance that is unbeatable.
I am very proud of our city and much of that pride can be attributed to these very people. A HUGE thank you.
A special thanks to Mayor Sharon McShurley for sharing the vision, successes and the obstacles with the people of Muncie. Without the city updates and presentations during the Chat with the Mayor, Muncie would still be an illusive and sometimes complicated government.
So, without further ado.
Muncie Parks Superintendent Matt Bailey – Filling the shoes of his predecessor, Doug Zook, better than one could hope. Seeing Tuhey Pool and Canan Commons through completion, he was also responsible for ADA compliant playground equipment in several parks. Much of the funding came from private sources. Friendly, humourous, intelligent and dedicated. Matt has a Bachelor of Arts from Indiana University.
Fire Chief Sean Burcham – Leading a fire department through tremendous times. To say that Mr. Burcham had a difficult tenure as the fire chief would be an understatement. Sean has had numerous classes and certifications and is a 22 year veteran of the MFD.
Grant Writer Sherri Contos – Sherri, a contract employee, was instrumental in securing a $150,000 grant to extend Cardinal Greenway at Prairie Creek reservoir, along with mountain trails. Buley Center, Energy Grant and worked tirelessly for Google Fiber award. She worked on the SAFER grant. Sherri has a BA in Economics.
Police Chief Deb Davis – Chief Davis is one of my favorite department heads. Coming up with innovative and cost saving ideas for the Police Force. Like Chief Burcham, she dealt with financial shortfalls and budget cuts like a pro. People have often commented on the improvements within the department.
Community Development Director Connie Gregory – From January 2008 through 2011, Connie managed millions of dollars in federal funds. Moving the CD from being dangerously close to a shut down by the Federal Government to a shining example of how a federal program should be administered. She has done a fantastic job. Connie will be retiring in December. Connie has both a Bachelors and a Masters in Elementary education. She will be missed.
Superintendent Board of Public Works Pete Heuer – In 2011 Pete Heuer was responsible for nearly $7.5 million dollars in infrastructure improvements. The projects included, but not limited to, 25 lane miles of paving , 20 lane miles of pavement/cracked sealing and 107 lane miles of pavement markings/striping. Completed Phases 3 & 4 of the White River Greenway project (partnership between Cardinal Greenway and City of Muncie). Muncie expects to take delivery of a 16 ½ ton dump truck/snow plow and two 1 ton dump trucks/snow plows. Funding for the equipment was secured through a federal grant. Pete’s education is Bachelor of Science – College of Applied Sciences Technology, Industry and Technology. He is INDOT Trained and Certified.
City Controller Mary Ann Kratochvil – A Certified Public Accountant, Mary Ann knew the budget like nobody’s business. Dealing with State audits, Department of Local Government Finance and a decrease in revenue couldn’t have been a walk in the park. Mary Ann always told it like it was. Honest, straight forward and there was never any doubt in the minds of the people, she felt a tremendous amount of responsibilty to the city. Mary Ann received her BS at Kent State University, has over 20 years in the private sector, six years as Muncie Deputy Controller and four years as the City’s Controller.
Executive Assistant Stephanie LeBlanc– Stephanie came to the City of Muncie after working for the Red Cross for five years. Her experience in office administration spans 20 years of non-profit, private, public and government sectors. Two years into her employment found her the lone person in the office. Stephanie is one of the kindest and dedicated people I have had the pleasure to meet. A transplant, she has fallen in love with the city most of us call home. She is a graduate of Indiana Wesleyan University
Prairie Creek Superintendent Bobby Patterson – Bobby worked closely with former Parks Superintendent, Doug Zook, in realizing a profit at PCR. He oversaw the installation of the $50,000 playground equipment and promoted PCR to the outside world. Bobbie received the Good Government award in 2009 for his efforts in improveing Prairie Creek.
Building commissioner Steve Selvey – Appointed after Jerry Friend retired. Mr. Selvey came to the table with a wealth of knowledge and experience in the building trades. He was a project manager for Muncie Community Schools and Ball State University. He holds a BA in Finance from Ball State University.
Director Energy Department Dick Shirey – Dick was instrumental in securing a three-year energy grant as deputy mayor. With these funds, Muncie wa able to change traffic lights to LED saving thousands of dollars for our city. As Deputy Mayor he did double duty as the interim Board of Public Works Superintendent.