Muncie City Council
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…
You 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.
“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….
Mayor Dennis Tyler is finally realizing his decade of campaign promises: “Jobs, Living Wage Jobs. Begining in 2006 and every campaign thereafter, Dennis Tyler promised jobs. Not just jobs but Living Wage Jobs.
With a mere $4.5 million dollars of tax dollars (most of what came from his tax increase of 2015) Tyler is going to do what Muncie Community School and Ivy Tech can’t do. He is going to provide job training.
Yes, folks, that’s correct. Job training.
The best part and you can’t miss the financial genius behind it, the $4.5 money will pay off the $1 million debt owed from the revolving loan the city set up for Madjax.. So, it’s not a total boondoggle. We get our $1 million back and they get out of debt with more money to spend.
I know we can all be happy, knowing our tax dollars are going into a training program. Ivy Tech should just close their doors.
While the six Democrat council members, Mayor Tyler and Todd Donati put their collective minds together to find a selling point on this bond…they came up with JOB TRAINING. Funny, we never so much as heard of job training….
You know Powell thinks we’re stupid because she made an effort to let the press know how she “struggled” with the decision.
The EDIT revenue carried over from 2015 was $189,470.54. The first year of tax revenue from the 2015 tax increase Muncie received $4,165,848.25. The city of Muncie dispersed $4,216,934.69 and ended with a balance of $138,384.10 for 2016. The city of Muncie spent more EDIT monies than they took in and tapped into the 2015 balance. In other words, if Muncie continues with this type of EDIT spending, and there is every indication they will, they will need to go to their second and third sources.
I would suggest the council members who voted yes keep an eye not only on EDIT spending but the financials of Madjax in the event we have to pay the bond payments. And further, monitor the job training program and provide updates.
Citizens: Don’t hesitate to contact your representative for information. They own it as the fiscal body of the City of Money. Please stay involved.
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
Todd Donati – Muncie Redevelopment Commission, President
When: Thursday 9-7-17
Time: 4:00 PM
Where: City Hall Mayor’s Conference Room
A public hearing on $4.5 million dollar bond for Madjax. The repayment is from leases and should they fall short? You guessed it….tax dollars will make the payment.
The bond money will help to pay off some of the $1.762 million in debt Madjax owes. Seems similar to a consolidation loan where you borrow money to pay off your debts and have one payment. You still owe, though.
In this case, if Madjax pays off their debt, but fails to make the bond issuance payment, the taxpayers will pick up the slack.
Since when did the Muncie Redevelopment Commission become a bank? We’re talking about $4.5 million dollar loan. Surely, if MRC has that kind of dough to throw around perhaps MRC should instead loosen up their purse strings and return $4.5 million back to the taxing entities.
Mayor Tyler claims he wants to help the schools, how about restructuring TIF districts? Instead, we’ll take even more money for the cash-cow call TIF districts.
Most everyone liked the idea of a Maker’s Place until we found out the city is dishing out money right and left. You have to wonder about the adverse reaction Bracken’s proposal created. There’s some money to be had or someone is going to benefit. Won’t be the taxpayers, guaranteed.
Some time has passed since council members showed some reluctance on this bond. Let’s see how they vote after their private meetings. Afterall, going against Mayor Tyler and his appointed friend Todd Donati might cost them Democrat Headquarters support come next election.