Muncie Fire Department
Good morning to all of you fine people. Much to be grateful today as the Polar Vortex train has left the station. Good riddance, say we!
On to more pressing news. Mayor Dennis Tyler announced he would not run for mayor of Muncie again. However, it has not stopped him from keeping his beloved dream of a city-run EMS program alive. It appears Dennis Tyler will do as much damage to this city and county as he can before we say “Adios Amigo” come December 31, 2019.
But, you never know if the FBI will come knocking on his door. After all, he was privy to the meetings where the elite of City Government schemed to cover Craig Nichols’ crimes. Tyler was an eye-witness, a willing participant in protecting Nichols’ rear.
Exactly how is Dennis Tyler going to pay for his dream? Why it’s simple. Rumor has it he will be tapping into the $400,000 Center Township pays the city for Muncie fire protection. What, say ye? Center Township is one of the many taxings entities the City of Muncie supports with property taxes. (Check your bill.) So, we’re assisting Center Township with city property taxes to provide fire service.
Kay Walker, Center Township Trustee on board with Mayor Tyler? Is she earmarking the $400,000 for the city-run EMS when a perfectly good DCEMS is already paid with Delaware County taxes? How will the MFD budget make up the $400,000 decrease in funds? Talk about double taxation. We will be paying for not one but two emergency medical services.
Does this stink to high heavens, or what? Is it not a typical shell game of shuffling funds from here to there? You bet it is. Don’t think for one moment Tyler’s last-ditch effort is anything less than a political move and one which causes serious harm to the City and County.
The funding Center Township receives to pay for Muncie fire protection is from Muncie property taxes. We shift money to Center Township and then Center Township pays the City of Muncie. Tyler claims concern for the city in reference to being double dipped (the concern is feigned, of course). Center Township is owned by Democrats for years. Delaware County is controlled by Republicans and this explains Tyler’s motive in a nutshell. Politics before People. Always has been with this crowd.
(On a side note: this makes for a good argument to abolish township governments. It really is just another layer of bureaucracy.)
Let’s just walk down memory lane.
In 2010 Muncie was facing a financial crisis. Firemen were to be laid-off and other cuts were needed just to keep the city afloat. The previous mayor Sharon McShurley and Kay Walker came to an agreement. This is it in a nutshell:
- The move to apply for the grant was tied to Center Township turning its firefighting force over to the city, and in turn, paying Muncie $250,000 a year through 2011 and then $400,000 a year after that for fire protection. Earlier news articles said the city would save $750,000 over the next two years and then $700,000 thereafter because of the Center Township agreement and concessions from the fire union.
Star Press 5-5-10
Dennis Tyler took office on January 1st, 2012. With this office came an inheritance from the previous administration…a goodly sum of $8 million earmarked by McShurley to cover MFD when the SAFER grant expired. For three years Mayor Tyler claimed enough money to support public services and would not pass LOIT.
That all changed in August 2015 when he and city council proposed the LOIT tax at the highest rate. No one seemed to remember how or when the $8 million was spent. The officials didn’t just pass one tax, they increased the EDIT tax, too. A 43% increase in income taxes was passed in a mere 14 days.
Today we have Mayor Tyler working to resurrect the city-run EMS. We’re hoping the FBI picks him up before he can create additional damage to the city and the county. The legacy of Mayor Tyler will continue long after he is gone. Don’t think for a moment the city will go unscathed. It’s going to be painful to fix this topsy turvy ship.
We decided to provide a small pictorial timeline of Dennis Tyler. We’ll begin with State Representative Tyler hightailing it to Urbana, IL. A failed attempt to shut down Indiana government. Then as now, he avoided the people. Every time Tyler is placed on the hot seat he disappears. And Urbana was no exception. This is where the phrase “Tyler is vacationing in Urbana” began. You may hear it said when Tyler refuses to speak or be interviewed by the press.
Next, we see candidate Tyler asking for your vote. He won by approximately 7,000 votes. 1,000 more votes than McShurley received in 2011 and in 2007.
Picture three is Mayor Dennis Tyler with a caption addressing one of his campaign promises “For the People” and the cost of his administration a 43% income tax. Well, the EDIT tax needed to be increased to fund Nichols’ property demolition companies.
Moving on is a meme created when Mayor Tyler first introduced his EMS project. It is meant as humorous satire. Although, there is nothing funny about his proposal.
City Council Meeting
Monday, February 4th, 2019
7:30 PM Muncie City Hall
As you all know, Mayor Tyler is speeding towards a city-owned EMS. Yes, if you haven’t yet heard, he is doing everything in his power to destroy a well-oiled County EMS service. Why? Of course, we know why. Politics before people.
You may be thinking, “No way would Mayor Tyler even consider putting the citizens in danger. He loves this great city per all of his public speeches.” Would he destroy DCEMS because of politics? Let’s take a walk down memory lane.
Immediately after Tyler lost his mayoral bid in 2003, he and his pal, Phil Nichols, were right back to the political games. In a 2004 editorial “Lack of proper plan for fires scandalous” the editorial board was referencing a letter two Democrat County Commissioners authored, The editorial states:
On Dec. 31, Stonebraker and St. Myer signed a letter to the city-county 911 dispatch center, ordering that Center Township trucks not be dispatched on emergency runs within the Muncie city limits. “(Some old-timers will remember) .
Stonebreaker, according to the editorial, said it wasn’t political at all. Never mind they did everything in their power to make Republican Dick Shirey’s life miserable. Definitely not political. (ROLLING EYES)
The editorial continued:
To deny political implications of the letter is to ignore the fact that chief architects of local Democratic policy are current party chairman Dennis Tyler and immediate past chairman Phil Nichols , both Muncie Fire Department officers. Their fingerprints are all over the letter, and they appear to have done little to discourage the animosity that exists between Muncie and Center Township fire departments.
Further evidence of political or government leaders being irresponsible is the report of five instances last fall when the Center Township department was not notified of 911 calls within its own territory.
Take note, MP Readers:
Shirey, Crouch and other local officials have said they believed the best dispatching procedure would be to send the emergency response order to the department that is closest to the emergency as well as to the department with official jurisdiction.
That would best guard the safety of citizens and their property. Anything short of that devalues human life and is a dereliction of duty.
Dual-response is recognized policy in well-organized fire districts across the country. Firefighting experts, consulted last year by The Star Press, agreed that dual-response is a must for Muncie and Delaware County.
‘It’s not rocket science,” said one of the experts.
Everywhere, that is, except Muncie.
Source: Lack of proper plan for fires scandalous Star Press, The (Muncie, IN) – Sunday, January 25, 2004 Author/Byline: StaffSection: EditorialPage: 2D
So, if you think for one moment Mayor Tyler is all about keeping you safe and that his EMS service will be top-notch, dear friends, think again. Tyler campaigned in ’03 and one of the big issues people had with him, among many, was Phil Nichols. Tyler hasn’t changed since then. The difference between then and now it was much easier to hide his involvement prior to being mayor. Not so much today.
To be continued…
Knowledge will forever govern ignorance; and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives. James Madison
Please take a look at Muncie’s financials.
These two reports ran in January 2016 and February 2016. The latest report shows a debt increase of $10 million.
Muncie revenue received for the years 2011 to 2015. The revenue sources includes property taxes, federal taxes, state taxes, local taxes, fees, donations and grants.
Detailed Receipts 2011 to 2015
If you would like to look at the revenue streams the reports below give details. As you can see, property taxes have been on a decline since 2011. This should have been the first clue.
When revenue begins to decrease while debt increases it would be wise to consider the cost of debt and what it means. The first cost was public services which could only be fully funded with a tax increase. The second cost is economic development and it will only partially be funded with the recent tax increase.
You do need to consider the cost. If the debt can not be met, and there are no more taxes to increase what then? Fees? Fines? You don’t need to be in the dark when it comes to Local and State government finances any longer. In fact, it is imperative, for our future, to be well informed.
James Madison was a wise man giving wise advice which is still relevant today.
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…
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.
$$Five Million Greenbacks and Some Change$$
Is there a $5 million operating budget or not? His inquiring mind wants to know. So, Dennis Tyler has asked his staff to not make any “spending commitments”. Mayor Tyler has his doubts and it is clear, he wanted to know the financial state of the City of Muncie. He asked the controller to quickly give him “an accurate picture of city finances”. We haven’t heard the new controller’s report update, though.
Looks like Mayor Tyler is confident the finances are there as he has begun work on the Mock Street fire station and preparing for it to re-open. There should be no doubt the city has the money or Dennis Tyler wouldn’t be spending. Obviously, he didn’t feel comfortable with the previous controller or the independent audit.
The first round of SAFER grants have been awarded, and Muncie is missing from the list. The SAFER grant of which Muncie received $3.5 million dollars used to recall 25 firefighters will be expiring this year. Center Township will increase its payment to Muncie from $250,000 to $400,000.
A video interview with Mayor Tyler on his first week as Commander-in-Chief, Mr. Tyler points to the messages he has received about the Mock fire station. Accolades, he said, from people praising the painting and re-opening of the station. If you are a fiscally conservative citizen and if you pay attention to local government, you may find yourself with more questions than answers.
Congressman Mike Pence showed up to congratulate and offer his support to Mayor Tyler. From there the two men went to a local high school where Dennis Tyler gave the students a brief history of his experience and a student asked a question.
“What are your goals for Muncie?”
Tyler: “His main goal of Muncie, like all mayors across the state and nation, is to create decent paying jobs. And hold on to the decent paying jobs we got and create newer, decent paying jobs, you know.”
This has kind of been his mantra since 2006.
The first week of December a group of economic and elected officials traveled to Germany to meet with a prospective business. Prior to the junket to Germany, then Mayor Sharon McShurley said the representative should be the future mayor, Dennis Tyler and she wouldn’t be going. Commissioner Don Dunnuck, who is not running for re-election was selected to go. No long-term relationship building there.
Fortunately for us, Dennis Tyler has promised his full support.
“What I’ve told the chamber is that I’ll partner with them in whatever ways we can to entice investors to Muncie and Delaware County,” Tyler said.
He said his administration — which takes office on Jan. 1 — would make representatives available for meetings with potential developers. SP 12-7-11
Well, at least there is a five-year park plan which should give the ex-county highway department employee plenty of time to get up to speed on running a $1,424,000.00 park system. We still need to put the final touches on Canan Commons and this will be the first full season for Tuhey Pool. Cardinal Greenway will be expanding and the grant money has been allocated.
“It’s been busier than I could have even imagined.” Dennis Tyler on his first days as Mayor of Muncie.
We were lucky.
Had not been for the tragedy at the Indiana State Fair, Delaware County may not be having this discussion. The grandstands are reported to be at least 60 years old…did anyone think it may be high time for replacement? At the very least, regular inspections of an aging structure should have been considered.
In October 2011, the grandstands WERE inspected. Major structural support problems were reported. Some of the wooden seating had deteriorated and the announcer’s booth was not attached to the metal structure. Instead was supported by wood planks.
December 1, 2011, the Muncie Star newspaper reported the grandstands had serious defects. Jim Mansfield, Fair Board president, estimated the cost of replacement to be $900,000.00. Apparently the decades old grandstand can’t be repaired.
How to fund it with a county that is cash-strapped? This is where it gets interesting.
Jane Lasater, Fair Board vice president, in a private meeting with Commissioner Todd Donati and others, brought up increasing the food and beverage tax. With a sunset clause, of course. At first, it was reported as Donati who suggested the tax increase. He quickly denied it and pointed to Lasater as the brainchild of the increase. Lasater cited Donati’s proposal for a combined animal shelter and a $3 million dollar bond for Muncie to reduce the Tuhey Pool debt.
If your head isn’t spinning yet, it should be. A quick note. Why would Donati even suggest a bond for Tuhey? The bond can be paid down or greatly reduced with the money the city has left in her budget. Shouldn’t President Donati be focusing on his responsibilities? One of which is the Delaware County Fair. It appears he has been a little lax in this area.
December 13th, 2011 County Council meeting saw some discussion on the funding of the grandstands.
Although no council member was able to confirm it, the food and beverage tax increase would need to go through the legislators and none were sure the increase would be acceptable. Jane said she spoke with two representatives while in Washington, D.C. Neither were willing to commit. Senator Lugar’s office wasn’t that accommodating and Brad Bookout said the county would be hard pressed to get a grant.
Ron Quakenbush said quite a bit of money was appropriated a few years ago and only repair was new seats. Lasater countered, Michael Denton had inspected the grandstands and the repairs were done based on his recommendations. This was about six years ago.
Lasater said there are only 21 volunteers on the Delaware County Fair Board and none have the time or the experience to fund raise. Therein lies one problem. A couple of simple requests for Band Day denied; a fee for the antique tractors; an increase in parking and you have a recipe for a decrease in attendance and far less revenue.
Not that doubling the parking cost was a poor idea, you do need some attractions that would offset the increase, though.
It’s no longer uncommon to take a tax guzzling entity and turn it into self-sustaining one . Case in point, Prairie Creek Reservoir. You just need the right people in place, someone who can think outside of “taxes” for creative ideas and sources.
Ron was looking like a cat that just ate the bird, when he made the comment…”The fair board is political.” Jane said it wasn’t. Quakenbush stated all the members were appointed by the commissioners. He went on to say when the commissioners took over from the Lion’s Club he predicted the fair would become political. I smiled just a little during the exchange, as Mr. Quakenbush was right on the money.
The County Commissioner’s took over the Delaware County Fair in 2001.
2002 was the year a last-minute switch for fire protection saw Center Township out and Muncie City in. It was also the first time Mayor Dan Canan donated to the fair. $10,000 of EDIT funds. Center Township Trustee, Dick Shirey was in the second year of fire protection after Muncie City handed him a bill for fire service. Nah, no politics there.
After Center Township made arrangements to staff and located extra equipment, Center Township’s Lt. Hackett spoke with fair board member Todd Donati and was told their services were not needed. In the past, the fair had been protected by volunteer fire departments. Center Township was free of charge.
‘We were disappointed,’ Hackett said. ‘I think it politicizes the fair.’
But, all that aside, I think the county is missing the point. Planning and preparing has not been one of their greatest strengths. The grandstands are the best argument to “be prepared”. The stands didn’t deteriorate overnight and no money was ever set aside for needful repairs, let alone any improvements.
Now, we are in crisis mode, yet again. We don’t have any money and a fair board lacking in time and experience to raise money.
Time is running out and from the county council meeting, an increase in Food and Beverage tax is highly unlikely to succeed. Maybe it’s time to tap into the rainy day funds. Or a bond? Perhaps Mayor Elect Dennis Tyler will share the EDIT funds. How about closing the Delaware County Building on Thursdays, too. Just some ideas to consider. (Tongue in cheek!)
Regardless, this isn’t the first crisis and it won’t be the last.
You may remember the first meeting was canceled because the committee forgot to post a public notice. The second meeting allowed no public input as the Land & Traffic committee’s goal was to get their questions in order and prepare a guest list for the next meeting. Last night was the third meeting.
Forgive me if I seem just a little testy, a little short-tempered and little angry. How stupid is it folks, to not invite the railroad to a public meeting on….the railroad? I am trying to figure out what is going through the minds of the Land and Traffic committee. Obviously, not much.
If you had attended what could only be called an “organizational meeting”, you would have noticed the chairperson, Mr. Julius Anderson, had taken on the responsibility of contacting various representatives which would offer valuable input into the closings of these railroad crossings. The list was short, but concise. The guest list included, Board of Public Works, Police, Fire, EMS and Norfolk-Southern Railroad
You may have noticed at the second meeting of Land & Traffic most of the questions and the conversation centered around Norfolk Railroad. Chairperson Anderson, Jerry Dishman, Alison Quirk, Mary Jo Barton and Mark Conatser all came to the consensus the railroad was the important factor.
At last night’s meeting, Julius Anderson announced he didn’t want to invite the railroad, so he didn’t. I don’t know about anybody else, but I find it truly amazing he decided to not invite the representative from Norfolk Southern Railroad.
“I know the railroad wouldn’t have acted on their own,” said Anderson, adding that someone in the administration must have signed off on the closings.
So, how does he KNOW this?
At the July common council meeting, with a representative from Norfolk in our midst, Mr. Anderson asked no questions of substance. He had done no homework. In fact, he and the others didn’t even show any interest at the prospect of our city gaining $4 million dollars. In fact, does any of the city council know we received $1.1 million for railroad improvements? Probably not.
Jerry Dishman asked if there was any documentation. Like documentation would really matter. They don’t read anything. What is so hard about taking the initiative to do some research on this issue, or any issue concerning the city?
- First meeting canceled – no notice
- Second meeting – disorganized
- Third meeting – no RR representative
So, either this was a planned political stunt, which would make their Democrats pledge to run a clean campaign 9-9-11 null and void. Or it was sloppy and lazy governing, which would make them poor representatives of our city. Or we may have heard how closing these crossings could benefit our city, and that would never do.
Regardless if it is one or all three, this is bad for Muncie City and bad news for her citizens.
All this, and we don’t even have an ordinance on the table.
Month after month Mayor McShurley was hounded at every Chat With The Mayor on when she was going to apply for the SAFER Grant. Even when the grant was not open for applications, it was the same song and dance.
We were told by the supporters of the grant there would be no cost, and we found that to not be entirely true. There is a cost. Muncie must have the front money and then be reimbursed. It could take months to get paid by the Federal Government. The Federal Government could find we are in violation and yank the funds. The grant could require payback of monies or even be blacklisted from grants.
Back in June 2009, a plan was brought to the eyes of the public. A group of citizens formed the Community Action Committee or CAC. This group put together a plan to keep Muncie Fire Department at its current level. The first item listed is a consolidation of Center Township Fire Department to include the building and the equipment. What wasn’t include was the ten paid firefighters and the 40 odd volunteers. They were out.
The CAC proposal included other items, but for this topic we will stick with Center Township.
In the proposal, Center Township would pay Muncie $300,000 a year until the trucks were paid off and thereafter $400,000. A copy was presented to Center Township Trustee, Kay Walker.
By the time the proposal was presented it was too late to realize any savings and the MFD experienced the first lay-off in the history of Muncie.
November came and still the question lingered on would the Mayor apply? There was much rumbling among the supporters of the grant. The deadline to apply was extended until January. FInally, Kay Walker came to the table. The agreement she made with the City was very close to what mirrored the CAC proposal she received in June, 2009.
With this as a main turning point, the Mayor and Walker came to an agreement.
The Star Press reported it as breaking news on January 15th, 2010 and followed up with articles all saying the the same thing.
- The move to apply for the grant was tied to Center Township turning its firefighting force over to the city, and in turn paying Muncie $250,000 a year through 2011 and then $400,000 a year after that for fire protection. Earlier news articles said the city would save $750,000 over the next two years and then $700,000 thereafter because of the Center Township agreement and concessions from the fire union.5-5-10
- “As part of a pending agreement, Center Township would agree to dismantle its fire department and pay the city $250,000 a year for fire protection in unincorporated areas.
Beginning in 2012 the township would begin paying $400,000.” 1-15-10
- “Perhaps of even greater significance, Center Township agreed to dismantle its fire department and pay Muncie for fire protection — $250,000 a year through 2011 and then $400,000 a year thereafter. “1-19-10
We should have paid a little more attention to the one word which as of today, has shed a light on the agreement.
The word for today is “Pending“.
You see, it appears that there was no agreement in writing, no legal document to seal the deal. Making this a verbal agreement and nothing more. I believe everyone thought it was a done deal, even some which were involved in the CAC before it was disbanded.
July 16, 2010, the newspaper reports that Kay Walker is no longer interested in the original verbal agreement and instead lists some very contradictory reasons. Now, Walker wants the agreement to go only until 2011, the year the current mayoral term ends. Second, she is concerned about the firetrucks and the payment.
Seven months to the day, and this is the first we hear of her concerns. Odd she would stay silent for so long.
Here is what was quoted in today’s paper.
- “Walker said that’s not the case. The township is still making payments on the equipment, she said.
- “”They can’t keep the equipment,”” the trustee said. “That’s Center Township’s equipment.””
Muncie can not afford to take on the debt of their trucks, which is why the lower yearly payments were considered. Muncie City is part of Center Township. Our tax bills show a line item of how much the city pays to the twp. In effect, Muncie has helped pay for the trucks.
The real kick to all of this is why after seven months has Walker suddenly come forward with this change of heart? If this was given to her in a proposal in June ’09, and again discussed in January ’10, why on July 16th, 2010 is this become an issue?
It’s a wash, it will always be a wash. Let Kay Walker and Center Township keep their fire department intact, and let Chief Burcham, the MFD and Mayor McShurley go back to the drawing board. Working with Walker will be a waste of time and energy. Move on.
The Mayor did her part, in good faith negotiated an agreement, filed the grant and it was awarded. Now, Walker has changed her mind. That is definitely her prerogative, since we are not legally bound to any agreement.
Let’s remove CTR Twp. from the mix and quit wasting time with a dead-end agreement.
And if you see Kay Walker on the street, ask her why it took seven months for her to come forward when it should have been addressed much earlier than one month before the MFD was to return back to work.
Oh, yes, don’t forget it is an election year. What political plan does she and Democrat Headquarters have up their sleeve on this one?
Voter her out of office. And remember if she should set her sights on the Mayor seat, look for an increase in taxes to fund what we can not afford. She will embrace LOIT, not as a much-needed revenue for the citizens of Muncie, but for her pet projects.
Mark my words.