Muncie Fire Department
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.
Pictures of the fire can be found at this link. We were on our way to Prairie Creek when we saw the fire trucks and police. The fire was pretty much contained when we arrived.
Please pray for the Muncie Mission.
From today’s Star Press (7-5-10). Here is how you can help.
Here are the mission’s most pressing needs:
• Meals: The kitchen was damaged and food ruined, meaning the mission doesn’t have a way to feed the men who live there. Don Ford, director of development, is looking for churches, restaurants or other groups of people to provide meals for at least the next two weeks. Groups would need to be prepared to feed at least 50 people — perhaps as many as 75 — and provide all table settings. Call Ford at 212-0461 to sign up to provide either breakfast, lunch or dinner.
• Men’s clothing: Clean clothing — including socks and underwear — can be dropped off at the New Life Center, which houses the resale shop.
• Money: Cash donations can be sent to the Muncie Mission, P.O. Box 2349, Muncie, Indiana 47307. Donations also can be made online at www.munciemission.org.
Note: The mission’s electrical system was damaged by the fire, and that has knocked out its telephone system as well. Temporarily, the mission has assigned this cell phone number as its main number: 744-3902.
We have no news on whether Muncie will be awarded the SAFER grant.
What we do have is a column in today’s paper (4-4-10) by Larry Riley. According to Mr. Riley, the City Council will introduce a resolution asking Mike Pence, Evan Bayh and Dick Lugar to put in “a good word” for us. Don’t forget, this is the same council which voted in another “resolution” condemning Mike Pence for his stand on earmarked funds. The council said it was on behalf of the citizens of Muncie. If my memory serves me right, Conatster, Gregory and Polk voted against it.
Anderson is already slated to receive $609,000 in grant money.
Mr. Riley states the grant application had some odd numbers. Apparently, the total amount of people serviced by Muncie Fire Department is 119,000. This is the total population for Delaware County.
In addition, it looks as if the MFD is wanting to expand their borders and include the residents of the county. There is also a question of the amount of fire hydrants. Nothing new in Riley’s article about Kay Walker, Center Township Trustee, wanting to close their fire station. She campaigned on it.
The LOIT is not going away, folks. It was included as a creative way to retain the firefighters after the grant money runs out. I guess we can understand why Vice President Alison Quirk has refused to table it. That is a whole ‘nother story.
So, I would suggest you pick up a copy of today’s paper and read the column in its entirety. I believe it is an eye-opener.
Special meeting on the de-annexation movement of Halteman Village and Brewington Woods started promptly at 5:30 PM in City Hall Auditorium. (This place is like my home away from home.)
I won’t keep you all in suspense, the vote was 6-3. No surprise there.
Mark Conatser made a mistake in saying that Muncie has grown. It really hasn’t. In fact Muncie’s population has dwindled. I don’t fault Mark, as he is in his second year as a city council member. Sam Marshall said the same thing two years ago and he was coming up on his 21st year anniversary in the same city council place.
Yep, Muncie is losing people. Until you actually look at the Census records you can’t imagine how many we have lost.
Mary Jo Barton asked the audience “Have any of the tax people talked to you?” She was addressing those which live in the proposed annexation areas. Heads shook no and a no or two could be heard.
I am sure Ms. Barton believes there was some basis to this question.
The simple truth is, only nine people hold the power to continue the annexation or vote it down. I wonder if one of the nine city council members, namely, Mary Jo Barton, talked to the residents of these two areas? That should fall under her domain as an elected official. This is just plain lazy to expect citizens to do her work.
I was deeply touched by Vice-President Quirk’s concern about the budget problems. Only took two years to realize we had one.
In closing, if you should wonder why people are not clamoring to move in to the city limits, please attend a city council meeting. You will wonder no more, I promise.
Oh, yea. I almost forgot. We still don’t know if this de-annexation ordinance is legal or not. Guess we will need to wait and see….