Muncie Redevelopment Commission
Update: 2017 not yet over. Muncie changing EMS ordinance to clear the way to use the revenue for more than EMS. Read the article!
Muncie local government is so out of control. With the debt rising, investigations, lawsuits, public hearings, arrest one just can’t seem to catch their breath.
Bracken vs. City of Muncie public hearing was held on 11-29-17 in Noblesville, Indiana. Mayor Tyler taking the stand and under oath not recalling details of events. Yes, it is all about Madjax.
Todd Donati was called to testify and now people are looking at the State’s audit reports of the Muncie Redevelopment Commission (MRC) for 2014 and 2015. It will curl your hair when you read it. The scary part is Muncie’s debt including principal, interest is nearly $74 million.
Michael Hicks testified and put into question the City’s economic development efforts. City Councilman Dan Ridenour testified the information he received in the lawsuit differed from the information he received at the time the bond was approved.
Moving on. A few months ago Mayor Tyler wanted the city to have it’s own EMS. Currently, we have a county EMS. Then he changed his mind no EMS. Now he is actively working on a city-run EMS. This will be a disaster. And it’s self-serving not for the good of the community. City or County. Muncie was fortunate to receive federal funding for the Muncie Fire Department. When Tyler took office in 2012 there was $8 million from the previous mayor to fund the MFD. But, when the grant was not renewed, Mayor Tyler had no money so he passed a 43% income tax in 14 days. Well, that didn’t draw enough money, so he wants to have a city-run EMS to keep the 16 firemen employed.
Let’s just briefly (if that’s possible) review 2017.
- Building Commissioner Craig Nichols arrested and charged with 34 felonies.
- Damaging financial audits of the city.
- FBI investigation.
- Chief of Police resigns and files a lawsuit against the city.
- Prairie Creek reservoir substantially over budget.
- Muncie Fire Department facing layoff
- City acquires private property claims it was to keep the neighbourhood from deteriorating. Mayor and two council members live in this neighbourhood.
- The city takes over the financial records of Muncie Redevelopment after the audits. City controller resigns.
- Mayor Tyler and Todd Donati claim they weren’t on the board of Sustainable Muncie when the city decided to financial support with tax dollars. (Bracken’s lawsuit said they were.)
- Councilperson Nora Powell resigns from Sustainable Muncie’s board when Councilperson Linda Gregory said it may be a conflict of interest. The city attorney concurred.
- Tom Bracken sues the City of Muncie, Muncie Redevelopment and Muncie City Council. Courts will rule in January.
- The city of Muncie attempts to require Tom Bracken to put up a $4.5 million bond citing his lawsuit could hinder Sustainable Muncie (a/k/a MadJax) ability to get leases.
- City refuses to release attorney fees related to the FBI investigation. Issued public statement by city spokesperson Sarah Beach.
- Mayor Tyler said the city has always been transparent and Beach’s statement was not accurate. (Note: the fees still haven’t been made public.)
- Founding members of Sustainable Muncie (a/k/a MadJax) resign citing the direction has changed.
- Rumored the FBI is taking some interest in Sustainable Muncie. Has not been confirmed. (Update: Michael Hicks testimony 11-29-17 hearing.)
- Delaware County has given the city over 200 properties and none have been put back on the tax rolls. Delaware County stopped the practice.
There was a whole lot of shaking going on prior to good old 2017. That’s for another time. Look for a rundown on the SBOA audits and more…
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.
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
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
Discernment is woefully lacking. We prefer having our ears tickled and being told what we want to hear. Anything outside of this is considered evil. We don’t dare examine the past and be on the alert for warning signs.
You know, we sold the best school for pennies on the dollar. It was suspect from the beginning when the request for bid was written so only one company could bid. It would have been to MCS advantage to have competitive bidding. Who at MCS was overseeing this sale and what was told to the board?
Today, that building is up for sale and several people have lost their jobs. Donati washes his hands “We didn’t give them a tax abatement.” Yes, but he authored the sale.
So, when the mayor and city council show up with concern on their faces, you might want to ask why the MRC did not write the bid specifications to allow for competitive bidding? Oh, Mayor Tyler just appointed Donati, he doesn’t manage the MRC. Right.
This is akin to the Craig Nichols receiving bid work Or VAT which cost us a cool million or two.
The MRC had to open up the bidding for the Wilson property to anyone, but the requirements were narrowly written to make it most likely that ASONS would be the only bidder.
During Thursday’s MRC building, the only bid was opened and it was from ASONS
Source: Former Wilson school changing hans Muncie Star Press May 7, 2015