Have you ever wondered about Muncie’s finances or how the people on the city’s finance committee figure how to spend it? I know, it’s a mystery, right? Well, not any longer. Now you too can be a pseudo city controller. It’s easy. We’ll show how simple it can be. And it’s free.
The new report format is not as fancy as the older reports. Not as detailed, either. Nevertheless, it tells a story of Muncie from 2011-2017 in a clean, easy to read and understandable format. Muncie Politics has prepared two reports for you to review.
The first is the Muncie Tax Finance dashboard 2011-17. It’s Muncie at-a-glance report.
The next report Muncie Tax and Finance Time Comparison 2012-17 displays the tax rates and basic information in a clear timeline. Yep, the tax levy has increased every year. As well as the city payroll. 2015 wasn’t a good year for Muncie or Delaware County residents.
September 2015 the city raised a 43% income tax. From start to finish it took 14 days to pass that tax. Amazing, huh? The sad part is, no one even noticed prior to the tax increase the city finances were shaky. That’s o.k. because the city building commissioner received a nice raise and his company demolished buildings paid from the increased EDIT in 2016.
See, folks, it’s all good.
Now, if you want to explore the city’s taxes and finances all one has to do is click on the image below. Enter your favorite government agency and then choose the type of report. Bam! You are good to go!
You will be armed with enough information to make a wise decision at the polls come election time. When an elected official, an appointed “public” employee, or a candidate tell you something you’ll be able to discern if it is true or if they are just blowing smoke. A wonderful position to be: an informed citizen. A scary thing to those who lust after monetary gain for their benefit.
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…
Predicted in 2011, came true in 2015
In record time, may be a first, the Muncie City Council passed Local Option Income tax citing the decrease in property taxes. Despite Mayor Tyler’s belief there was enough money should the SAFER grant of $2.5 million/year not be awarded. He was adamant…NO LOIT.
The grant was denied- now there isn’t enough to fund public safety. Not enough to fund Economic Development Income Tax (EDIT), it appears. Yet, we were assured there was enough money with or without the grant.
The question is really, how did nine council members and one mayor not notice the decrease in property taxes for three years? I mean, the council works on a budget yearly, the mayor reviews it. So, let’s say they did see the decrease, but felt confident enough to rubber stamp every request be it from the mayor, department heads or the director of Muncie Redevelopment? (Both Gregory and Polk did question at times.)
Recently, Mayor Tyler said it wasn’t the council’s fault it was the property tax caps. Yet, despite the obvious decrease, it never crossed their minds to say no? It didn’t raise a red flag back in 2012? Why the sudden concern? In a span of two weeks the city realized it couldn’t afford public safety, held a public hearing and voted yes to raise your income tax 43%.
Let’s pull out the old excuse…Property Tax Caps. Yet, if caps are the reason, and the elected officials use as en excuse all the time, why do they spend like there are no caps in place? Imagine the possibilites if there were no caps. Nothing at all to reign in their spending. Because the city passed the 2007 budget with increased property taxes and spending, they themselves ushered in the push for caps. We seem to forget our 2006 pay 2007 tax bills. But, I digress…
Why were they so quiet for so many years when the figures were staring them smack dab in the face? Why didn’t the mayor and council inform the public? Did the controller send out smoke signals to the mayor or the council? Do we pay the council members a salary of $15,000 per year to withhold information that affects citizens? Looks like.
Not only do we have an additional tax, we are currently racing to a total debt of $65 million. And this only if we never borrow another penny. So we have graced the citizens with additional taxes and additional debt.
It’s interesting to note, property taxes only bring in about 10-15% of the total revenue (roughly). Sadly, no one seemed the least bit concerned about the renewal of the SAFER grant and their lack of concern gave the impression it was all under control. After all, we’re building canals, buying properties, forgiving property taxes, expanding TIF districts. We are so prosperous, we can’t even fund public safety without additional taxes. The appearance of prosperity is all paid for with borrowed money.
Some watched with concern, wanting to believe Mayor Tyler’s promises. We followed the revenue, and best as possible, the expenditures and found the figures to be disconcerting. As far back as 2011, it was predicted Tyler would move to pass LOIT and the council candidates would vote to approve. This is simply how they have always operated.
Below you will find the financials of the city. I would like you to specifically look at 2011 property tax draw and compare it to the 2012 tax draw. Nary a word to the unsuspecting citizens who cast a vote to keep them in office. You would think the council would feel some obligation to those who trusted these candidates enough to secure their seats.
To put it in perspective, the amount of property taxes received for the General fund only:
2011 – $17,380,388
2012 – $13,708,276
2013 – $14,739,837
2014 – $14,560,426
The total amount of revenue including grants, fees, local, State and Federal taxes etc. The City of Muncie received:
2011 – $90,393,089
2013 – $100,696,634
2014 – $101,147,218
Source: Indiana Transparency Portal Report Builder: Government Financial and Tax Reports
Thanks for hanging with us while we took a short sabbatical.
We’ll be recapping the latest fiscal events in a few days and offer suggestions for cutting the budget. Might even dig into the history annals and bring a few good quotes to make you laugh.
See ya soon,
For those of you voters living in the City of Muncie, there doesn’t seem to be much to draw you to the polls. In the majority of seats, there is just one Democrat running and no Republican. The exceptions are as follows:
District 2: The Republican ballot is incumbent Mark Conatser and Dan Ridenour. The Democrat ticket is Todd Smekens.
District 6: Democrat ballot is incumbent Julius Anderson and Richard Ivy.
At-Large candidates include three incumbents, Linda Gregory, Nora Powell and Alison Quirk. Three hopefuls Philip Gonzales, Marwin Strong and Robert York. This may be the hottest race – you can only vote for three and only vote if you select a Democrat ballot. Remember, just because someone appears on the ballot and you don’t want to cast a vote for that person, you are not obligated to do so.
You might be asking, where is Brad Polk? Well, he’s still here, sitting in District 4. Brad has no one running against him. Not on the Republican ticket nor on the Democrat ticket. In other words, Polk has already won the primary election.
I told you, the ballot is sparse.
“If you are unable to vote in person on Election Day you have the option to vote in person before Election Day at the County Building, 100 W. Main. The election room on the 1st floor. Absentee voting begins 29 days before Election day from 8:00am to 4:30pm and ends at noon the day before the election.” LWV Delaware County
“Are you feeling lucky, citizens? Well, are you?”
Making a play on words from Clint Eastwood’s famous movie, Larry Riley’s column continued with an outline of the debt the City of Muncie has accrued over the past few years. Read the rest of this entry »