quirk mike

Saturday morning ramblings: MSD & new business is really old business

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toiletMuncie Sanitary District and you.  Seems the MSD appointed attorney, Mike Quirk, has a new business venture,  Small Office Solutions.  Apparently it is a collection center and the one of his first, if not his first client is the Muncie Sanitary District.

Yes, folks, you heard right.  His business SOS which was just created on August 21, 2013 was the business to grab that contract.  Sure, he signed a disclosure agreement, which isn’t worth the paper it’s written on.

MSD is $1 million behind on delinquent sewer bills.  An amnesty program failed to collect much money.  The MSD attorney creates a new business, and the MSD gives the MSD attorney the contract.  Did I mention he signed a conflict of interest disclosure form?

MSD hires collection call center

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What’s happening with Concerned Citizens of Delaware County for Property Tax Repeal? Lots!

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Greetings fellow citizens of Delaware County!!!

There is so much going on with our Organization, Delaware County and Muncie (especially with the imminent Municipal Elections) that we felt obligated to send out an alert and give you a quick summary of the most recent happenings…..

Our organization of the past 3 and a half years, The Citizens of Delaware County for Property Tax Repeal, Inc. has recently undergone a legal identity and name change. Effective January 1, 2011, the legal identity of the organization has been amended to:

The Citizens of Delaware County for Good Government, Inc.

And we are very excited about 2011!! Thanks to you, the property tax caps are permanently in place. Our organization has now made a decision to tweak our identity with a name change. From this point forward, we will be legally registered and recognized as “The Citizens of Delaware County for Good Government Inc”. The alteration to the name represents a more encompassing identity of what out recent focus has been. We believe this change will make us even more effective and allow us to partner with other groups both locally and statewide. As, has always been the case in the past, we will continue to zero in on local and statewide issues that expose waste, fraud and abuse and general bad governing as well as those that result in favorable outcomes for the citizens.

Also, please be reminded that we are currently in our annual Voting Membership Dues and general donations drive period. The recipients of this alert are encouraged to consider their ongoing support of our efforts. This all important annual consideration for membership or donations is the primary funding resource for all our efforts throughout the year. We truly believe there is no greater bang for your buck than the positive changes that we have made together in Delaware County or the State of Indiana for that matter. Just as a reminder, a few of the primary efforts that we’re constantly involved with are:

Annual website fees and costs as well as its daily operations

Newsletters

Miscellaneous mailings and email alerts

Annual 4-Corners Community Updates

Election year Candidate Forums

Discussion Panels

City-County Reorganization

County-Township Reorganization

Assessor consolidations

Video documenting and webcasting of government meetings

Statehouse lobbying efforts

Annual Property Tax Appeal HELP DAYS!

Participation and assistance to various committees and public efforts associated with setting local construction wage packages, sustaining the Public Access Channel 60, the Muncie Action Plan (MAP) as well as County and City Redevelopment issues and efforts.

…..including all the rental, insurances, advertisement and other miscellaneous expenses associated with the previously mentioned efforts.

It’s important mention to that all of our active members and volunteers deliver nearly 100 manhours per week of personal time for the pure love and caring of our County and its communities, nothing more. They all work very hard for free. We have been very blessed to have such a group of forward thinking and hard working individuals and embrace and encourage others to get involved as well.

It’s extremely important for the future operations of this organization to consider your economic support. If you are a property owner/taxpayer, we would urge you to take a look at your 2007 property tax expenditures versus your 2010 property tax expenditures. All of us have enjoyed some savings at least due in part by the efforts of this organization and the citizens of Delaware County.

For the record, our annual budget has ranged between $6,000.00 to $10,000.00 per year with the election years seeing more expenditures. 2011 is an election year. The Mayor’s office and some extremely important Muncie City Council seats are on the line. Please bear that in mind regarding any consideration you’re giving towards your continued support of the CDCGG. Our Core, Voting Members, pay a $200.00 annual dues. This is the threshold established in our bylaws to allow one to cast a vote concerning the annual election of our organization’s Officer and Board members as well on various other important issues throughout the year. It also will afford those Voting Members a weekly emailing of our Meeting Agendas and Minutes. We are amending our By-laws to accomodate a business membership, so if their is an interest to support out efforts through an entity other than individually, please contact an Officer or Board Member or the Citizens of Delaware County for Good Government.

We hope that our efforts, supported by YOU, to confront the many issues that face us here in Muncie and Delaware County can continue. We ask that you please continue to support us in 2011. ANY denominations would be accepted and greatly appreciated! If you have already made a donation to us this year, know that your investment will be held in the highest regard relative to the return on your hard-earned money.

On to other things!…..

As everyone is well aware of this is an election year for the municipalities. We’ve finally are coming to the threshold of being able to make some well deserved and long awaited changes. We’d like to think that our efforts over the past 3+ years have brought to light the very serious deficiencies that we suffer relative to having the elected officials capable of individual and creative thinking and the tough decisions that come with newly restricted revenues in the face of a recession and tax caps. Over the course of time (decades?) we’ve suffered through generations of the elite, hand-selected governing officials often synonymous with the ruling hierarchies of La Costa Nostra and the focus of local governing way too often being driven by sustaining familiar feifdoms.

This year, we are growing very optimistic with the propect of having several new faces step up and join in the effort to run for an elected office and serve their community.

Many carry some very impressive resumes. We are still very early in the candidate enrollment window (January 19 – February 18 (noon)) and we sincerely hope to see several other good citizens decide it’s time to make a difference and jump into the fray. If you rub shoulders with an individual who would make a good public steward, we would implore you to let them know and nurture their consideration, if any, to get involved!! The most current lineup of Primary Candidates can be found at:

http://www.forgoodgovernment.com/politics.html

Last week we had Mayoral candidate, Ralph Smith, come and visit us at our Executive meeting to introduce himself and answer some questions. This week it will be Ty Morton, City Council At Large candidate, the following week, Harold Mason, City Council Distric 6 candidate and the list grows as we see additional candidate filings and the approach of the Primary Elections. We’ve allotted the beginning of each meeting for guests and we hope that the candidates of all political persuasions will take advantage of the opportunity to attend. We realize that there are those in some of the political circles that don’t really embrace our efforts and will not voluntarily engage us, and that’s fine, we’ll just go out and engage them and report back.

Most recently we stumbled upon the total bungling of the Delaware Machine delinquent personal property taxes that saw $845,000.00 of taxes being discharged in the Delaware Machine sale without being escalated to a priority/judgement status in accordance with IC 6-1.1-23-9. As if that wasn’t enough, and to add insult to injury, the Delaware County Commissioner’s legal counsel, Mike Quirk, in collaboration from the Delaware County Commissioner’s President, Todd Donati, appeared to have overstepped their authority in manipulating the Treasurer and his duly contracted collections attorney into abandoning their pursuit of the collections of these taxes in favor of Mike Quirk and his partner attorney, Joe Hunter, assuming the collections and, of course, miserably failing to salvage a nickle’s worth….AND….in the process costing the taxpayers another $10,000.00 in their legal fees to boot. Great job, guys….we’re so glad you got to make a little “pocket change” off of us. If not malfeasance, certainly misfeasance.

Speaking of the Treasurer, it has been rumored that the County and City will be out another combined $4 million next year due to declining property values and delinquent taxes. Most recently we saw the publishing of 1145 properties in the tax sale of March this year. Actually, it is our belief that that the majority of these properties constitute those that weren’t sold in the nearly 3,000 property tax sale of last year. We would imagine that there might be another tax sale in the Fall to pickup those properties that have hence since fallen delinquent as well. Who would like to wager that in all the budget-making processes each year, not one consideration is ever given towards delinquent taxes?…and we wonder why these taxing units are always falling short?

And since we brought the Commissioners into the conversation, let’s share with you their most recent annual reorganization where they move on making their appointments to various boards and commissions, generally done at the first meeting of each year. Well, it appears that Commissioner Donati, et al. had spent his Christmas Holidays attending to his quid pro quo agenda and putting together his wish list of appointments for the coming year. Unfortunately, shortly into his appointing process at the first meeting of the year, we interjected that he was in violation of a County ordinance requiring him to announce said board and commission vacancies in an open meeting affording all those interested an opportunity to apply for the appointment or position…..

Ooops. We thought we heard him mumble something to the effect of amending that ordinance. At the following meeting, when the Commissioners picked up where they had left off and came to the reappointing of the Delaware County Fair Board, they reappointed the majority of the sitting Board until we once again informed the Commissioners that, by their own hands, they had passed an Ordinance last year dictating a simple majority on the very Board where they were busy appointing 13 Democrats, 6 Republicans and 2 Independents….Ooops, again. This time, a very frustrated Commissioner Donati outright stated that he was going to instruct the Commissioners attorney, Mike Quirk, to draw up an amendment to the “conflicting ordinance”…..How convenient….Don’t like the rules dictating transparency and fairness…we’ll just change them.

The Delaware County Redevelopment Commission has been very busy over the past couple years. The $8 million reserve in the Morrison TIF has literally been exhausted, even to the point that we question whether in the current economic environment, the Morrison TIF will be able to meet its own debt service….of course that’s a debt that could have easily been retired saving the taxpayers millions and freeing up tax revenues for the taxing units that serve the area, but that would have meant that either the TIF be abolished or new debt for improvements in the TIF be authorized and this would have required the blessing of the City of Muncie that now holds over half of the TIF’s assets.

So long as the Redevelopment Commission holds the retirement of the existing debt at bay, they can effectively manipulate a huge amount of captured City taxes without the City of Muncie’s input or control whatsoever. What we were able to accomplish was the release of nearly $400,000.00 of captured residential taxes in the area, much of which went back to the local schools serving the area. Watch for further manipulation of the Morrison TIF which is a cash cow for the County…at the City’s expense. Another “bone” that we picked with the Delaware County Redevelopment Commission was the issue of their legal expenses associated with their closely held “yes man”, Tom Pitman of Barnes and Thornburg out of Indianapolis. At $465.00 per hour, Mr. Pitman has spent the lions share of his time finding loop-holes in the existing TIF laws by which the DCRC has used to move the majority of reserves out to the Park One TIF and to build a roundabout at Morrison and Jackson outside the TIF area proper.

 With routine billings to the Redevelopment Commission approaching 6 figures, we protested that this service could be accomodated for far less. Commissioner Donati (the “mover-shaker” who claims to have no control over the business of the DCRC) interjected that if we could bring someone willing to to the job for free, he would be willing to entertain a change in legal counsel. Why we obviously couldn’t locate legal counsel to provide pro-bono services, we did indicate that there was several local legal entities (DeFur Voran and Beasley & Gilkison) perfectly qualified and capable of providing the service at a fraction of the cost. Ahh…but alas…unless we could bring forth a pro-bono consideration, Donati et al. weren’t interested in a change……Huh? Just gotta love the rationalization of those spending other’s money as opposed to their own. So the exploitation of our TIFs and tax dollars continues.

The 911 controversy carries on, and after discovering the complaint and all the agreements associated with said services, it appears that the City has been both overcharged and unfortunately overpaying nearly $500,000.00 per year. The fourth and last amendment to the agreement, Resolution 18-87, stipulates that the City pay between $225,000.00 and $300,000.00 per year. This Resolution can be found in the 911 complaint filings on our website: http://www.forgoodgovernment.com/Misc%20Info/911%20Complaint%20and%20agreements.pdf

Little wonder why the City sued the County for $10 million.

Okay…let’s end this alert on a positive note!….Brevini is gearing up for production and has been hiring (while painfully slow), and while we have expressed concern to the local Redevelopment officials that there is a Madison County staffing operation (Continental) involved that might not be working in our local interests, there is some hiring being done through the local Workforce Development Office. Twoson Tool, while we vehemently objected to the use of $3.5 million of the Morrison TIF reserves to move them out of the Morrison TIF and the City of Muncie, appears to be increasing their numbers as well. Then there’s the huge announcment of Progress Rail moving into the old ABB facility. 650 jobs!! All said and done it looks like over the next year, we could see an influx of about 1,100 new jobs to the area and that is very good news. Let’s keep the ball rolling and do our due diligence in moving our local governing bodies towards improved, responsible and responsive representation.

That’s all for now (although there’s a whole lot more). Have a great week.

Please share this email alert with others!!

The Citizens of Delaware County for Good Government

Muncie Animal Control – What’s It All About Anyway?

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So much talk about how this new ordinance is the best plan for animal control.  Consolidating of both city and county, streamlining government and saving taxpayer’s money.  And it’s for the animals.

Is it really the best plan ever? 

 Well, my curiosity was aroused after perusing an online story chat about the pitfalls of Animal Control and how the county MUST be in control.  So, I asked, why is this plan better than the others?  I was met with some hostility by the supporters but all the supporters agreed this was the best plan for us.

How can a county which has had many failed attempts at animal control be so positive this one will succeed?  Just where will the money come from to fund this “absolutely the best plan ever”?  After explaining my concerns about the county’s finances and lack of any animal control experience, I was told “Ya don’t know nuttin”.  

They were right.  So, I did a little research. 

My first stop was the Delaware County Humane Society Proposal.  41 pages covering everything from cost savings, plans for a campus environment conducive for animal adoptions, funding, hiring, ordinances and plans for future expansion.  I was impressed.  It was like a dream come true.  Could Delaware County finally solve the 25-year-old problem of animal control?  Alas, this ordinance was struck down after an organized effort to destroy the plan.  Sometimes we can be our own worse enemy.

Next stop was the elusive plan everyone talked about, nobody ever saw.  This was the plan which sat on the Mayor’s desk for months.  It has been dubbed the Dunnuck-Beach Proposal.  Although, the proposal has some merit, it lacks long-term planning.  How the revenue monies were figured is anybody’s guess. 

The Bookout Plan which has now become the animal control ordinance soon followed.  Echoing many of the same ideas as the Dunnuck-Beach proposal, it also lacked a comprehensive long-term plan. 

Both the Dunnuck-Beach and Bookout plans are relying on other cities and towns to enter in for a nominal fee.  So far, none are willing to bite.  Other additional revenues consist of fines, fees, donations and grants.  Neither proposal has put any dollar amount, estimated or true to the fines or fees, so there will be no guarantee this will be substantial income.

In fact, the council passed the Bookout plan as the ordinance without any dollars set for fees or fines.  The salaries were included, though.  Salaries are always considered separate ordinances, so why were they included?  Kind of messed up if you ask me.

Also not included were any animal control ordinances and no board in place.  Like the cart before the horse.

We come to the Mayor’s Animal Control Proposal.  Included in the proposal was the agreement between the city and the county, budget and updated ordinances to include county-wide animal control.

The proposals are listed at the end of this blog.

The county is proposing the city turn over all its assets, all control of any say in the operation of the shelter and pay an additional fee on top of it.  I believe if the county wants the assets and control, it should do so by completely funding it from the general fund like all county services (exception Communication Center).  The county is in poor financial shape and needs animal control.  They can not possibly fund it, so they will do what is basically a take over.  With City Council’s blessings, of course.

I have been told the county has made concessions.  Then I asked, “How can the county make concessions when they have nothing to concede?”  No shelter, no equipment, one employee and no history of experienced animal control.  They have nothing really to offer.

Neither Commissioner Dunnuck or County Attorney Mike Quirk could come to any agreement on how to handle the ponies which were killed.  One advised the owner to seek an attorney, the other believe it should be turned into the County insurance.  This is another example of the inexperience the county has to offer the city.

The Muncie Star Press ran an article on June 20, 2010, about two Labs picked up by a citizen,  She called the city and was told it was the responsibility of the county.  City does not offer this service to county areas.  The county said unless the animals were hurt or sick they would not pick up the dogs.  After a little government shuffling, the county picked the animals up and transported to Henry County Animal Shelter.  So, again, something as simple as a dog pick up was botched.

Please take a few minutes to read the proposals.  If you believe the Bookout proposal is the best, do nothing,  If you think Muncie should retain control, please contact any member of Muncie City Council, Delaware County Commissioners or the Mayor.

DCHS proposal  (Note: This is a large PDF document, please be patient while it loads)

Dunnuck-Beach proposal

Bookout Animal Control

Muncie_Animal_Shelter_Draft_ Agreement

Muncie_Animal_Shelter_Draft_Budget

Muncie_Animal_Shelter_Draft_Budget

More information can be found at Citizens of Delaware County for Property Tax Repeal

Muncie City Council:

Alison Quirk: 765-288-5319
Mike King: 765-282-3709
Linda Gregory: 765-286-2925
Sam Marshall: 765-288-0478
Brad Polk: 765-288-0571
Mark Conatser: 765-744-8862
Jerry Dishman: 765-215-9747
Mary Jo Barton: 765-289-9494
Monte Murphy: 765-286-4154 or 765-288-0516

Delaware County Commissioners

Larry Bledsoe  765-747-7730

Todd Donati  7-65-747-7730

Don Dunnuck  765-747-7730

City of Muncie

Mayor Sharon McShurley  765-747-4845

Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue – Animal Control in the 21st Century

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A new animal control proposal is fresh off the press. With not having the proposal in front of me, I can only go by the Star Press article published today. I have a sneaking suspicion it is very similar to the proposal from last summer. Hence the title, something old, new, borrowed and blue.

Mike Quirk, counsel for the commissioners, came before city council at the December meeting with an animal control plan in his head. Unfortunately, he wasn’t very knowledgeable and one wondered why he had even asked to speak. 

 Glad he did, the citizens and the city council learned something new that night.   It appeared the county was in the planning stages with the city, but the only person included for the talks was President Alison Quirk. Later we found that President Quirk had met with the county council to “discuss” the new animal control. Well, the Mayor wasn’t invited and neither were the city council members. I find that odd.  In fact, by the look on our elected official’s faces, this was the first they heard of it.

How could President Quirk and Brad Bookout take a decades old problem called animal control and devise a proposal so quickly? In my opinion it is simple. Just borrow from the old proposal introduced last summer and call it new. Kind of like the marketing tools used to sell products. New and Improved.

Below is a summary from the article and my two cents.

Someone feel free to correct my math. Muncie’s budget is $316,000. Brad Bookout proposes city costs would be $225,000. This doesn’t add up to $200,000 savings for the city as Mr. Bookout said. More like $91,000.

The county has budgeted $75,000 and $25,000 respectively for 2010. Or a ball park figure of $100,000. Bookout proposes county’s share would be $149,000.

The total cost for city/county would be $373,000.

In addition it would be co-funded (is that a word) with the same outside sources, which brings us right back to the problem of people arguing against the “dog tax”.

It looks to me like we just re-invented the wheel. This is not some outstanding new revelation of animal control; it is just the recycled proposal from last summer. This should have been adopted, since it was the best plan.

Mr. Bookout layed out how the appointments would be distributed.   Two city council, two county council , one from the mayor, one from the commissioners and one from the sheriff.  We know how that will be. Polk, Conaster or Gregory nominates someone and three yeas and six nays from the city council.  Then of course we have the hiring of the executive director who is only allowed a 5 year term.  You know, “to prevent the job from becoming a political reward”.  (They talk a good game, huh?)  I fear cynicism will soon overtake my soul, mind and body.  The concern on political rewards is an outstanding gesture on their part.

One wonders about the effectiveness or purpose of the board. With a proposed budget of less than $400,000, 7 board members to oversee such a small budget/operations amazed me. The communications board was just disbanded and it was responsible for a $2 million+ budget and a large operation. The sheriff adds $29,000 for animal control and he can make an appointment.  The city contributes over a million dollars to 911 and not even allowed to have a say.  No political rewards allowed.

If the city updated the ordinances to reflect current costs and fees, and if the union continued to work with the city and if we had all the people who offered to volunteer keep their promises, what type of animal control would we see?

Don’t get me wrong. I am all for more humane, effective and efficient animal control, this proposal really needs to be looked over with a fine tooth comb.

One more thing to ponder: The County just barely skimmed through a financial crisis. Their bond rating dropped from AAA to A.  If the county continues on the same spending spree as in 2009, what do you think will happen come 2010?

If we have the same people in office controlling the purse strings, and once again the county ends in the red and has no place to borrow, it will be the citizens picking up the slack in increased fees and taxes.

And even if this sounds like a marvelous idea, and Muncie animal control is less than desirable, we can’t just enter into to any agreement which will put us in the financial “dog house”.

Now is the time to start practicing fiscal responsibility. We have spent so many years working from the moment and not looking at the consequences a year or two down the road. We have paid dearly. Just look at what happened when the animal shelter became a political appointment decades ago.

Read the full article. Available for seven days on-line. (12-27-09)