Click for the full report: Muncie SBOA 12-18 yr 2017 The audit report covers the city’s SAFER Grant as well as the Muncie Economic Redevelopment.
‘Morning to the good people of the city. Now that the pesky Lowering Our Income Tax has been approved by the Mayor of Muncie and the Muncie City Council in a record 14 days, it’s time to move on to what we may expect in the next four years.
Yes, the Mayor of Muncie, after spending nearly four years telling the unsuspecting public the city was financially stable and there would be no additional taxes, has passed a 43% income tax. Mayor Tyler said even without the SAFER grant, the city still had the money to fund the Muncie Fire Department. However, on September 1st, 2015, the paper reported Mayor Tyler was going to propose the Local Option Income Tax. 14 days later it was approved by Muncie City Council. That’s speedy.
Mayor Tyler’s excuse to remove $8 million dollars from your wallet was none other then “Property Tax Caps”. Yet, the Mayor has been instrumental in indebting us to the tune of nearly $65 million, increasing the budget yearly, spending more than it takes in and increasing the city tax levy until almost every property in Muncie has reached that cap.
Be honest, does that sound like the financial problems stem from the tax caps or from a government that enjoys spending money? I suppose if the tax caps were a legitimate concern, instead of a worn out excuse, the Mayor and the City Council would have been more aware of their financial limitations. It never even crossed their minds.
City Council crafted a budget in 2012, again in 2013, another budget in 2014 and recently 2015. Despite having every financial document in their possession, no one noticed the “Tax Caps” problem? None of them noticed negative balances? None of them saw the revenue decreases?
Maybe the problem isn’t the tax caps at all. Instead, it’s a convenient excuse which sits on the financial shelf collecting dust until it’s needed.
The next four years is when the rubber meets the road. I am pretty sure, the city has tapped all the available tax sources. Any additional property taxes generated from TIF district will go to pay the bond payments. The hope is all the building and the new hotel will generate a ton of convention center traffic. We’ll be finding people who want to buy the properties which have sat vacant for years, businesses looking to relocate will gravitate to Muncie.
The truth is, there is no wiggle room left.
Well, we still have fees. There is no cap on fees. Mayor Tyler asked EMS to increase their ambulance fees $100 and the additional revenue given to the city. That was a no go. The animal shelter recently began charging a fee for animals surrendered. How about raising the Prairie Creek dock fees, increasing camping rates, daily fishing passes? Will Heekin Park see an increase in cabin rental, or entrance fees and food prices raised at Tuhey Pool?
If the Village Apartments get sold, will this void the 10-year tax abatement with a new owner? How about the $10,000 in unpaid property taxes for a new business, will that be paid back to the city if it never opens? Can we start holding track meets at the old Wilson school? The city owns the track now and perhaps we could rent it out.
Or maybe we can take a page out of the previous budget cutting the council employed. We could shut down the animal shelter, turn off 1/2 of the city street lights, fire 12 people, reduce police fuel, remove Tuhey Pool utilities from the budget, and as a very last resort, take away the mayor’s copier. We couldn’t afford the copier or Channel 60 in 2011, we may just need to do without in 2016.
When Mayor Tyler announced his re-election bid, he was quoted “I will never lie to you.”
$$Five Million Greenbacks and Some Change$$
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.
Mayor McShurley has applied for the SAFER grant. For those of you not familiar with this grant, it is Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Responses. The grant is sponsored by FEMA.
If approved, the grant will allow 25 of the 32 laid off firefighters to return to work. The money will pay salaries and benefits for two years. After the performance period ends there is no requirement to retain the personnel.
The two stations closed last year will remain shuttered.
The mayor has been aware of the grant, but for the most part did not commit to applying. For good reason. The city had just gone through some of the toughest budget crunches it has seen. Although, Muncie has never been a stranger to budget shortfalls, this one was particularly brutal. Past budget crunches have always ended with an increase in taxes and in some years it also included 4% raises. This year the people said no to new taxes. (LOIT)
As part of the bargain, the union has dropped the minimum staffing requirement from their contract. Basically, minimum staffing would include as an example, 30 firefighters on duty in any given shift. If the shift drops to 29, then a firefighter will be called in to work and be paid overtime.
Center Township Trustee, Kay walker, has agreed to dismantle the township fire department and pay the city $250,000 in 2011 and $400,000 beginning in 2012. Combining both the union concessions and Center Township the city hopes to save $750,000 over two years and $700,000 per year after the first two years.
In 2008 Center Township had estimated the budget to be $850,000; the paper reports Center’s budget is $775,000.
Union president, Mike Whited was quoted in the newspaper saying many of the laid off workers have already found other employment and he is unsure how many will be returning.
None of this will happen, of course, if the grant is not awarded. It may be early spring before we know.
When the grant was first introduced, the mayor took heat because she was concerned about the upfront costs and hesitated in applying. Since the questions have been resolved that is no longer an issue.
Just today I read comments from residents and one person is already gearing up for the next political attack against the mayor. He or she has begun to blame the mayor because she waited to long to submit the grant. Apparently, he or she feels this will have some bearing on the outcome.
The deadline for submitting the grant was January 15th, 2010-5:00 PM Eastern time. It makes no difference if the application was submitted three weeks ago, or five minutes before the deadline. In fact, there is absolutely nothing in the grant specifications which say as much.
So, if the grant application is denied, look for those who will blame it on late filing, when there was no late filing at all.
The article is available on-line for seven day.