sam marshall

Another Saturday Night – Dig it!

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Property Tax helpdayThe annual Property Tax Appeal Help Day on November 17, 2012  had an extraordinary turnout.  With nearly 150 people in attendance and some with stories of increased assessment, we can’t call it a success until every property owner receives a fair assessment.  Rest assured we are working diligently to get the ear of our legislatures to address this issue.  It may be this year, or maybe not, it’s hard to say what the future holds.

alexanderAs you all may know, Scott Alexander won the County Council At-Large seat.  Scott has been attending county meetings for nearly seven years and brings to the table a wealth of information and practical experience.    With that being said, welcome Scott!

todd donatiDistrict 2 Commissioner, Todd Donati, lost his re-election bid and his last day will be December 31, 2012.  Prior to being commissioner he spent 12 years on county council.  Unfortunately, most people ignored his performance on council and elected him in 2008.   After four years of the most viral political games and outrageous spending, the people of Delaware County ousted him from office.  I heard the day after the election, many of the county employees had a smile on their faces.

christmas in september 1

The Christmas Season is upon us and it looks like the downtown area will be decked out in lights.   Muncie has come a long way since that cold winter night in 2009 when Council President, Sam Marshall, announced he was cutting the streetlight budget in half.  Yes, 50% of the lights were scheduled to be shut off.    No Christmas lights for us , bah humbug.  And just about no streetlights in 2010 either.    Yet, despite the not so bright future, Muncie was able to leave to the new administration $7,596,218.00 to take into 2012.  Nobody got a bonus and only one person in the Tyler administration got a raise, but there were new copiers purchased and some other sundry things along the way.  So, now Muncie is flush with money and the budget has been increased by $2 million.  So much for Nora Powell, finance chairperson, getting the department heads to consider fiscal prudence.  Hey, if you got it, might as well spend it.

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Muncie Indiana – What’s happening in our city?

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O.K. I’ll make this brief. Just how much has the spending or wish list amounted to so far?

April the estimated spending (based upon newspaper articles) according to the figures was $1,490,450.00. Included in that figure was the cost of Mock Station, Downtown Development, Community organizations, Roberts Hotel, etc. Well, I was off a few bucks.

Mayor Dennis Tyler released his EDIT spending and the figure came in at $1,536,507.00 a difference of $46,057. 00. The spending plan differed slightly from the earlier newspaper articles, but really, who cares?

Next on the agenda is the purchase of a fire truck at $879,647 pending approval of City Council. We purchased new trucks less than three years ago and acquired Center Township’s well-oiled and maintained fleet.

Read the rest of this entry »

Parks & Recreation, Good Old Boys and $76,000.00

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Now that the little matter of the $7.5 million dollar budget has been cleared up, it’s time to turn our attention to the recreational season. 

Yes, folks, summer is just around the corner and it will be time to get the piers out at Prairie Creek,  Tuhey Pool open and Canan Commons off the ground and ready for outdoor fun.

But, that’s not all.  Muncie City was awarded $150,000.00 in grant money to build a mountain bike trail and eventually extend the trail from  Cardinal Greenway to Prairie Creek campgrounds.   This will be interesting to watch and view the progress.  Let’s hope the weather holds out and we can get it completed in a timely manner and within cost. Read the rest of this entry »

Muncie City Council December 5th, 2011

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The day has finally come.  The day Muncie City Council will vote on the Layne Crest neighborhood.

The room was packed full of people and I wish it was packed every month.  That being said…..

Linda Gregory asked the minutes of November 1st meeting be amended to include a breakdown of Marshal’s budget cuts.

Mary Jo Barton presented Sam Marshal and Mike King each a plaque for their service on Muncie common council.

Ordinance 39-11 was first on the agenda.  This is the rezoning of what has commonly been called Layne Crest.

Mr. Sam Marshall, president said he would allow one spokesperson from each side to speak. 

The attorney for Campus Crest spoke first.  Mr. Shockley had a compelling argument.  He had drawings, studies, petitions and everything in between.  He presented for nearly 30 minutes.  When he finished, Sam Marshall changed his tune and said he would allow 15 people to speak at three minutes each for the neighborhood.

I would say approximately nine or ten people spoke.  However, there were citizens allowed to speak not in favor of the citizens of the Layne Crest edition.  In my humble opinion, Marshall should had gaveled the speakers and reminded them the purpose of the last half of the meeting.  This was the time for the citizens to represent their views.  How can a group of people who care for their neighborhood even begin to compete with an attorney experienced in presenting an argument, let alone the commercial drawings and promises of a better Muncie?

I’ll cut to the chase.  The ordinance was passed.

Voting for the ordinance:

  1. Conatser
  2. Dishman
  3. Anderson
  4. Barton
  5. Marshall

Voting against the ordinance:

  1. Polk
  2. Gregory
  3. Quirk

Voting to abstain:

  1. King

Alison Quirk read a prepared speech, which gave some an indication of how she might vote. 

Linda Gregory said she agonized over the decision, even lost sleep.  She spent time reading the ordinance, the planning commission recommendation and the zoning board’s decision. 

Mark Conatser gave his opinion why this should pass.

Jerry Dishman, who was elected to represent this area of Muncie, said not a word. 

 I didn’t stay for the rest of the meeting.  I will be surprised if Ordinance 41-11 for the approving of additional appropriations for the budget year of 2011 will be approved.  This includes the $1,000 bonus for the employees.  I believe the employees of Muncie have done an excellent job under some of the most gruelling and trying circumstance, and haven’t received a raise some in four or more years.  Some may say they are not deserving.  I may say that, myself, if I hadn’t seen the extraordinary work they produced.

Good night, Muncie.

What’s Happening in Muncie?

A Thank You – City Employees

Muncie City Council Votes for Rezoning Star Press 12-5-11

What’s happening in Muncie? ~ Local Neighborhood Organization Preparing to Fight the Battle Again!

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Muncieanna Neighborhood AssociationBrief history of the neighborhood  Layne Crest – Muncie, Indiana

On September 1st, 2011 The Delaware-Muncie Metropolitan Plan Commission voted no to the rezoning of two separate areas in Muncie.  One was located in the Village area, 300 block of Dill Street.  The second zoning was a residential neighborhood, Layne Crest.   For those not familiar with Layne Crest Addition it  covers the region located between W.  McGalliard Rd. (to the North) and Northside Middle School (to the South), and Scheumann Stadium (to the West) and Oakwood Ave. (to the East).

In attendance at the meeting was over 70 Layne Crest homeowners.  After two hours of testimony, the planning commission voted no on the rezoning.

The passing of the rezoning for Layne Crest and Dill Street would allow both areas to build apartment complexes.  In regards to Dill St., it would be a 36 unit apartment complex built in an area which is considered by most residents of Muncie to be a rental neighborhood.

Layne Crest however, is looking at a much larger complex with 216 units consisting of two or three bedrooms.  This number adds up to an influx of 584 people into an area which for all intents and purposes is a neighborhood.

Single family dwellings.

It was a unanimous NO vote by all nine members of the board on the Dill St. project.  However, when it came to Layne Crest, the vote was 3-6.  Enough for the planning commission to say NO.  Voting in favor of the rezoning, was current Muncie City Council member, Jerry Dishman, Richard McIntire and Tom Parker.

The next step was Muncie City Council for their approval.  At the city council meeting on October 3, 2011 Ordinance 39-11 was tabled after a persuasive argument was presented by the neighborhood representative, Misty King, followed by a handful of residents. Muncie City Council October 3, 2011.

The November 14th, 2011 city council meeting saw no decision on Layne Crest.  With an hour of testimony by the attorney of the developer, Scott Shockley and neighborhood association vice-president Amy Ryder and other concerned residents.  A decision could come as early as the next city council meeting on December 5th, 2011.

I have been trying to look at this rezoning objectively, and find myself left with more questions than answers.

For example voting  unanimously NO for development of rental units in an area which by all definition is a rental area.  Voting YES for the rezoning in an area which by all definition can be considered single housing residential.

A typical all-American neighborhood.

Both had presented issues like flooding, parking  and increased traffic.  Dill St. was geared more for the employees of Ball State University and IU Health.  Layne Crest is definitely a student rental development.

It seems backwards.

Normally, I am in favor of development, when development benefits the community as a whole.  However,  with the Layne Crest residents,  I fear they and the City of Muncie, will not see much benefit.  I would suggest, Muncie City Council do extensive research before voting.

The homeowners will find their property values lowered, and more importantly, their neighborhood will be increased by nearly 600 people.

Think on this for a minute

Muncie is not in any want for student housing.  The dorms at Ball State University are newly built or remodeled.  An apartment complex of this magnitude, if truly needed to meet the student housing needs, would better our community if it was built in an area which doesn’t destroy a neighborhood.

Please take a few minutes to view The Anthony-Northside Neighborhood Association.  I believe you will find a wealth of information.

Good luck, Layne Crest.

Update: Muncie During Mayor McShurley’s Administration

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A few weeks ago a blog entry titled “Not Getting Along With Anybody” I promised to expound on some of my favorite things.  Well, time has certainly flown by, so don’t believe it will be done before November 8th!

What I will offer you, is the original list of 45 things which happened during her administration updated with additional events.   Information on the Madison Street Project (#38) is at the end of this post.

I have always supported Sharon McShurley.  After doing this research and pulling together the information, I gained a new appreciation for the Administration, Department Heads and City Employees.  Folks, this is a real team of people, dedicated, hardworking and willing to move our city forward even under the most trying times.  This is my THANK YOU!  You have all been great!

Let’s keep our city moving forward, as you can see it has been progressing.  Don’t allow the naysayers to tell you different. 

1. HUD funds restored/off federal monitoring list

2. Prairie Creek self-sustaining-major improvements

3. Canan Commons

4. Tuhey Pool

5. Progressive Rail

6. Indiana Stamping

7. Brevini

8. Hamilton County officials & Mayor meet with Senator Bayh to retain 700 jobs

9. Wheel Tax spent wisely

10. Ivy Tech Downtown

11. Brought city through major budget crisis without raising taxes

12. Building Commission-self-sustaining

13. Presented before legislatures as representative of IACT (Indiana Association of Cities and Towns)

14. MAP

15. Implementation of HPG (High Performance Government paid with a grant)

16. Vetoed 67% threshold vote on Consolidation

17. Invited on economic development investment venture, paid for by private funds

18. Energy Grant –replace traffic lights, heating cooling high-efficiency unit

19. 3 year street painting (nothing done prior to 2007)

20. Blight tackled (Contracts for 39 more buildings including deconstruction awarded October 2011)

21. Governor Arts Walk

22. Muncie Police Department software upgrade, partnering with Ball State on crime mapping

23. Cable Commission active again/working to provide private funding for PAC and create an account to deposit the funds

24. Improved snow removal

25. One of three cities nationally to win “Green City Award”

26. U.S. Attorney, Joe Hogsett, toured Muncie giving “high marks” for building deconstruction program

27. White River Blvd. paved more for less

28. Paving of several streets, including Mock, 18th, 12th, Centennial, Tillotson, Bethel, Willard, Main, Jackson (list is not exhaustive)

29. Walk of Fame Heekin Park

30. Paved Tillotson Fire station parking lot

31. Restored Deputy Fire Chief position

32. Completed Muncie Parks Five Year Plan

33. Completed inventory on City of Muncie owned properties (found properties forgotten)

34. Improved City website

35. Engaging citizens in volunteerism (MAP & government)

36. Vetoed City Council’s animal control ordinance giving all city assets to a county facing severe financial problems

37. Working on design to eliminate congestion at Chadam & Clara lane vicinity

38.  Madison Street Signal light project to begin in 2012(see below for more detail)

39. Received funds to improve railroad crossings through downtown

40. Monthly meetings with citizens (Chat with the Mayor)

41. Appointing qualified and experienced department heads

42. Madison intersections 26 & 29th upgraded

43. City administration not requesting line of credit to meet budget

44. Whiteley Community Council and administration working together on neighborhood fire station (this station will receive remodeling and Buley Center a grant)

45. Gift of $30,000 from Muncie Endurathon for PCR playground equipment

46. Sidewalk on Madison and Washington replaced

47. Park improvements to McCulloch Park, parking, playground equipment and updated basketball court

48. 2011 will end with a financial reserve

49. Mayor McShurley invited to speak at Progress Rail’s open house

50. Submitted a 2012 budget which includes staffing public safety at current levels

51. Creating a Parks Program Director (possible by combining two park jobs)

52. Downtown master plan initiated (Muncie Action Plan driven)

53. Proposed bonus for employees (city employees and department heads have helped make the city run more efficiently, this will be a minimal amount from the reserve) Contrary to popular belief this was addressed last summer at a Mayor’s Chat.

54. 30 projects funded by state and federal dollars dormant prior to 2008 were organized (paperwork was sparse)

55. Benchmarked the city to measure city’s progress

56. 2009 Street Department – used mixture of beet juice and salt on ice and snow

57.  City Hall updated landscape to “Dry” landscape.  Less water and less maintenance=less expense.

58. Member of the Indiana Association of Cities and Towns, which meets monthly (see #13)

59. $150,000 grant to implement bike trails at Prairie Creek. 

Madison Street Project

The project entails improving ADA accessibility and installing new traffic signal equipment at the intersections of Madison Street that have signals from Wysor Street south to 29th Street. The upcoming construction will improve Madison’s intersections with Wysor, Washington, Adams, Charles, Kirby, Willard, Ninth, Memorial, 15th and 18th, and remove the signal at 21st street due to lack of need. (Press release 9-13-2011)

People Before Poltics ~ Part One

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Current incumbent, Alison Quirk’s new mailer. quirk flyer 2.

In her mailer it states she learned Muncie moves forward when we all work together.  She is correct.   With a city council filled to the brim with  Democrat party loyalists we haven’t seen much moving forward. (Not including Linda Gregory, as she is the only Democrat which has shown any willingness to work for the people.)

So without much ado,  here is a short list of how they moved the city forward:

  1. It took three years for modernization (2008 to 2011)
  2. A span of 18 months passed with only two budget meetings (2008-2009)
  3. Introduced LOIT (Local Option Income Tax) without addressing the budget (2009)
  4. Never met with department heads (in three years 2008-2011)
  5. Fought against Prairie Creek Reservoir becoming self-sustaining (2008)
  6. Foolishly and haphazardly cut the budget – reducing the animal control to nearly closing and leaving the city in the dark (2009)
  7. Created an illegal rainy day fund (2009)
  8. Over four years to revive the Land & Traffic committee – which hasn’t accomplished much (2011)
  9. Had the opportunity to discuss railroad crossing with Norfolk Southern, and came to the meeting unprepared to ask pertinent questions (2011)
  10. Refused to entertain the possibility of Muncie receiving $4 million dollars (2011)
  11. No incentive to update the ordinances to increase revenue (2008-2011)
  12. Crafted the 2010 budget cuts without the full finance committee’s knowledge – excluding the only Republican finance committee member in the final budget (2009)
  13. Nine months to appoint a finance committee (2011)
  14. Promised a more transparent government/empower the people – never realized (2009)
  15. Supporting an animal control plan which was fiscally unsound (2010)
  16. Paid $35,000 for a late-hour fiscal study on modernization – the plan was completed for nearly a year (2011)
  17. Voted for 67% threshold vote on modernization (2011)
  18. Only two city council members attended Muncie Action Plan meetings (2010)
  19. Asked security to remove a citizen from a public meeting (2008)
  20. Used their position to publicly slander local businesses at city council meeting (2008)
  21. Officials were invited to become involved in the Reorganization by implementing an advisory board and meeting monthly with the Reorganization Committee – City Council didn’t get involved (2008)
  22. Accused the controller of having “hidden” accounts-although the same transfer of funds was done in  prior years (2009)
  23. Quirk said city council will consider an ordinance to allow quarterly accounting of probation fees – no introduction of this ordinance nothing has been done (2009)
  24. Ordinance to amend Residential zoning. Council persons Barton and Murphy had conflicting reports (should have done their homework prior to the meeting) ordinance 54-09 (2009)
  25. Council received update on Muncie Action Plan and invited city council to attend (2010-January) Only two attended.  Later Barton said she couldn’t vote on Muncie Action Plan since  she didn’t know anything about it. (2010)
  26. Council received notification a presentation would be made Feb 9, 2010 to elected official on Muncie Action Plan’s status.  (See #25-Barton didn’t attend)
  27. Council received Notice Muncie Action Plan would be holding meetings on March 16th 2010.  (See #25, #26) Ditto at the June meeting
  28. July 2010 Muncie Action Plan comes before the council in a resolution.  Barton says she can’t vote on something she knows nothing about.  Marshall said he just got the information.  Please note from January to June 2010 meeting dates and time were announced at City Council meetings.  Neither attended. (July 2010)
  29. Barton complains she has listened to taxpayer groups for years complaining – regarding the $300,000 revenue received through Comcast franchise fees of which a Public Access TV Station should be funded (2010)
  30. Franchise fees were placed into the general fund under Canan administration circa 2006.  Marshall asked where the franchise fees go?  Controller says, again ,General Fund.  He should know this as the finance chairperson and 20 years as a city council official (2010)

Alison Quirk’s next paragraph addresses how frustrated we have been.  (See all above for the source of OUR frustration.) 

Let’s examine quickly three proposals/plans.  One would be the animal control proposal.  The second would be the modernization/consolidation plan and the third is Muncie Action Plan (MAP).

In December 2008 Jerry Dishman chides a citizen for commissioning a study on county-wide animal control    Calling it a waste of money and accusing the citizen of not “knowing what she is doing”.  Jerry Dishman voted to commission a fiscal study on consolidation.  Does he or city council know what they are doing?

I don’t believe it was proper for Vice President Alison Quirk to chide the mayor, council members or the citizens because we didn’t “review” their proposal to partner with Delaware County on animal control.   We did review it, and the proposal was bad news for the citizen and taxpayers of Muncie, Indiana.  Apparently the City Council wasn’t aware of the county’s lack of revenue or looming financial crisis.  We were and this is one of the many reasons citizens did not support their plan.  We felt it was reckless to enter into a parnership, relinquish our assets, and pay a fee and taxes to an entitiy whch was broke and lacked any successful animal control.

The Modernization Plan was in the works for three years.  City council never attended meetings, and there were plenty.  The finished consolidation plan sat for nearly a year and the cover wasn’t even cracked by the council.  City council commissioned a study for $35,000 at the final hour.  City council should have been looking at the plan and making decisions.   Vandenburgh County and Evansville took just five months and 51% threshold vote, compared to Delaware County’s three years and 67% vote threshold. 

Linda Gregory was involved from the start, Polk and Conatser voted yes.

Muncie Action Plan – A citizen based, community oriented plan for our city.  One full year of articles and meetings held all over the city at various dates and times.  From January to June 2010 notice of meetings and invitations for the city council to get involved at every council meeting.  Yet, as we saw, Mary Jo Barton could not vote for the resolution in July 2010 because she didn’t know anything about it.  Marshall, like wise knew nothing and said he wanted to meet with his constituents. One wonders what the results of his follow-up showed.  He never shared it at any subsequent city council meetings.

That’s it for the evening, friends.  I hope you will consider this information and vote informed.  Muncie can not continue with this type of governing.  Not anymore.

  • Mary Jo Barton – 16 years
  • Jerry Dishman – 4 years
  • Alison Quirk – 8 years

Had enough?

Vote Informed.

Muncie Animal Control

Why Muncie Need New Chief Financial Officers

Frustration and Politics Before People

An Example of Working Together