TIF

Tick, tick, tick…the sound of a clock

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The ticking sound you hear is the clock ticking down to July 6th, 2009.  The day we all will see the 1.25% income tax levied on the last of our hard-earned dollars.  LOIT will go down in history as one of the worse things to happen to an already struggling community.

Woe to those who place burdens on the people, grevious to  bear, and never lifting a finger to ease it from their shoulders.

They stand before us with outstretched hands, pleading “We need more”. Yet they avoid their taxes, taint government agencies with corruption, use funds other then for its intended purposes, and continue these practices and others regardless of public or printed opinion. 

Beautiful on the outside, beguiling us with their power to save us.  On the inside they are full of dead man’s bones.

Who will speak on the people’s behalf?  More important, who will listen?

Oh, yea…Deborah King-Eichholz has been updated in the pages section of the blog.

If You Drive A Car, I’ll Tax Your Streets, ‘Cause I’m The Taxman

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O.K. folks, here’s the down and dirties on the Wheel Tax.  It passed. 

I know, you are in shock.

Most of us will pay $25.00, light trailers and motorcycles less.  Heavy vehicles, buses, recreational vehicles taxed at $40.00.

How did the county council come up with these rates?  Let’s ask the county lawyer.  Attorney Amanda Dunnuck said she looked at surrounding counties that had a wheel tax.  Finally, decided on the Madison County rates, since their county mirrored our county.    Madison county is at the top of the scale when it comes to the tire fee a/k/a wheel tax.  We can’t let anybody steal our place at #1 for taxation…still, we will be satisfied to share first place with our neighbor,  Madison County. (At least on this one.)

We can revisit the tax in 2013, amended from 2015. 

President Todd Donati believes this tax will generate 2.9 million dollars, based on the amount of registered vehicles in 2008.  This is only an approximate figure, could be more, could be less.

So, here is the breakdown on the wheel tax.  Delaware county has 850 miles of road.  100 miles will be paved based on the estimated 2.9 million bucks.  Don’t expect your potholes to be fixed any time soon, that is not going to happen.  Joe Russell (he has an engineering background) said we can pave 40 miles for $1,000,000.  He stated unless the drainage problems get addressed, paving will not make a bit of difference in the long run.

What our elected commissioners have to say:

  • 100% will go to paving/maintenance
  • The public will receive periodic paving updates
  • Everything will be functional in a year
  • Confident the county will be able to pave
  • Will only contract out if highway dept. gets behind (exception: loaders will need to be outsourced, county does not have the vehicles to bring the materials in)
  • Ask the highway dept. to come up with an “extreme maintenance program”
  • Donati will not ask for any additional employees
  • Donati guarantees we will see a difference in our roads

President Donati says his intent is to make the process effective and consolidate.  Not sure what he plans on consolidating.  He also stated he does not unconsolidate, and he is sick and tired of those who say otherwise.  He can put the rumor to rest the consolidation of the highway and engineering departments (done by the previous commissioners) is still intact, by continuing to show the savings of $500,000.

Many people spoke in favor of the wheel tax, and many others brought valid concerns, questions and statements.

One citizen asked if we were being creative with our spending?  He mentioned the Morrison TIF funds and why was it being used for a round-a-bout when the road needed paving?  He mentioned the decrease in revenue, yet when the taxes were flowing in, the roads were still in bad shape.  He has a point there, folks.  No matter how much tax base we had, can anybody honestly say our roads have ever been in great shape?  Yep, this tax will change all that.  (Tongue in cheek comment.)  He wondered why the 8 million dollars sitting in the Morrison TIF could not be used.  ‘Cause, as some pointed out, the fund no longer has an 8 million dollar balance.

Another spoke on the $800,000 sitting in the highway account.  What about that money?  Money sure can get shuffled around in the county.

The fact is, people can not trust the elected officials to handle our money properly.  The officials understand this and go out of their way to assure us everything will be fine, citing laws and codes designed to protect the interest of the people.  I fail to find any real comfort in these laws.  Afterall, we have seen public access laws broken and not even a slap on the wrist.  The only real consequence the officials face is no re-election to office.  Hardly a real threat…they know voters have a short memory.  I feel optimistic the voters will remember since Muncie City Council will more than likely enact LOIT (1.25%) in July. Two new taxes within weeks of each other!

The county really doesn’t have a plan on spending the money.  We have a paving list, no plan.  Neither do the cities.  Get the money and plan later.

On other county business:

Chris Matchett, president of council, sent letters to the department heads asking for 24% reduction in their budget.  Don Dunnuck said if the department heads can’t find the saving, the council will find it for them.  He stated can’t preserve the status quo, no chice but to cut 24%.  All commissioners are 100% in favor.

Little is know about the 24% budget cut request…hopefully, we will hear more on it in the near future.  The dog tax was tabled again.

My thoughts.  Muncie has 10% unemployment rate, over 50% of our children are on free or reduced lunch, foreclosures and tax sales among the highest in the state.  The medium income of the residents is $25,000/year and the Democrats who have claimed to be for the people, have no problem adding a tax burden on those who are struggling as it is.  No compassion, no thought on how this can affect low and moderate incomes.  All for 100 miles of paving.

Muncie Sportscomplex and other spending ideas-Updated 8-16-09

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Update: A link to the financials is at the end of this blog entry.  Thanks to the person who supplied the informative website! (The link is temperamental – sometimes available, sometimes not. Check back if you have problems. Sorry about the inconvenience, it is beyond my control.)
About 12 years ago, give or take, the Muncie Sportscomplex(Sports & Hobby) incurred a debt of $800,000 in a bond to build the complex. In August 2008, Mr. Mansfield approached the city council asking for a new bond of $1,000.000. Promising to retire the previous debt of $500,000 at a lower rate and use the remaining money to expand the Sportscomplex (Sports & Hobby).

The expansion was to include relocting and reconstruction of the baseball and soccer fields and build additional baseball diamonds. We also expected to see a 1800 sq. foot building housing a concessions stand and bathrooms. Mr. Mansfield alluded to the possibility of a hotel being built on the east side near the complex. The taxpayers would not be responsible for any bond payments because it is all funded by the inn-keeper’s tax.  Mr. Mansfield said about $450,000/year is generated through the innkeeper’s tax.  Sounds good. Keep reading.

That night, city council voted to issue a bond for $1,000.000 for 20 years to finance the expansion.  Mr. Mansfield stated that the fields and a new parking lot had a goal of completion in Spring 2009.  Can’t tell you if that goal was met.  I assume it was, but was told something different today.

Mr. Mansfield was adamant that no taxpayer’s money would fund the extension.  Yet in today’s newspaper we were told the county commissioners approved a transfer $5,000 for the new complex expansion.  The money came from economic development which is funded through tax dollars.  So, in essence, we will be paying for it after all.

Some questions that I have not got answered…

  1. Is this really a self-sustaining entity, or will taxpayers, already strapped, pick up the tab?
  2. How was the money spent, and did they under-estimate the cost and run short of money from the bond?
  3. Why is the county funding something we were promised wouldn’t be a burden on taxpayers?

You guess is good as mine.  Adding insult to injury, there will be no Summer Heat this year.  One wonders why the biggest contributor has pulled out.  The Visitor’s Bureau usually ends up paying approximately $100,000 towards this event.  I wonder if they had this money already budgeted and set aside, why the county felt it so important to give money when there are other things looming.  Like the millions of dollars we expect to see in budget shortages.

The money doesn’t seem to be a problem, they sure are spending like they have it all.  Well, we did have 8 million dollars in the Morrison TIF, so I guess we are rich.

Something to ponder and just slightly off topic, with the looming lay-off of the firefighter expected on Saturday, one wonders why this sportscomplex gets a free pass.  It is just this type of government that helps foster the lay-offs.  If only we had spent and planned wisely we would not be here today.  We could have weathered the recession.  Two words.  Mis Management.  (tee hee)

Y’all have a nice evening, ya hear?

Financial for Muncie Sports and Hobby

Check out the PDF tax statements, too!

New Guest Writer

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Somebody else has weighed in on the benefits of paying TIF bonds off. Great analogy and I hope to hear more from him in the future. He is a former Muncie resident who has been following the recent happenings in our fair city and county. Just received the email.

Take a gander in the pages section and see “Is Muncie Financing its Next Cheeseburger?”

Check back for more from him and our favorites Deborah King-Eichholz and Jim Arnold. I have been busy, but promise you something will be arriving soon. Of course, Deborah’s will need some editing. 🙂

Morrison TIF (formerly: Delaware County Redevelopment Commission Meeting)

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30 days ago, the Morrison TIF had $8.256 million of cash reserves and $3.17 million in outstanding bond debt. The debt could have been retired years ago, saving the taxpayers millions of dollars. The debt could be retired today saving nearly $1 million. Instead, the debt remains outstanding and most recently $1.1 million has been transferred to the Muncie Redevelopment Commission to buy Muncie Fire Department equipment and now $1.5 million is being considered to be allocated to buy street lighting and a windmill at Park One/332. The objective of which is to obligate a yet to be announced business to locate a facility in Park One creating 105 jobs at an average wage of about $45,000.00 per year. While we have absolutely no issue with economic development and job creation in this area as we all know we desperately need businesses and jobs, our position is that the debt needs to take precedence while the funds are available. Furthermore, it would appear that the Park One/332 TIF should shoulder the burden of this effort, as they will be the primary beneficiary, and if there is a debt to be carried, it should be borne by the taxpayers of that district, not the taxpayers of the Morrison TIF which includes the taxpayers of Muncie.

Please share this alert with all your interested contacts…..

CDCPTR

3 Special Meetings on 6-2-09

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Muncie/Delaware Economic Development Alliance asked the Delaware County Redevelopment Commission, The Planning Commission and the Delaware County commissioners in 3 separate meetings to take 1.5 million dollars from the Morrison TIF fund to purchases solar light and wind turbine. In return for this purchase, a company, yet unknown (this is not unusual) will expand its business to Delaware County. There is a promise of 105 jobs at $45,000 per year. There will be a public hearing on this, and more information will be forthcoming.

I don’t have a problem with this, none whatsoever, based on what I heard this afternoon. Something that is bothersome is where was the public notice? By law, there has to be a 48 hour notice published so the public can be made aware of the meeting. Two notices were published outside to door to the Commissioner’s Court Room 309 in the County Building.  To my knowledge the Redevelopment Commission was not posted.

An explanation was given that this happened so fast because the unknown company wanted to move quickly.

How many secret meeting will be kept from the public before somebody wakes up and says…”What the heck is going on?”

Second, how fast will our TIF funds be spent at this rate? Why haven’t the bonds been paid off. We are losing at least a million dollars in interest alone. Mr. Donati was asked this question, and he was a little vague, but did say he was working on this and there would be money left. A citizen commented “The week’s not over yet”.

Somebody is getting me the actual amount of money the Morrison TIF had at the beginning of the year. I think it is in the ballpark of 6 million before the firetruck purchase and the earmarked fund for lights and turbine. It will probably be around 3.5 million left. This is an estimate only-so don’t take it to the bank.

Check the Star Press tomorrow for more information. If you are interested in how this money is being spent and more on the unknown company, keep your eyes peeled for the public hearing. 

If you would have liked to attended the meeting but knew nothing about it (not to many people did), contact your elected officials and ask if they can supply when and where the meetings were announced.

These men are on the commissions and also hold public office.

Larry Bledsoe, County Commissioner
Brad Bookout, County Council
Jerry Dishman, City Council
Todd Donati, President County Commissioner

It’s getting late…good night Delaware County, sleep tight….