Lots of things have been happening in good old Muncie, Indiana. Some have been not so good and some has been very good. Not so good for our local administration very good for the people of Muncie.
Let’s begin with Halteman Village.
Halteman Village is where the Mayor of Muncie as well as two City Council members live. It has been near and dear to Mayor Tyler, so much he donated $10,000 to fix Halteman Pool. $10,000 city tax dollars, that is. Oh, it was to pay for swim lessons, except the privately-owned pool permanently closed a few days later. We have a nice public pool, it’s called Tuhey Pool. It was quite a battle to get Tuhey Pool up and running. Questioning the Mayor why Tuhey Pool wasn’t used for the swim lessons “I don’t remember” he replied.
Halteman’s pool and clubhouse went up for tax sale and somehow the city acquired the property. The city has been maintaining it and spokesperson for the city, Sarah Beach, said the city didn’t want to see the neighborhood run down. Hmmm. Not sure where it’s at today.
Muncie Community Schools closed Mitchell School (in Halteman Village) and put it up for sale. It became quite complex because the city, as well as Ball State University, submitted offers. The city was higher and the university pulled back. The City of Muncie with the Muncie Redevelopment Commission wanted to demolish the school and build condos. As you can imagine, that didn’t please the residents of Halteman or city taxpayer who financed a remodel of the school about a decade past.
Next, we found the city had commissioned a housing study, citing the need for new housing to draw people to Muncie. Muncie Redevelopment director, Todd Donati, posted on his Facebook page “all the facts were in” and all the facts were based on this one study. Michael Hicks the director of the Center for Business and Economic Research at Ball State University examined the city’s housing study. The Muncie Star Press reported the City’s Study was based on incorrect data.
The city is no longer interested in building condominiums on the Mitchell School land. Todd Donati in charge of Muncie’s economic development was cited several times in State Board of Accounts audits for years 2014-15. Donati used a study calling it “facts” to push millions into the condo building project. Fortunately, for the stakeholders of Muncie, his plan fell through. Something else will come down the pike, count on it. He’s more than willing to spend money on pie in the sky ideas.
Besides the ongoing FBI investigation, the Bracken, and Stewart lawsuits against the City of Muncie we have one pressing issue that is still on the table and at anytime Mayor Tyler can direct his City Council to proceed. And the City Council Democrat majority will proceed simply because they have never denied Mayor Tyler or their political party anything.
Delaware County EMS is hanging in the balance.
You see, Mayor Tyler wants to start his very own EMS claiming it will bring revenue into the city. No, it won’t. This administration has gone over budget at Prairie Creek Reservoir, nearly $100,000 over budget for Tuhey Pool, increased the city’s tax levy every year and passed a 43% income tax in 14 days back in 2015. And just look at Halteman Village as proof they have no idea how to be fiscally responsible. Really, you could list other items of senseless spending and budgeting of this administration.
City Council member Alison Quirk and city attorney Megan Quirk have used the wear and tear of firetrucks when they go on a first responder call as leverage for city-run EMS. For six years the trucks have been used to run errands, go out to eat and grocery shopping and not a bit of concern was shown on “wear and tear” until the city wanted an EMS of their very own.
Not to mention the council’s attempt to schedule a City Council meeting on New Years Day. Oh, on the advice of the city council’s attorney, which just happened to find a 40-year-old city code requiring all council meetings to be held on the first Monday of the month. I’m sure the council was hoping for a low turnout on a holiday.
Wrong again. Guaranteed the message was broadcast on every form of social media and the meeting would have been a packed house. Proving once again, the only people in favor of city-run EMS would be the Mayor, the Fire Chief, and the six Democrat Headquarters’ council members and anyone who was concerned about losing their city positions, party support or city contracts.
Make no mistake, the Mayor has been able to systematically remove anyone who hinders his personal and political agenda. And without a doubt, DCEMS is caught in the sights of a political agenda and the collateral damage will be the people of Muncie and Delaware County.
Self-serving are they.
Director of the Muncie Redevelopment Commission speaks to the issue of Mitchell School.
There is a lot of misinformation and confusion going around that needs to be addressed. We are going to invite all the entities involved with the misinformation and either clear this all up and determine if the MRC will continue with the projects in play. The MRC had always shown interest in some of the properties that the MCS had to offer, including Mitchell, Storer, Sutton and land on Cornbread Rd.
The MRC had been contacted by a demolition company out of Richmond, IN that wanted to demo the schools for salvage. The MRC could not really do anything with the properties with buildings in place. The demolition company said they really did not want the land. So the demolition company offered the land to the MRC, for free, once they removed the buildings. The MRC board agreed to this only after we contacted BSU and asked them if they were interested in any of the properties. They had the right to buy them all.
The MRC was told that they did not have any interest in any of the properties but Northside MS. You have seen the recorded document waiving their right to buy. So the MRC board agreed to donate $658,600 to the MCS if they were to accept the $125,000 offer from the demo company. This would garner the MCS much needed revenue, this would allow the MCS to achieve their objective, illuminate the liability of taking care of these abandoned buildings and help generate at least $20- $50 million in taxable revenue on these combined properties.
The MRC board did not close these schools. The MRC board, nor the City of Muncie administration did not create the financial crisis within the MCS. The MRC board was only trying to create opportunities for the community we support. It seems that there are comments out there that we, the MRC and the City of Muncie asked BSU to give these schools up when in fact, BSU really wanted them. We have no interest in doing that. The MRC board would like to ask BSU if in fact they do want these schools.
The MRC board does not want to get involved with any form of miscommunication, especially with our community partners. And, we feel that BSU is a very valuable and important community partner. If BSU wants these schools, our board is prepared to take action. However, it needs to be BSU that openly states that this is what they want…not hearsay comments from unauthorized citizens.
There were no lies made or personal gains made from anyone in this group. I appreciate the hard work and dedicated members of the Muncie Redevelopment Commission. They volunteer their time to make our community better.
Disclaimer: The only changes made to this public post is breaking the comment into paragraphs for easier reading. Nothing else has been altered.
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.
With the City-Run EMS on everyone’s mind, Madjax has been put on the back burner. Here is the full court document and you will be appalled at what has come to light. Plenty of reading to do, folks. Lots of question to ask this administration and Muncie City Council members.
ENTRY OF JUDGMENT
THEREFORE, it is ORDERED, ADJUDGED and DECREED that
A. The Defendants acted in excess of statutory jurisdiction, authority or
limitations and without observance of procedure required by law and the
Court hereby GRANTS judgment in favor of Thomas Bracken, sets aside
Defendants actions to enter into the Lease, and thereby declares the
Lease NULL and VOID;
B. The Council’s decision to approve Resolution 26-17 was unsupported by
substantial evidence and the Court hereby GRANTS judgment in favor of
Thomas Bracken, sets aside the Council’s actions relating to Resolution
26-17, and thereby declares Resolution 26-17 NULL and VOID.
C. The Council’s decisions to approve Ordinance 33-17 and Resolution 26-17
were arbitrary and capricious and unsupported by substantial evidence
and the Court hereby GRANTS judgment in favor of Thomas Bracken,
sets aside the Council’s actions relating to Ordinance 33-17 and
Resolution 26-17, and thereby declares Ordinance 33-17 and Resolution
26-17 NULL and VOID.
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…
Mayor Tyler and the City of Muncie is in the news again. This time it’s over the city’s refusal to release attorney fees. Freedom of Information request was denied. City’s spokesperson, Sarah Beach, on behalf of the city, claimed it was “privileged” information. The state’s public access counsellor disagreed.
Four days later after the letter was released in the paper, and not without public criticism, Mayor Tyler held a one-minute press conference. That’s all the time needed to discredit the letter. The city’s feeble attempt at damage control. Again.
You know the letter Beach submitted to the newspaper was approved by both the city attorney and Mayor Tyler. Now Dennis Tyler is saying it was inaccurate.
Tyler said Friday that the city “has always and will always be transparent to its citizens.”
So, let’s look at the transparent government.
In 2012 the City’s building commissioner re-opened his business and immediately received city contracts. It wasn’t until Walls & Ceilings was fined by OSHA the public became aware. (It was rumoured Nichols was doing work.)
The city’s Neighborhood Investment Committee (NIC) program birthed in 2015. For this program, the city buys and sells properties to revitalize neighbourhoods. Some of you may remember East Central Reinvestment Corporation (ECRC) funded with federal dollars.
East Central Reinvestment Corp., a pioneering local CHDO founded in 1986, went under after defaulting on mortgage payments on 13 houses in 2008. ECRC spent more than $3 million to improve more than 80 properties before HUD cut off funding to it in 2006 after an investigation of conflicts of interest and other complaints. Muncie to prop up housing rehabbers with HUD 4-1-2011
What’s happening with the NIC program?
Last week we learned Delaware County gave the city 215 properties and not one has been put back on the tax rolls. Where is the transparency? Does anyone know the status of these properties? Nope.
Or the status of the Village? Or the transparency of the Muncie Redevelopment Commission? Did we know city money was filtering into the building commissioner’s wallet? Did we know Mayor Tyler was preparing to pass a 43% income tax? The press conference on Nichols’ arrest, was Mayor Tyler transparent?
Or that Tyler and Donati were board members of Sustainable Muncie? (Both said they resigned and Beach went on to say Tyler’s involvement was as a “figurehead” only). Of course. At the final hour, Tyler said there would be a job training program. Transparency.
The night he won a second term, he declared to followers “I will never lie to you.” Cheers. Every time the city gets caught they blamed it on someone else. The increased tax levy in ’12. McShurley’s fault. Traffic lights not synced, blight program delayed, no paving grant? The State’s fault.
Do you ever wonder why the former MRC president resigned right after Donati lost the election? Perfect timing. Or how about bid specifications written specifically for the companies the city favours? The building on Walnut, Wilson School, VAT. Was the Mayor transparent or distressed when MSD purchased the building for $300,000 based on an inflated appraisal? Did Mayor Tyler or Todd Donati give any indication the city was buying the Rutter Building? Or how much rental revenue? Do we know?
Woe to those who increase their wealth on the backs of the people they were elected to serve. The readers may not agree with this statement, but they are to be pitied. Lacking integrity, greedy, and they will not enjoy the fruits of their labour. It’s tainted fruit. It has soured in their bellies. But then again, if one is void of honesty, integrity, empathy and virtue they will think they are the victims of unjust circumstances.
Publicity is justly commended as a remedy for social and industrial diseases. Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman. The most important political office is that of the private citizen. Louis Brandeis