Wheel tax

Muncie’s Financial Reports

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Knowledge will forever govern ignorance; and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives. James Madison

Please take a look at Muncie’s financials.

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DEBT

These two reports ran in January 2016 and February 2016.    The latest report shows a debt increase of $10 million.

Muncie debt 2-26-16

January 2016 debt

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REVENUE

Muncie revenue received for the years 2011 to 2015.  The revenue sources includes property taxes, federal taxes, state taxes, local taxes, fees, donations and grants.

2015 $96,344,555.40

2014 $101,147,218.97

2013 $100,696,634.05

2012 $124,112,776.60

2011 $90,393,089.58

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Detailed Receipts 2011 to 2015

If you would like to look at the revenue streams the reports below give details.  As you can see, property taxes have been on a decline since 2011.  This should have been the first clue.

Muncie Detailed Receipts 2015

Muncie Detailed Receipts 2014

Muncie Detailed Receipts 2013

Muncie Detailed Receipts 2012

Muncie Detailed Recepts 2011

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SUMMARY

When revenue begins to decrease while debt increases it would be wise to consider the cost of debt and what it means.  The first cost was public services which could only be fully funded with a tax increase.  The second cost is economic development and it will only partially be funded with the recent tax increase.

You do need to consider the cost. If the debt can not be met, and there are no more taxes to increase what then? Fees?  Fines?  You don’t need to be in the dark when it comes to Local and State government finances any longer.  In fact, it is imperative, for our future, to be well informed.

James Madison was a wise man giving wise advice which is still relevant today.

Source: State of Indiana Transparency Portal

 

 

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Elections & Paving…this is a quickie

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As some of you know, we just finished our 2015 Municipal primary.  I know, I know, there was an election and no one came.  We saw a turnout of 8%.   It’s no surprise to any of us.  The ballot filled with Democrats and no contenders.  Except for the At-Large seats.

Speaking of the At-Large seat, six contenders for the three available seats.  Nora Powell drug out her maiden name again for this election.  She hasn’t used the Evans name since she got married.  As soon as she ran for office, pulled it out and presto! She’s first on the ballot as Nora Evans Powell.

Another candidate named Philip Gonzales showed up as #2.  He didn’t campaign, avoided the press and not even a free Facebook presence.  He’s what can commonly be called a ringer or a ghost candidate.  It’s very simple, really.  Placed on the ballot with the intent to steal votes..  A party that was filled to the brim with their best of their best.  They just can’t keep their paws out of manipulating the elections.

Phil received 439 votes or slightly less that 5%.  Next in line on the ballot was Linda Gregory coming in third place.  The hopes of Democrat Headquarters to unseat Linda by placing Phillip as #2 didn’t pan out.  Still, it’s a little unnerving to think over four hundred voters gave the false candidate a vote.  This has been going on since the beginning of time.  You would think it would sink in.

The paper reported Todd Donati is bonding out another $1 million.  As soon as the information is updated, will post the amortization schedule.

The local newspaper is full of good news.  $600,000 will be used to pave a busy street.  No one should be in disagreement on paving roads.  The street was in the works for a complete makeover to include sidewalks, a bike and walking path, street lights.  A few years ago the City of Muncie painted the decorative globes making evening lighting impossible.  So they tried again and now we have different colored streetlight globes with a hint of the Christmas colors all year long.

I doubt the City has the money for the makeover considering it is borrowing from the Muncie Redevelopment Commission.  In effect, we are borrowing from ourselves and paying interest for the privilege of borrowing from ourselves.

Will leave you with this excerpt from the Muncie Star newspaper:

The MRC’s approval of $600,000 to fund the contract meant that wheel tax proceeds and other funds usually spent on street paving could be used elsewhere.

Let’s hope the “using elsewhere” means using Wheel Tax, Street & Road taxes for their intended use.  Paving.

Saturday ramblings: How to manage a hotel

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But we need to acknowledge the extent to which we’re banking, literally, on the success of the development now that the city of Muncie is the primary financial investor in the project — to the tune of $30 million. Larry Riley –  Muncie goes all-in on hotel Star Press

Riley’s column took me off guard because there was no warning. Certainly borrowing $30 million is newsworthy. Yet, the paper didn’t report on Muncie City Council’s vote. With the additional borrowing, the grand total of debt accrued since June 2013 has reached $55 million.  I’m sure there is more, good luck in researching it, though.

An on-line commenter said it shouldn’t have been a shock. He had presented over the summer to City Council regarding the bond. I went to the City of Muncie’s website to review city council’s minutes. Unfortunately, the last minutes posted – June 2014.  Muncie Redevelopment Commission minutes most current is 2010, too.

He went on to post the financing was a done deal, just taking longer than expected.   And if the financing didn’t go through, the City of Muncie would own the hotel property. Initially we were told the private financing was a done deal. Ground was broken and no mention of the financing problems, no mention city would be the sole financer. How can we be assured of something proving to be unstable financing? We simply can’t. Read the rest of this entry »

Do you know what time it is? It’s Wheel Tax Time!

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At the county council meeting on Tuesday, April 23, 2013, the wheel tax again came up for introduction   The three year sunset clause is expected to expire in December, and the county must have the wheel tax approved and shipped off to the State of Indiana by July 1st.    As can be expected, it is getting a wave of comments, ideas and criticism.

Do we need it?  Probably.  Do we feel we are getting our money’s worth?  Nope.  Is there any transparency as promised in 2009?  Hardly.  It’s as murky as a swamp.   The big discussion is the sunset clause.  The tax may have passed unanimously had this been in the ordnance up for adoption.   It was removed.  After all, even a smidgen of transparency is better than none

Council person Mike Jones posted on the local newspaper:

Frankly I’m not inherently opposed to a sunset clause, but feel it does nothing to enhance or detract from County Councils ability to implement or rescind the tax at any point in time. The requirement both on the city and county remain to submit paving plans are intact in the ordinance by April 1st of each year. If at anytime the Council determines that the Highway Garage is not performing as it should or other monies become available, the wheel tax can be rescinded at any time. “

Wheel tax still controversial April 24, 2013 Muncie Star Press

If it doesn’t add or detract, than what’s the problem?  Include it and move on.  The people want it. Read the rest of this entry »

Saturday ramblings – 1%; Silence is golden and the LLL Club

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The snow is white, the sky is pale blue and the air is crisp.  Despite the return of the head cold, life is pretty good.  Saturdays are sleep in, casual cleaning and cinnamon French Toast with real maple syrup.   Sipping a cup of yummy Free Trade java, don’t know about you, it’s the simple things I find so rewarding.  This is a long Saturday rambling. Read the rest of this entry »

Money ~ It doesn’t grow on trees, or does it?

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Money – It doesn’t grow on trees.

As a teenager, my Mother would often say “Money.  It doesn’t grow on trees.”  I would roll my eyes and let her know in no uncertain terms that I knew money didn’t grow on trees.  I didn’t sleep through Biology, ya know.  At least not every class…

I would marvel at her refusal to get me the new Stingray bike with the banana seat.  “You have a perfectly good bike and money doesn’t grow on trees.”    There she goes again.  It was a great bike at 10, but now I’m 13 and EVERYBODY has a Stingray bike with a banana seat.  Their parents didn’t say “money doesn’t grow on trees.”  Of course, not everyone had a Stingray and I’m sure my Mom and Dad knew it.  So, I did what any thinking teenager would do, I got a job.  First it was babysitting, then on to the doughnut shop and then pay-dirt!  I got a job as a cashier/stocker at the local dime store.  No, I never bought the Stingray, though.  It was to expensive.

Money.  It doesn’t grow on trees, you know. Read the rest of this entry »

~ Keep Calm and Carry On ~

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keep calm and carry on
For historical trivia on the slogan, please click the picture

The Muncie 2011 Mayoral election has come and gone. Many people have expressed concern about the direction our city may take in the next four years.    The British government, in 1939, produced a series of posters designed to motivate the people and alleviate feelings of anxiety. 

Muncie citizens, take heart.  Your property taxes will not be raised to meet any shortfall like the 11% increase we saw in 2006.  With property tax caps firmly placed in the Indiana constitution your homestead will not rise above 1% of assessed evaluation – with a maximum of 3% on other properties.  This is a bit of insurance for property owners.

Included in the HB1478 signed in 2007 is the ability to tax the working residents a certain percentage.  This is  known as Local Option Income Tax (LOIT).  This tax if imposed, will encompass all of Delaware County.  It was first introduced in 2009, by Muncie Council President Alison Quirk, which won another four-year term.   The outcry was simply the Muncie Common Council had not considered any other options before introducing LOIT at the highest rate available.  Adding to it, among other reasons,  unemployment and foreclosures were at a record high. 

 I believe it is obscene to tax an economically down people because government couldn’t control their spending, and made no attempt to do so. We may want to keep an eye on this one should it be brought back up.

One other area which isn’t far from our minds, is the concern the city may be spent into debt.  If you have been following the county, you will understand the county had a decent financial cushion going into 2009.  At the end of that year, the county was struggling to find $10.5 million dollars. 

It only took 12 months to go into debt. 

The ramifications have yet to be fully realized.  Just a little pin prick with the county building closed one day per week.  For  those needing to use the county building services, it probably affects them more.  The human factor saw 25 people laid-off.

The city on the other hand, will feel more than a pin prick if we go from black to red in a matter of months.  Some things take longer before the pain is realized.  Like the two-year audit of the Community Development Office.  Often we find the sins of the past rears its ugly head years after the actual event took place.

With a voter turnout of 29% our fate for the next four years has been decided.

It’s time-consuming, sometimes frustrating to follow local government.  Fortunately for me, I have a wealth of information available in the form of video, documentation, resources and people.  Living in the city you almost always have to do double duty…city and county both. 

Kudos to those which keep a diligent eye on the National level.  That must be very intense.

I followed the McShurley administration closely, and I hope you all gleaned a bit of information and insight into our local government scene.  God willing and the creek don’t rise, I hope to continue in this same vein.  That being said, here is a short list of things to expect in 2012.

  1. Coming up in 2012 are two projects which have already been earmarked.  I will go into more detail as the year-end gets closer.
  2. Department head appointments.  How departments are run and their effectiveness depends on the ability and experience of those appointed to the positions. 
  3. We still have close to six weeks before the new administration begins, Muncie expects to have a $3 million dollar balance (approximately) to carry into 2012.
  4. SAFER grant ends.
  5. Decrease in EDIT funds from the State of Indiana.
  6. Opening of Mock Fire Station.