Prop 1 gets no respect among Delaware County, IN officeholders, candidates

By Rick Yencer

MUNCIE, IN - That ballot proposition to reform local government by doing away with it found little support Monday among county officeholders and candidates on the 2012 ballot.

 Only Republican Scott Alexander, one of those Good Government guys seeking a Delaware County Council seat, said he leaned toward supporting the reorganization initiative by citizens because about every other officeholder and candidate opposed it.

 "I can see how this could work," said Alexander, talking to citizens attending a candidates forum at Antioch Baptist Church in Whiteley neighborhood.

 Delaware County Council member Kevin Nemyer, a Democrat seeking re-election, offered a strong no to the proposition that take local government and make it one political subdivision. That would be done by eliminating the mayor, county commissioners and separate city and county councils and create a new super council with an elected executive that would not have the powers of a mayor.

 Nemyer was concerned the reorganization would raise taxes in rural areas and also impact public safety, given tax funding for the sheriff's office could diminish under the plan.

 Democrat Sue Errington, seeking the Indiana House District 34 seat, said she was still doing her homework and had not decided how she as vote. As a state senator, Errington supported Gov, Mitch Daniels' government reform initiatives but then waned from the administration when it privatized public assistance and then cut funding for public schools.

 Mayor Dennis Tyler, who has contributed $5,000 toward defeating the proposition, offered a compelling argument for not ending Muncie's existence. A recent reorganization initiative in Evansville found that city could lose federal entitlement money in the form of Community Development monies because income levels from suburban neighborhoods brought into that city would reduce federal funds.

 Yorktown Town Council member Steve Fields, a Republican seeking a Delaware County commissioner's seat, supported the concept of consolidation and even initiated the consolidation of Yorktown that passed by an 85-15 vote. But the town simply got rid of the township and grew its boundaries to the township.

 Fields did not support some parts of the countywide reorganization and said he would vote against it. That same no came from his opponent, James King, currently Delaware County Council president, and Daleville town marshal, besides Delaware County Commissioner President Todd Donati, and Republican opponent Sherry Riggin.

 Another key point in the reorganization is that it does not eliminate townships, towns, other taxing district like sanitation and transportation besides having an executive without veto power of the new legislature.

 Some of people at the forum also raised questions about their property tax assessments going up which also raised how much they could pay.

 Delaware County Treasurer John Dorer said trending of property assessments could have resulted in a higher property or home value despite caps put on property tax rates. And higher taxes always upsets those anti-government and Tea Party zealots that would likely support getting rid of local government as it is known.

 A jobs debate and how to get more people, especially in black neighborhoods, back to work was bolstered by candidates and Tyler indicating that state Work Keys testing and assessment be made available to all residents. Tyler promised to implement the statewide testing program available to all by December.

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