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Muncie Mayor’s Proposed Budget: Streets, Sidewalks, Parks, And A Cushion For COVID Losses

By Stephanie Wiechmann, IPR News | Published on in Economy, Government, Local News
Muncie Mayor Dan Ridenour presents his budget proposal. (Photo: Stephanie Wiechmann)

Muncie’s mayor has presented his first city budget.  As IPR’s Stephanie Wiechmann reports, the Republican says he is correcting overspending by previous administrations and planning for coronavirus-related funding shortfalls.

 

Muncie Mayor Dan Ridenour has proposed a total budget of about $51 million.  It’s a smaller total than previous city budgets.  And, as Ridenour says, it’s balanced.

“That leaves us $4,581 positive in total spending.  So, if the [city] council wants to spend more in one area, they’ve got to spend less somewhere else.”

One of Ridenour’s campaign promises was to present a budget.  He says he hopes it makes it an easier process for the city council members not to have to start from scratch.

The proposal puts more than $300,000 more into the Rainy Day Fund than previous budgets.  Ridenour says Muncie is planning for 2022, when he says the city will see less in income taxes because of current pandemic-related unemployment.  The mayor wants to weather the coming storm with a goal in mind.

“My main objective is I do not want any full-time employees to lose their jobs in any department.”

 

Budget Priorities By The Numbers

  • General Fund – $24,965,416  ($680,622 less than 2019)
  • Rainy Day Fund contribution – $839,178 (nearly a 60 percent increase)
  • Streets – $2.49 million for paving and repair
  • Parks – $2.37 million (more than 16 percent increase)
  • Sidewalks – $1 million

 

For city streets, Ridenour says he’s taking politics out of what gets paved.  His administration has made a 6-year plan using an independent study from 2017 listing each street’s condition on a 10-point scale.

“And it ranks them from 10, which is the best, to zero, which is ‘This is ridiculous – needs to be replaced immediately.’  And we’re starting with the worst streets.  And then the next year, we’re doing the next worst streets and the next worst streets.”

The city will also make sidewalk improvements and put down new sidewalks in asphalt rather than concrete, to get more miles for the money.

For parks, an administration priority, a $2.4 million expenditure will improve parks like Cooley, Halteman, and Riverview.  Ridenour also says two city parks each year will receive new playground equipment.

The budget includes funding for deputy mayor and deputy controller positions.  The city hasn’t had a deputy mayor in several administrations and one of Ridenour’s campaign promises was to fund the position again.

The city council now takes up the budget proposal at its September 14 meeting.  Ridenour says he expects the council will tweak some figures as members consider it.