City of Muncie 'chisels' at overdrawn accounts

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MUNCIE, Ind.– The City of Muncie is making progress on their overdrawn government account but the city still has 16 in the red.

“Every department has decreased their deficit at this point. So we’ve got improvement across the board,” said Muncie City Controller Trent Conway.

The City of Muncie is making great progress three weeks later, but the work isn’t finished yet. They started the year 2020 with 18 accounts overspent by $3.3 million. Now, 16 accounts remain overdrawn by $2.8 million.

“A lot of these funds are reimbursement funds. You have to spend the money then request reimbursement for it,” said Conway.

Which is why it’s normal for some accounts to be negative.

“In the previous administration, they just overspent it. It was told to us the state board of accounts said we had to pay that back,” said Mayor of Muncie Dan Ridenour (R).

Two accounts recently restored the mayor’s edit fund and the Muncie Police Department. The difference with the edit fund is it’s an economic development tax that is not eligible for reimbursement. New money deposits every month into the account.

So with the previous administration, there was increased spending. Now Conway and Ridenour, are now going backward reeling and restoring city hall from Tyler’s administration.

“Going back five years that’s going to take time to go through every transaction see what was done, what might have been missed for reimbursement,” said Conway.

Some paperwork was not filed for reimbursements since 2014 now trying to play catch up.

“There have been cases where we’ve contacted the vendor and we’ve said we cannot find your invoice on this can you please resubmit it with all the attachments,” said Ridenour.

He goes on to say the biggest hurdle is the local road and streets account overdrawn by more than a million dollars.

“We have a large chunk we have between 400-500 thousand that still has not been submitting that we’ve been putting together from previous months,” said Ridenour.

In order to keep this from happening again, there are new ordinances, plans, and protocols in place for city employees to follow. It includes appointing new people, increasing communications and a spending ordinance to stop a check if there are no appropriations.

In the past, checks were written without checking if the money was there eventually sending them into overdraft for some accounts. But, now Conway and Ridenour have created a system that follows the state statute no appropriations, no payments

“In those circumstances, we would have to submit an ordinance or a resolution to the council to either transfer money or add appropriations,” said Conway.

It’s up to Conway and Ridenour to determine if items are needed or wanted that way they can cut additional spending.

It’s a slow and steady process that Ridenour and his administration say they are committed to correcting.

“The sad thing is it takes us away from doing the work of 2020. We’re doing the work of 2018, 2017 or 2019. But we’re happy to do it in order top make it right,” said Ridenour.

He also wants to assure the poeple of Muncie, that things won’t change overnight. But he hopes the new procedures are ones the city can follow for decades.

“What the citizens of Muncie and the public needs to understand is that it’s not going to be the same. And we are going to take whatever efforts we need to make sure the city is run in an efficient way and in a way that managed the citizen’s tax money and provides services,” said Ridenour.

The mayor has come up with a 10-step plan so they can continue to chisel these negative accounts and create a new norm in the city of Muncie.

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