Muncie: Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA)

Dating back to the 1920s, the good people living in Muncie and Delaware County have granted a tax exemption to the Muncie Family YMCA so the Ball brothers could construct a fitness facility. Since that time, every chief executive officer has been hired from outside our county – “a corporate YMCA insider”. That’s one-hundred years of external management in the field of wellness who have come to lead this community.

We’ve paid for the best of the best to manage community wellness. When I say “WE,” I mean us taxpayers who have subsidized their presence in our community since they do not pay property taxes on the property they own in Muncie.

The Finances of the YMCA Deal

As we’ll see, that has been a lot of money. In economics, it’s called an “opportunity cost.” Had we chosen to allow for-profit fitness facilities to enter our Muncie market, they would have to compete amongst themselves and they would also be paying property taxes to help pay for common expenses like our park systems.

Instead, the Ball family expanded the YMCA brand in Muncie and Delaware County. Between these large nonprofit facilities, they could control wellness and fitness in our county. With the gigantic facility on the Ball State campus, Muncie residents would not get any other options due to this monopoly. Only recently has one competitor entered the market to compete.

Not just the opportunity costs are a factor. We should look at how well they have done in improving our wellness. This article will take a look at both considering the YMCA is wanting to build a new facility at Muncie Central High School. How much have they paid taxpayers for that land is under question?

I asked the Mayor on record at the Muncie Redevelopment Commission meeting Wednesday morning and he said he had no idea. Nobody on the MRC knew either. Here’s the video starting at the public comment section when they all plead amnesia. Don’t forget, the crowd at Next Muncie wanted to build the YMCA facility at Tuhey Park first.

As I’ve recently learned, Muncie Community Schools presented an MOU between MCS and the YMCA to the public, and then the board approved it. Zero dollars were exchanged for the property. MCS didn’t require payment, and YMCA didn’t offer payment. This happened in October’s School Board meeting so the Mayor was lying as my question was asked in December’s MRC meeting. See video below:

Delaware County Wellness Indicators

Well, according to a 2021 Gallup’s Wellbeing index, Indiana is ranked 41st out of 50 states. That’s not very good. You would think with all the top-rated health care companies in the state, we’d be in the top ten.

Well, how about Muncie? We rank 13th out of 15 metro areas in Indiana. Ouch!

We are a bottom dweller for wellness. What about all the wellness initiatives in our community? What about the high-priced YMCA memberships and their impact? Why aren’t we achieving the best wellness numbers in our state for the investment we are making. The Mayor bragged about the YMCA, but why?

Let’s not forget we also have the leading health facility in the state – IU Health/Ball Memorial Hospital? Last I checked, local taxpayers, subsidized the hospital as well since they don’t pay property taxes for public expenses like fire department expenses and paving roads.

Don’t we also have the ever-expanding wellness company in Delaware County, Meridian Health Center? Yep, it’s another nonprofit so we have huge opportunity costs there as well. I’ll venture more into the wellness arena to cover these two behemoths in their own respective articles.

While you have expanded services in Delaware County, you’re not making an impact on wellness. Profits have grown, but what about residents’ wellness?

So, while we have some of the greatest trail assets in the state, our wellness is at the bottom of the state. When you consider the YMCA memberships are over $50 a month, that’s not really producing the results we need.

Add to these facts that Ball State students get a state-of-the-art fitness center, subsidized by local taxpayers via our state taxes that go toward public education, and the kids getting to stay on campus and not support local fitness facilities, we are losing substantial dollars. Why aren’t those economic professionals at Ball State studying these issues? It’s called a conflict of interests which is all about ethics.

Lost Tax Revenues (Opportunity Costs)

We checked with our local assessor several years ago who told us the buildings in Muncie would yield $250,000 in property taxes, yet they are tax exempt. I asked James Carmichael, our current assessor for assistance. He said I could go to Beacon and figure this out using the 3% rate for commercial property. I’ve been living on that website.

I wonder why our local newspaper hasn’t investigated this?

Anyway, the assessed values for both the Northwest YMCA and Downtown YMCA came to a grand total of just over $3.0 million ($1.6 million for the Downtown property and $1.4 million).

That would reap over $91 thousand in property taxes. In just the two decades, had we been charging the YMCA property taxes, it would have yielded $1.8 million that could have been invested in our park systems. Can you imagine what our park systems would look like today had we not been subsidizing the YMCA and made them pay their fair share in taxes?

Form 990 Tax Returns

As promised, this story has been updated with financial information. Chad Zaucha, CEO of the YMCA, sent me the 2019 Form 990 Tax Returns.

Anyway, what you’ll see jumping off the first page is a wellness company losing significant monies. It’s literally hemorrhaging losses and using its trust fund set up by the Ball family to keep the doors open. According to Form 990, they lost ($487K) in 2018 and another ($1.2 million) in 2019. I asked for 2020’s Form 990 because that is a significant negative trend. No wonder they were in such a hurry to move.

2019 Form 990s

Looking closing at the number, the CEO made an annual salary of $161 thousand in 2019, while the YMCA made total revenues of $6.4 million. The most glaring item in payments was an ($865) thousand loss on property sold. We’ll have to get a breakdown of what they sold at such a significant loss.

Another number that jumps off the pages is a $419 thousand expense for Occupancy Expense. If they owned all their property, you’d expect to see Depreciation, which I did, but not high occupancy expense. We’ll need further clarification of that expense. Sometimes entities can pay massive occupancy expenses to owners and non-arms-length real estate owners to extract money from the company. I know the YMCA has a location in Yorktown, but we thought it was rent-free. I’ll do more digging.

If this were a private wellness facility, it would probably be filing for bankruptcy. But, instead, they have an immense trust from the Ball family totaling $1.1 million, and required another $400 thousand in donations from the oligarchy in one year.

My hunch is they want to sell the Northwest and Downtown facilities to recoup losses to offset future operating losses.

Since the City taxpayers have been subsidizing these nonprofit wellness facilities for the Ball family, you’d think every single taxpayer would be offered free memberships to utilize the facilities. However, that is not the case – the only ones getting free access are Muncie Community School officials, according to the approved MOU.

2019-990

2020 Form 990s

As for 2020, the financial picture of the Muncie Family is bleak. Revenues further declined from $6.4 million to $5.0 million even though the CEO’s salary increased from $161 to $181 thousand. The further deterioration in revenues caused the YMCA to take out an unsecured loan of $904 thousand to meet payroll and other operating expenses.

Occupancy expense is still astronomical at $336 thousand which I will question the CEO about. The facility is hemorrhaging cash and relying on a line of credit to meet operating expenses. This entity is an ongoing concern even once they consolidate but they still have a sizable endowment which allows them to remain a nonprofit facility avoiding tax payments to the local community like a private fitness facility would pay. It seems like the community has to suffer in order to protect the Ball family’s investment in a poorly run fitness facility.

Here is the 2020 Form 990 for your review:

2020-990

YMCA’s Project at Muncie Central

According to the Muncie Journal, which is used by the Chamber of Commerce and others as a propaganda sheet with the help of WLBC Radio, the Ball Family gave the YMCA of Muncie: $1,500,000 to support the construction of a new facility on Muncie Central High School’s campus. Their efforts to force their way onto Tuhey Park property failed. 

Since Ball State stole the Muncie Community School system from the taxpayers, they were granted permission to build there.

The question is, “How much is the YMCA selling their two facilities in Muncie to pay the school system?” I asked the Mayor to answer that question on 12/16/2021 in an MRC meeting and he shrugged his shoulders. He said he had no idea even though he is a “member” of Jud Fisher’s Next Muncie group and shared the update with the MRC board.

The Mayor went on to brag about the fact they were building at Muncie Central and was “hoping” the City of Muncie would give the City of Muncie “access to the Downtown property.” He didn’t say a word about the property in NW Muncie.

Yesterday, 12/21, a source sent me a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Jim Williams at Ball State University and Chad Zaucha from the YMCA. It is attached below. As you can see from the MOU:

It is anticipated that MCS will make the MCHS Y Facility Site available on an “as is” basis without cost to the Muncie Y.

Furthermore, “In conjunction with the construction of the Y Facility and in furtherance of the parties’ collaborative efforts, MCS and Muncie Y will enter into an agreement that shall address terms and conditions for programmatic collaboration and the parties’ rights to share use of their respective spaces (the “Collaboration Agreement”). For example, and not by limitation, the collaboration agreement shall provide terms which cover shared use spaces, special membership programs for MCS students and staff, and any joint marketing initiatives.”

Final-Draft-MCS-and-Muncie-Y-MOU-9.21.21

Therefore, Jim Williams, an employee of Ball State University who orchestrated the thievery of Muncie Community School Systems property from local taxpayers by Republican state officials, is granting free property for the Muncie Family YMCA to construct their building as long as they have access to it. Lastly, there is no mention of a long-term leasing agreement so local taxpayers can recoup their investments.

It sure is nice to play with taxpayers’ property and money. Jim Williams is definitely NOT at an arm’s length with this bend-over backward deal for Jud Fisher and the Ball family aristocrats controlling the Republican Party, the YMCA, and now the Muncie Community School System. Snap of the finger and all the sycophants align themselves.

Yes, the MOU was presented in October’s school board meeting and voted on by the board members chosen by Ball State to serve. No conflict of interest was presented to the public or acknowledged by the board since there is the issue that the major donor of both related entities is Jud Fisher at the Ball Brothers Foundation. It also means that Mayor Dan Ridenour was lying in the December MRC meeting. He was very much aware the Muncie YMCA was paying nothing for the property at Muncie Central High School.

I went to the January 11th Muncie School Board Meeting and was treated rudely for asking about this conflict of interest. Jim Williams exclaimed that lawyers had said there were no conflicts on the table which is hard to imagine. I’ve asked the Communications Director for the alleged document to see why the lawyers dismissed this as a not being conflictual in nature.

Summary and Conclusion

Who runs Muncie, Indiana? Why is our Mayor acting like a “carrier pigeon” when making these announcements? It’s like he works for someone else. He’s just a runner. We thought we elected a mayor and city council to run government affairs but what I’m discovering is Next Muncie or Jud Fisher runs Muncie and the Mayor carries messages to the community via video announcements.

The local media institutions are a fraud and tried to foist the YMCA onto taxpayers by giving away land at Tuhey Park. The Riverside-Normal City Neighborhood Association stopped it, so now the YMCA is seeking another path of least resistance which is a non-arms length Muncie Community School district property stolen from local taxpayers.

The role of a journalist is one of an adversary to the government. We are the Fourth Estate or Fourth Branch of government. Our job is to confront the government with questions that make them uncomfortable. It’s not activism – it’s the power of the free press supporting the people.

What you see from our local press institutions is propaganda. It’s yellow journalism:

Yellow journalism and yellow press are American terms for journalism and associated newspapers that present little or no legitimate, well-researched news while instead using eye-catching headlines for increased sales. Techniques may include exaggerations of news events, scandal-mongering, or sensationalism. By extension, the term yellow journalism is used today as a pejorative to decry any journalism that treats news in an unprofessional or unethical fashion

These yellow journalistic entities and propaganda outfits then cry about how their model is failing or drying up because of social media.

No, it’s drying up because they gave away their power. We’ll see why and to whom a little later as all the FOIA requests I’ve sent out are returned. Right now, the fixers at Defur Vorans are struggling with being ruled against by Luke Britt, our Public Access Counselor.

Once again, I’ll update this story as we go along, so bookmark this page for reference.

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Todd Smekens

Journalist, consultant, publisher, and servant-leader with a passion for truth-seeking. Enjoy motorcycling, meditation, and spending quality time with my daughter and rescue hound. Spiritually-centered first and foremost. Lived in multiple states within the USA and frequent traveler to the mountains.
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