Ball State University Needs To Pay Taxes

At Minimum A Large PILOT Fee

When I was driving through campus last week, it was tranquil due to Christmas Break. It allowed me to notice how well the properties were maintained, and I admired all the new buildings. It made me curious about how much was spent in the past year, so I checked out their website and eventually read their 2021 Financial Statement provided below.

According to Ball State’s financial statement, they spent over $70 million in capital assets. Not too shabby!

The problem is the one-time ‘public university’ that got its money from taxpayers isn’t the same beast it was decades ago when the Ball family turned it over to the State of Indiana. According to their audited financial statements, only 30% of revenues come from the state, with 32% from students.

Yet, what’s interesting is the Governor of Indiana gets to appoint 100% of the board while only contributing less than one-third of its revenue. I’d say it’s way overdue for the state or federal government to alter the definition of a public university.

Control and Finances

If the students are being charged for a more significant percentage of the operating revenues than the state, it’s a for-profit institution that relies on students’ income via tuition. Now, we could go in-depth here, but not willing to make an effort just yet. Instead, there should be a transitory phase while the state turns over part of the control to students through board input. Also, what about the local economy? In this case, Muncie and Delaware County, Indiana?

The deal that has been cut behind the scenes with the political parties shows that workers at Ball State are paying for government services. Yet, do they have any input in the guidance of the university? None.

Also, Ball State pays nothing to the Fire Department to cover its $480+ million in properties and growing as they gobble up property after property via Limited Liability Corporations (LLCs).

It would appear, the political parties – both the Democratic and Republican Party have agreed that workers should pay for the police and fire through a County Option Income Tax (COIT) and a Local Option Income Tax (LOIT). Politicians did this since many workers commute to Ball State and IU Health/BMH. It’s called a workaround, with the obstacle being the oligarchy that doesn’t want to pay taxes.

But what about workers who own real estate in Muncie/Delaware County? Are they being asked to pay more than once for the same services while Ball State gets a pass? Yes

Should those taxpayers be given an exemption from paying one of the taxes? Yes

Are you beginning to see the picture?

Gentrification on Local Residents

Not only is Ball State building new buildings in Muncie, but they also keep increasing tuition for the kids attending. That kind of sounds like a for-profit business model, doesn’t it?

What about all the on-campus restaurants competing with restaurants in the Village and elsewhere? Do the kids get to use their dorm kids for local discounts? Does Ball State collaborate with local restaurants or compete with them? What about dorms and living requirements? Why didn’t Ball State build Worthen Arena Downtown near the Convention Center? Can you imagine what the Downtown would look like now? How many restaurants could cater to the crowds attending events at Worthen? Can you imagine if Ball State built the football stadium Downtown or on the Southside of Muncie?

Do you think landlords and commercial rental properties raise rents every year to students? What does that do to local real estate values?

Yes, it increases the real estate value, so what does that mean for those who live around campus but don’t rent or can’t pass the increases in property taxes along to students? What about seniors on a fixed income? Property tax caps didn’t save us from increasing property values.

So, as Ball State builds more and increases tuition and landlords follow suit with students, guess who pays more in property taxes?

The problem is Muncie property owners cannot pass along these higher taxes as landlords can. Of course, you can always sell your home and move away from campus, but isn’t that a form of forced gentrification?

In Summary

I’m not going to go too far in-depth right now, but I wanted to give residents/taxpayers/voters an idea of what is happening with Ball State University and how it negatively impacts them. Many people want to brag about all the great things Ball State does for our community but let’s not fall victim to deluded thinking. Also, Ball State has many propaganda outfits in Muncie that tell us how great they are many times over. Well, we all know about repeating lies over and over again…

As a journalist, we must look at things critically and not accept what our media enterprises are spouting, or else we fall victim to magical thinking. We need to ask questions and then explore the vast pages of knowledge for answers. This is the essence of critical thinking. It’s also the essence of a thriving society – a democratic society. It’s also the essence of a free society. We all claim to be free in the USA, but are we? How many of us live in an illusion or fantasy world?

Our elected officials need to represent the people who vote for them. They need to take the fight to the power players and those in the statehouse. Remember how easily the state removed the school district from Muncie?

I’m sure they could work the same magic for us citizens who live among this beast in our backyard who pays no taxes to help us maintain our quality of life. Maybe if they paid property taxes we could have spruced up Muncie so their professors would want to live here instead of Greenfield, Carmel, and Fishers.

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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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