MUNCIE — Despite arguments that the city has many other problems to be addressed first, Muncie City Council approved a $4.5-million backup loan for the Madjax makers hub.
Sweetening the deal for some proponents in Monday evening's council meeting was the suggestion that the center for artists and craftspeople could also help retrain the city's workers for industrial jobs. That job training element, introduced at city council's August meeting, brought endorsements not only from some in the crowd but some council members.
And it brought puzzlement from some in the crowd. Jane McDowell, a Muncie resident, agreed that vocational training was important but noted that Madjax, when it was opened in 2015, was supposed to be for artists and makers.
"Somehow that changed," McDowell said, adding, "I don't know when it became what it is. That (job training) seems like it would be under the aegis of Ivy Tech."
After more than 90 minutes of criticism and testimonials, the Madjax ordinance passed, with six Democratic Party council members who are usually in agreement with Mayor Dennis Tyler voting yes, independent Democrat Linda Gregory joining Republican Dan Ridenour in voting no and Republican Brad Polk absent.
Under the provisions of the ordinance, the city would use property tax revenue to back up the $4.5-million loan only if revenue to Madjax and its owner, Sustainable Muncie, failed and if two other sources of tax revenue, local economic development income tax (EDIT) and tax increment financing (TIF), failed.