MUNCIE, Ind. -- Multiple lawsuits have been filed against Muncie’s Sanitary District since 2016. Which includes corruption-related charges resulting in the arrest and indictment of two employees even the former mayor.
City leader’s concerns not only stem from recent federal cases but a new lawsuit filed against the sanitary district by the city. However, Muncie’s new mayor, Dan Ridenour says what he asking for shouldn't be a problem since it's the law and it was done under the previous administration.
"We've continued to have discussions and they continued to refuse and said they weren't going to do it,” said Ridenour.
Ridenour recently filed a lawsuit asking one of the three Muncie Sanitary District board members to step down. All three have refused. That includes the former city engineer Michael Cline who is on the sanitary district board.
"I think it's disappointing for the city residents, that they have a board that's part of this city that doesn't want to follow what state statute says,” said Ridenour.
Indiana state law requires that the current city engineer must be on the board. That would be Brian Stephens- Hotopp, who was recently appointed by Ridenour.
Ridenour says he is doing all this because of the ongoing investigation by the FBI and Internal Revenue Service on corruption-related charges involving the sanitary district.
"I have major concerns. Clearly, the administration and I’m not talking the board. The administration of the sanitary district two of their top people have been indicted and that is a major concern of mine."
He's referring to former district administrator Nicole Grigsby and former superintendent Tracy Barton. Both are facing face federal corruption charges including conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
“That's one of the reasons I wanted to make sure we did everything in our power to get some additional new eyes on the board,” said Ridenour.
Last summer when agents arrested Grigsby the FBI said, Investigating public officials who exploit their official position for personal gain and erode the public’s confidence in government is one of the FBI’s top criminal priorities and is the sole purpose of the Indiana public corruption task force.”
Meanwhile, Ridenour says if they can get new blood on the board that will benefit the residents of Muncie.
"There's no doubt in my mind by changing the board you change the leadership. and, therefore, you help improve the city and how it operates and how it operates honestly and how it operates for the benefit of the citizens,” said Ridenour.
For those two sanitary district employees who were arrested and indicted in the last two years, they're still awaiting trial. Tracy Barton is expected to appear in court on April 13. Nicole Grigsby is expected to appear on June 8.
The Muncie Sanitary District issued this response to the mayor's lawsuit:
“The board welcomes an additional member and wishes the mayor would handle the issue with more professionalism and less politics.”