Downtown Parking Ramp hammer about to drop

The Sioux Falls city council has been put on notice; contract negotiations between the city and the parking ramp developer (Legacy) is almost complete, and they are going to ask the council to approve that contract this month, but will they?

Only two councilors so far have been vocal about a NO vote, Stehly and Starr. Stehly takes issue with Legacy’s close relationship with Hultgren Construction and the lack of transparency when it comes to investors (rumor is that Legacy doesn’t have any yet) and Starr takes issue with the corporate welfare aspect, handing over $17 million to a private developer who will provide us very little in return.

Really, anyway you look at it, the deal stinks, really bad. Even on a really windy day when JM’s is in full kill, the stink isn’t as bad as this deal. So what baffles me and many others in the community, why would possibly 6 councilors be on board with this? I don’t know. As one city official said to me today, “Where is the outrage from the public?” or more importantly what do we have to do to get the outrage?

This has to be possibly the WORST deal the city has ever cut since they gave $27 million for about $2 million dollars worth of land to the Railroad, and the trains are still running through downtown. A Boondoggle that didn’t solve the original problem, train traffic downtown.

Maybe that is why this deal will probably be struck, because the citizens really don’t care. They proved this with the RR deal, the indoor pool and the administration building (at least the public took a stab at that one).

I’m hoping the other 6 councilors wake up, or at least 4 of them to make the deal veto proof. I’m not holding my breath.

Would it be in Paramedics Plus best interest to sell their Sioux Falls branch?

Paramedics Plus also runs an EMS school in Sioux Falls

I’m not sure what plans the company has, if any. But if they are looking to sell it would have little to do with the recent ‘Phantom’ ambulance fiasco.

As you know, the company as a whole is being investigated in almost every state they are in by the Feds except in South Dakota (so far). It wouldn’t be to far-fetched for them to cut their losses and get out of the Sioux Falls market before that hammer drops, if it ever does.

Let’s say they do sell, how will that affect ambulance service in Sioux Falls? Will we have to start the contract process over before the buyer can just move in?

Like I said, I have no idea if they are looking to sell, but something to ponder if it does happen.

Gov Daugaard’s JACKASS statement of the day

Screenshot; KELO-TV

Keep hating, and we will keep getting such ‘great’ publicity.

The Next Mayor of Sioux Falls will have NO choice but to be a miser

You can agree or disagree with the reasons why tax revenue is down in Sioux Falls;

Turbak says there are two main reasons the sales tax collections are down: First, because of continued growth of online sales where the City can’t collect sales taxes and because farmer spending is down.

While I agree they are TWO factors, I truly believe the number one factor is just spending in general, people have cut back. You also have to take into account that much of the city population growth last year occurred in woman’s wombs – we had a lot of new borns. They don’t work and they don’t spend money and more then likely, they are born to lower income families who get food on assistance and don’t pay for it. We can blame farmers and online sales all we want, but we also have to look at reality. If farmers are not spending money, maybe the rest of us are not either.

The next mayor is going to have to be very stingy, not only because of Mayor Play Palaces bonding spree which ties us to millions in mortgage and maintenance costs each year but because the revenue stream is low.

There are QUICK policy changes the next mayor can implement in the first 90 days;

• Cut most of the mid-managers. We pay most of the directors and sub-directors 6-figures a year, there is no reason they need managers below them doing their jobs for $70-80K a year. I would probably cut them from most of the departments saving the city millions in our 1st penny for operations.

• Focus the 2nd penny on infrastructure (mostly roads) and parks land maintenance and cut any unneeded programs for at least two-years.

• As for our enterprise funds, which support sewer and water, any new corporations coming into Sioux Falls should help share at least 50% of the cost of infrastructure costs and upgrades.

Like I said, the next mayor, whether they are socially liberal or conservative will have no choice but to be a fiscal conservative when it comes to city finances. We have to fix the last mayor racking up the parents credit card.

Why even charge anything?

Some fees don’t even make sense;

Renting the park does carry a fee, but it’s not particularly large. The tournament is charged a fee of $45 per field for the duration of a soccer tournament. There are 21 fields in Yankton Trail.

So the total rental fee is $945. The organizers also helped purchased the new soccer goals and with other park improvements, Juhnke said.

The vendors have to pay for permits, too.

The fees are marginal compared to the return in sales tax revenue and exposure the tournament brings in through thousands of visitors, Juhnke said.

Organizers expect the tournament to bring $17 million into the city.

I would agree, the $17 million dollar impact definately offsets whatever support the city provides. But in all fairness, do you think $945 even comes close to the cost to maintain and water these fields for a week? Not only that, but the overtime paid out to the SFPD and the traffic engineers to help control traffic. If I had to guess, I bet the city pays out between $20-40,000 extra to help with the tournament, then ironically lets the tournament organizers keep the parking fees. I can also bet their are some organizers that are making thousands of dollars from their efforts. It’s kind of hypocritical when you consider the mayor not wanting to give handouts to special interest groups, but I guess soccer (councilor Rex Rolfing) and tennis (Mayor Huether) are OK. No conflicts here, move along, nothing to see. Now lets worry about Stehly’s nine inch grass.

Street Talk #3: June 25, 2017 – No Mow Policy

The AL did story today about using mediation between neighbors instead of a system of anonymously turning in neighbors for the purpose of being vindictive;

City council members Michelle Erpenbach and Theresa Stehly both see potential in mediation, a process that supplements or sidesteps the courts with negotiation through a third party.

“It takes some of the pressure off of the people that are involved and it creates the opportunities to find out ‘what’s really going on here,’” said Erpenbach. “You can’t force people to be good neighbors, but hopefully we can walk down a path where we can learn to live with each other”

In Dayton, Ohio, there’s a mediation center inside city hall. Larger cities use housing court – which Erpenbach calls “glorified mediation” – as a less adversarial forum to sort disputes between landlords and tenants and deal with code violations.

Stehly thinks a more personal approach could stave off more serious issues in some cases.

“Sometimes when people get boxed in, they’re pigeonholed with their backs against the wall it doesn’t help,” said Stehly, herself a target of overgrown lawn ticketing. Judges in some states won’t set a court date without an attempt at mediation through a third party.

First off, I am a little shocked Theresa and Michelle are in agreement on something (bravo). But they both make a good point. Put our efforts in trying to get along instead of trying to tear each other down.

Now if the city can just figure out how to mow their nasty weeds;

The property across the street from Rick Larsen’s western Sioux Falls home was well kept for most of the 35 years he’s lived there.

But since the city bought the property in 2015, weeds and grass have grown unkempt around the former greenhouse at Madison Street and Harlem Avenue.

The lot has prompted calls to City Hall from neighbors wondering why it’s not being mowed and better maintained.

“Eight inches means eight inches,” Larsen said, referring to the grass length limit spelled out in city ordinance. “The city seems to be the worst slum lord of them all.”

They are a ‘Lord’ alright. Surprised the city didn’t come back and say they don’t have to mow their weeds because they are an ‘Act of God’.

UPDATE: Mayor Huether to give his 2018-2022 Capital Program Presentation on Tuesday

This of course is really just a big waste of time. Nevermind the fact that besides Mike’s VETO power, he really is just a lame duck. But it really has nothing to do with that. Sioux Falls mayors before Huether have had there capital programs squashed in their last year in office, simply because they won’t be around to see it to its fruition. Take that and the fact we could see 2-4 new city councilors come this Spring and any capital program Mike puts forward is pretty much just a very nice wish list, kind of like when your a kid and you want a new bicycle for Christmas and all you get is new underwear.

Lalley also talks today about his very dim political future;

It may also signal something greater: Maybe he’s done with politics altogether.

I realize that seems hard to believe.

Only Mayor Mike knows for sure – and maybe he doesn’t – but looking at the landscape it seems a distinct possibility.

The two-term Sioux Falls mayor can’t run for his current job again.

There just aren’t that many potential political spots out there for someone with his ambition.

Like I said recently, if Huether doesn’t announce something by the end of July, he probably won’t run for higher office and sit it out until the next mayoral election. I do think though that a guy with such a huge ego will take a shot at Governor. Guess we will have to wait and see.

UPDATE: There is also one more factor, Rob Oliver officially retiring and leaving Augie. I believe if Mike runs for Governor, Oliver will chair his campaign, or be closely involved with it. As I understand it, Oliver will not be done at Augie until July.

The obvious is staring them in the eyes

Bob Kolbe explains why some people speak at Public Input

Sioux Falls City Council Public Input, Bob Kolbe, June 20, 2017

“You know sometimes people like myself come before you and people say why do they always come forward? They always are criticizing and always pointing at things that are not necessarily the highlight of the activity of the city, county or the state. Part of it is because the good things that are done by the people on that side of the bench will take credit and publicize what they feel are the good things and the people on this side of the bench are those who are looking at things and trying to see with joint mutual concern for the city and the county, whatever, that they are trying to make it better.”

Great idea for a database I thought already existed

At first glance, I thought, WOW! What a fantastic idea and tool for our community;

A new database, OpenSiouxFalls, will become a central repository for data reflecting the metro area’s workforce, economy, social services, education and quality of life.

Like I said, great idea. But one wonders why the Chamber, the City or the Development Foundation weren’t already using such a database? Maybe they have been, but by the sounds of the development of this site, you wonder how comprehensive it is?

Beta testing for the first phase of the project is planned for this summer.

So has this information been used in the past by organizations? And if so, who was the gatekeeper? Like the affordable housing study by Thrive, one wonders if anyone has been compiling such essential information or just flying by the seat of their pants?

I applaud the efforts to make this public, let’s hope they pull it off smoothly and actually make something public that seems to have been either stored in a safe for a very long time or didn’t exist at all.