Editor of the AL shows how little he knows about city government

I wear a helmet to protect my brain from FACTS.

The interview Lalley conducted with Councilman Staggers today was laughable at best. I suggest that Lalley schools himself on all things city government before he conducts any more interviews with city officials.

Here’s a few highlights from the ‘Morning Conversation’

- Staggers defends public input in the regular council meetings after Lalley suggests we have ‘special meetings’ for big topics. Staggers points out why this is a bad idea because public input needs to take place at the time of the vote. And if that takes 3 hours, so be it. I also asked Staggers in the comments section, if he thinks the city council violated city ordinance by limiting public input time. He walked a pretty fine line when he answered the question, he didn’t go as far to say that they did, but he did defend public testimony and said that it should not be limited in the future. Lalley seemed to think different topics needed different amounts of time, then he goes into some weird rant about limiting public input because it had to do with Theresa Stehly. WTH does that have to do with anything?

- While we are on snowgates, Staggers was talking about city debt and bonding for special interests after a commenter asked about bonding. Staggers was quick to point out how the city needs to spend more money on capital projects, like snowgates, instead of special interest and recreational projects, because snowgates would benefit most residents in Sioux Falls. Of course, Lalley couldn’t resist to refute Staggers with some really bad math. First he said that it wouldn’t help most residents because only 5% of the total population of SF owns homes with driveways in Sioux Falls. Staggers kind of laughed at such a notion, and Lalley says, “I will email it to you!” Staggers was quick to point out that you don’t need to be a homeowner to benefit from snowgates, because it would clean out driveways of businesses and apartment buildings as well as clear intersections. But Lalley just couldn’t drop it and said it wasn’t about snow removal it was about SHOVELING.

- And just when Lalley couldn’t look any more ignorant, he blames the $400 million dollar debt MOSTLY on the Events Center. Not to defend that pointless project, but that is only about 25% of our debt, Lewis & Clark also racked up $70 million (for a pipeline we did not need) So where did the other $100-200 million come from? As Staggers points out, all of these special interest projects. Lalley then mutters something about sewer pipes. Hey Pat, if you were paying attention at all when the city raised our water rates you will find that those repairs come from rates and enterprise funds now.

I have a suggestion for Lalley if he is going to do a daily media program. Stick to asking questions and leave the editorializing to your boss. You just look stupid when you say stupid things.

27 comments ↓

#1 Lamb Chislic on 02.07.13 at 1:43 pm

Speaking of snowgates, any word on what’s been learned from this season’s test … since we’ve had just one barely-plowable snow so far?

#2 Winston on 02.07.13 at 2:32 pm

5%? Are we a “Soviet Society?” Perhaps 5 x 4 or 5 is the truth of the impact of snow gates upon our citizenry, Mr. Lalley.

What percent of our citizenry can afford to attend events at the Washington Pavilion on a regard basis, Mr. Lalley?

5%?

#3 NPO on 02.07.13 at 5:01 pm

Lalley-pop should stick to riding his bike and write about biking issues or he could come shovel my driveway and blog about that. Oohh, I’m sure it’d be entertaining!!

#4 l3wis on 02.07.13 at 8:56 pm

According to Pat, shoveling is minion work. I think it is funny all the effort he puts into riding his bike and marathoning, but he doesn’t even scoop his own driveway. Weird.

#5 GregN on 02.08.13 at 12:47 am

For the record I was the one who asked about bonding a pool and mentioned the debt. And the interview was rather embarrassing. Lalley usually comes off pretty ignorant of city politics. Might want to cross the street occasionally and watch a meeting occasionally. And his somewhat obsessive trashing of snow gates continues. For the record, event center debt is 115 million (so a lot but only about 1/4th of total debt – so excusing debt burden on one thing is not accurate) – city debt is 400+ million (435 million authorized) – the difference has been legally authorized by a council but hasn’t been taken out or wasn’t taken out. Major items:
Event center 115+ mill
Levy/Flood control/41st street bridge 50 mill
Parks/Libraries/Swimming pools 40 million
Lewis and Clark 70 million
Other water/sewer 140 million
Various/other 30-40 million

Note the vast majority of debt issuance was 2007 and after. There’s a pretty unmistakable upward curve. I’m not sure how this trend can continue too much longer. Some of this comes off the books (pays off) in the next handful of years, but most is 10, 20 or 30 years out and most of the big boys are 20+ years. Even if you aren’t as hardcore about debt as I am, don’t you think it might not be a good idea to leave yourself a little more cushion in case something big happens (flood, surprise sewer problem, etc)? Anyway the idea that the event center was some anomaly and isn’t indicative of a culture of overspending is just not accurate, its part of a bigger picture of aggressive spending on wants not needs.

#6 GregN on 02.08.13 at 12:54 am

Its also important to note that for some of the above you might say hey, water/sewer that’s not a want – its a need. But consider in some cases we chose to bond a sewer project (like the Sioux River sewer interceptor – phase 2) in the last budget a few months back (12 million) completely, instead of paying some/all out of available funds/budget – which was instead used to donate to private hockey and tennis courts, etc. Sort of like me buying a Jet Ski with my savings/cash flow when I know my roof is leaking and getting a loan to pay for the roof replacement.

#7 scott on 02.08.13 at 6:26 am

The Argus will eventually meet the same fate as Tempest.

#8 Detroit Lewis on 02.08.13 at 9:42 am

Funny, Pat used to work for them to.

#9 Detroit Lewis on 02.08.13 at 9:45 am

Greg – Totally agree, we should not be bonding for NEEDED infrastructure upgrades. Commisioner Hunking was very specific about the use of the 2nd penny, and it wasn’t for paying off entertainment facility bonds.

#10 Poly43 on 02.08.13 at 12:45 pm

Just listened to this Argus attempted smear job of Kermit. What amazes me the most is GregN CLEARLY stated the city debt to be more 400 million in his text to Cory Meyer. Yet Cory….in all of his full brilliance translates it to Lollipop as 40 million. Then they both rattle on about the 40 million dollar figure????

BTW does anyone know where the next listening and indoctrination session is? Does the Argus tell us when and where? Or the city website?

#11 Poly43 on 02.08.13 at 12:56 pm

Just posted today on the city website. BTW…what a cluster that site has become.

Mayor Mike Huether’s Listening and Learning Session for the public will be held at the Sunnycrest Retirement Village, 3900 South Terry Avenue, on Tuesday, February 12, 2013, from 2 to 3 p.m.

Mayor Mike Huether will provide a brief update on City projects and answer questions regarding any City topic.
Mayor Huether’s Listening and Learning Sessions are held once a month at various locations throughout the city. If you would like to host one of these sessions, please contact Julie Wilson at 367-8827 or email her at jwilson@siouxfalls.org.

#12 Poly43 on 02.08.13 at 4:33 pm

For the record, event center debt is 115 million (so a lot but only about 1/4th of total debt – so excusing debt burden on one thing is not accurate) – city debt is 400+ million (435 million authorized) – the difference has been legally authorized by a council but hasn’t been taken out or wasn’t taken out. Major items:

Event center 115+ mill
Levy/Flood control/41st street bridge 50 mill
Parks/Libraries/Swimming pools 40 million
Lewis and Clark 70 million
Other water/sewer 140 million
Various/other 30-40 million

~GregN

This is what I really like about South DaCola. A place where I can go where Ombudsmen like Scott keep us informed of city happenings. I’ve spent a good part of this day listening to previous listening and learning sessions. To listen to the mayor we are flush with piggy bank money just itching for a black hole to flush it down. I know I’ve read it all before. The talk of second penny here…CIP there, and I know it is all just an elaborate shell game the mayor is shoveling down our throats. GregN, could you, or Scott or anyone else again explain to me the real deal. I know we are not flush with piggy-bank money like the good subprime mayor would lead us to believe. I guess I need another primer on just exactly what our financial picture is. The good mayor says one thing…that I do not trust. How do our finances really stack up? I know I could go back and look at other topics that have gone through this very well right here on this website. But a refresher would be appreciated. Afterall, I’m just a country boy that wants more RELIABLE info than the propaganda the good mayor puts out.

#13 GregN on 02.08.13 at 5:21 pm

At informationals approximately once a month Tracy Turbak finance director makes a presentation on city finances. You can also find buried in yearly budget and/or CIP documents the current debt situation. Gene Rowenhorst when he did them had it in a nifty separate item I think near the top of the old budgets. They are a bit harder to find now, but they are buried in an appendix at least usually.
There’s the operating budget – first penny and other funds, capital improvement budget (2nd penny) and the 3rd penny (entertainment tax). Its supposed to be 1st penny to do operations, pay salaries etc. 2nd penny for ‘infrastructure’ or capital improvements, so build a library or replace a sewer pipe. Third penny is dedicated to entertainment venues like money for pavillion, arena operations, etc. There is an old post where Scott put up a nice graphic of the debt curve from way back around Mayor Hanson to today. The city debt is just over 400 million. The statutory debt ceiling is state law imposed and its right now like 540 million or something. I’d have to look back, its function I think of population x something else so it can move. Should be noted there are multiple ‘ceilings’. For certain critical items its even higher, then its higher/even unlimited for a few super critical things. Even if we don’t hit a ceiling I guess the point is all this debt service are payments that typically are taken out of the second penny, so if we have to pay 9 million to the event center bonds per year (P+I), and the 2nd penny capital budget is say 45 million (about right), then what we’re saying is you’ve committed 20% of your capital fund to pay off the EC. That means something like a library or fire station that might be 3-5 mill might have to wait, or a sewer replacement might have to be deferred or bonded too. Also don’t forget it was more typical to use the second penny for capital improvements of water/sewer, now they raise the water rates (user fees) to fund those, which frees up that money for event centers. So the idea that you get an event center but your taxes didn’t go up – nice try – not quite. I think that’s happening in various areas, you crank up user fees to pay for capital improvements, thus freeing up money for wants. So while your sales tax didn’t get raised, they do it with some sleight of hand with other things they can raise.

They rounded off the second penny a few years back for arterials we just had to have for city growth outward. The deal was developers would pay all these platting fees as I recall and pay quite a bit too. Now they find they have plenty of money in the public works funds and don’t need as much. Did they repeal the .08% they had to have for arterials? Nope, its now being used for other things.

Go to this:
http://docs.siouxfalls.org/sirepub/cache/2/q2qgvs45elxhpu45zu5vyxa2/25590402082013051845874.PDF

Page 16 for the various bond issues and debt. A little out of date but last public one I think.

#14 Poly43 on 02.09.13 at 9:52 am

Thanks Greg

#15 Poly43 on 02.09.13 at 10:47 am

Found it. Thanks again guys.

http://www.southdacola.com/blog/2012/09/the-exploding-debt-of-the-city-of-sioux-falls-2/

This is where the Argus REALLY falls short. They could, if they had the balls, expose this BS, but they can’t because they are so damned worried they’ll upset there advertisers. They could really do something with this graph, but they won’t, in much the same way they could run a great story on this weekends gun show at the Ramkota. They COULD show just how easy it is for ANYBODY to purchase damn near anything….but will they…no way in hell, not here in Powder Valley.

#16 Poly43 on 02.09.13 at 11:00 am

Was just taking a closer look at that .pdf. I find it hard wrapping myself around the fact that in 11 short years under munson and subprime mike the debt per Sioux Falls resident has tripled. Yet we have this piggy bank subprime can’t wait to flush down a rabbit hole.

#17 l3wis on 02.09.13 at 12:57 pm

Thanks for the links guys. Poly, you do point out the obvious. How can the AL beat the drum for more taxpayer funded rec facilities while reporting the city’s exploding debt? They have to pick one or the other . . .

#18 Poly43 on 02.09.13 at 3:58 pm

Give yourself the credit here Scott. While the Argus beats the spend, spend, spend drum….this website and Kermit are the only places I see exposing our out of control fixation on maxing out it’s 540 million dollar credit card limit.

#19 Poly43 on 02.09.13 at 4:03 pm

Scott, could you update that graph to show how it should look relative to Greg’s post number 5?

#20 Poly43 on 02.10.13 at 12:47 pm

I’m still trying to get a handle on our city’s exploding debt. So, I been looking at 2013 mayors proposed budget. Lots of interesting numbers. Still hard to get a grip on these numbers when hundreds of millions of dollars are being discussed. So I just moved the decimal point back six places so a country boy like me can better get a grip on these $$$$$$$ amounts being thrown around.

I started with the mayors number one talking point. His bulging at the seams piggy bank. Seems we have 1.7 million in that painted pig…or

$1.70

Pretty hard to put this number in proper perspective without doing some digging. We have debt of about 435 million…or

$435.00

The mayors proposed budget for 2013 calls for an outlay of $366,749,089.00…or

$366.74

So, where does the money come from to pay for all this stuff? Well, 46% of the money the city takes in comes from taxes. Property, sales, etc. The next biggest percent…28, comes from charges for goods and services including utilities. The other 26% is broken into 7 other smaller revenue streams…like licences, permits, fines…etc.

What the good mayor expects to take in in 2013 is

$368,303,278.00….or

$368.30

So….here are the important numbers.

Income……..$368.30 yr
Bills………….$366.74 yr
piggy……………$1.70 yr
Credit card.$435.00

I should note the good mayor is throwing a whole $22.00 this year out of his bills towards that credit card. Correct me if I’m wrong, but when credit card debt is 20% more than you make in a year….I’d say you’re in very deep doo-doo.

#21 Detroit Lewis on 02.10.13 at 1:01 pm

Poly, I try to start my day being positive. Maybe you should.

Make it a great day.

#22 l3wis on 02.10.13 at 2:06 pm

Huether’s theme song;

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Krm2alR4qwA&list=AL94UKMTqg-9B20qs1csVuUm1TPPz-XcFW

#23 Poly43 on 02.10.13 at 2:09 pm

Yer right DL. But there’s nothin to do outside but push white stuff around, and the NFL season is over. Plus I don’t care for bucketball. Just seen the kids and grandkids last night so here I am. Maybe I’ll go walk on the elliptical for an hour or so and burn off some this pissiness. Maybe when I’m done with that, I’ll apply for an online First Premier Credit Card since my piggy bank is FLUSH with shiny nickels and dimes. :)

#24 l3wis on 02.10.13 at 2:14 pm

“Maybe I’ll go walk on the elliptical for an hour or so and burn off some this pissiness.”

Laff of the day.

It is a very boring town. That is why I started the blog, to have a freaking hobby besides painting and jerking off.

#25 Poly43 on 02.10.13 at 2:22 pm

I’m gonna walk on the ellip and listen tour last post. Better be good.🔫

#26 Testor15 on 02.14.13 at 6:33 am

Has the AL editor ever been to a City Council session?

#27 Detroit Lewis on 02.14.13 at 10:16 am

I know he has several TVs in his office, so he probably does tune in on occasion. He also says he likes to watch Channel 16.

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