Entries Tagged 'economy' ↓

Sales Tax Revenue down EVEN MORE than last year

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Finance Director Tracy Turbak will be making his monthly report at the informational meeting at 4 PM. So far, the sales tax growth is even more dismal than last year. For the first 3 months we are at 0% growth. Ouch.

Since I am not an economics major, I really can’t tell you why this downward spiral is happening. Obviously the farm economy isn’t doing well, but with Sioux Falls having so many residents, you would think this would not affect us this much. I still kind of wonder if we really didn’t recover from the last recession. Wages continue to be stagnant, and that is obvious with all the food banks growing and the lack of affordable housing.

2017 City Salaries; Economic Development

While there is only 6 employees in the Economic Development office, salaries add up to over $500K. Even the lowest paid employee of the department, the administrative assistant, makes over $49K a year. The department seems management heavy.

What surprises me about the department is how slim it is on office staff. I think the department has become very ‘tight’ or should I say ‘tight-lipped’ since Huether has become mayor. I guess the fewer people in the department, the less likely there are leaks.

Here is the full doc: 2017-Wages

What the HELL is a ‘Segregated Fund’?

Sometimes when city directors are sweating bullets trying to dig themselves out of a hole (FF: 1:10) they slip up and reveal ‘certain’ things the mayor’s administration is up to. Brent O’Neil, Economic Development Manager, called an account that is ‘holding’ money away from the city’s general fund or reserve fund a ‘Segregated Fund’ during his presentation Q & A portion at the informational meeting.

Funny, in the 11 years I have been following city politics I have never heard of such a practice of hiding money from the general fund and quite frankly from the public in a separate secret account.

Maybe Finance Director, Tracy Turbak would like to explain this practice? Is it a normal practice in municipal accounting to hide money from the General Fund or Reserve Fund by putting it in a separate secret account? If it was a private business, maybe I could see such a practice, but with public money?

Sounds a little fishy to me.

When will the City of Sioux Falls tell it’s citizens we are going broke?

City workers collecting their pay checks

You can’t rack up millions in record debt building structures we don’t need, turn around and give your directors atrocious corporate like raises then turn around and tell the minions, here are your crumbs;

The American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees, which represents hundreds of clerks, drivers, and maintenance workers, said Friday that members have rejected a contract offer from the city that would have offered 1.5 percent annual pay increases through 2018.

A spokesman for the union said the raises aren’t enough to cover the rising cost of health insurance paid by city employees. The union representing police officers in the city rejected a similar contract late last year, leaving firefighters as the only employee group with a new labor contract in place.

At the end of the day, the city council will be expected to do the heavy lifting without being let in on the negotiations, basically a shot in the dark;

Although not privy to the negotiations, the City Council will be asked in the coming weeks to approve  the new terms. If the unions declare an impasse, the Council can impose the contract without the consent of the employee groups. Asked by leadership and city attorneys to stay quiet on the topic as it could end up in litigation, councilors mostly have balked at questions surrounding the labor dispute.

“We were told not to comment,” Councilor Greg Neitzert said Thursday.

Councilor Theresa Stehly said it’s not her intention to complicate the process, but she shares the unions’ concerns about not prioritizing personnel.

The city in recent years has extended itself financially with more than $150-million worth of large-scale spending projects like the Midco Aquatic Center, the Denny Sanford Premier Center and the planned city administration building, yet can’t keep the labor force happy, she said.

“I can understand how these unions feel like things aren’t adding up when we’re extending ourselves with pools and administration building,” Stehly said. “It’s so very important in our personal lives and in city life that we take care of what we already have and support what we have before we go out and extend ourselves for these wants.”

While true, seems too little too late. People often tell me that Mayor Huether has accomplished a lot, he sure has, on the backs and debt of the citizenry. He has been anything BUT prudent with our money and now it is time to pay the piper on the bill of goods he sold us.

Taxpayers duped once again by the pie in the sky dreams of developers and big business

I was very reluctant to post about this story, simply because it was no shock to me that this happened. I was waiting for the day to come when we would read this;

The company that would have been the first to build in the new Foundation Park development park has decided to look at other locations.

Stuless Whunder makes a great point;

Others question the role of taxpayer-supported public entities in the area of private development, especially if urgency to find companies to fill parcels at Foundation Park drives down the market.

In that same vein, I question why taxpayers (State and Local) are putting up over $20 million in infrastructure for a project that didn’t even bother to secure a solid purchase agreement? We should have never authorized the expenditures unless we had a ‘real’ promise from a prospect, we went ahead with the possibly of spending $20 million of tax dollars based on a ‘letter’.

Wow!

Another reason we can’t run government like a business. Unlike private enterprise, government shouldn’t be in the business of taking risks and land speculation.

As for saying I wasn’t shocked that this happen, it is because we have had precedent. For one, just peruse available industrial park land the development foundation and other realtors have available already. It’s like deciding to build a 3 car garage for your Fiat 300 and bag of golf clubs. There isn’t a need for more land, it’s a classic case of urban sprawl. Remember Phillips to the Falls? How did that work out for taxpayers? We spent millions so we can have a new location for German Fest. Also don’t forget the fiasco called EB-5. There is also the employment factor (I’m guessing that is why Logistics Buddy backed out). Capital One is leaving solely based on the fact we don’t have enough workers. There is also the promise of living wage jobs that has never been hammered out before we moved ahead with this project. But hey the city is throwing thousands of dollars at businesses for the “Welfare for Want Ads” project.

I know I often sound negative and am really a cynic at heart, but it pains me to be right about something so wrong. I hope things will work out in the end. But hey folks, it’s Meth Week in Sioux Falls, so don’t worry about failed developments and petition drives. We gotta nip this dang problem in the butt. You go Tiger Mike!

UPDATE: Sioux Falls City Debt 2016

This is a graphic I updated from 2012. Total city debt actually went down about $25 million since 2012. I wouldn’t say the city has a ‘debt’ problem, we have a ‘spending’ problem.

Click to enlarge the graphic

citydebt2016

Interesting Wealth Graphic of Sioux Falls

The Argus did a graphic of wealth in Sioux Falls. Not surprising to me, something I have known for awhile. Over two-thirds of households in Sioux Falls make under $50,000 a year, over a third make below living wages. And we wonder why food banks are growing leaps and bounds in this town.

wealth

Why hasn’t the Public had a City of Sioux Falls Financial report since April?

The mayor is set to give his CIP presentation next Tuesday, yet, we really don’t have any context where the money is coming from, or what it is projected to be.

In fact, there hasn’t been a financial report (publicly) since April of the March numbers, and the April report was quietly released on the city website on April 30 (not at a public informational meeting).

The returns are the lowest in years, in fact, even the entertainment tax is down. Could it be the boomtown has tapped as much as it can? Are revenues leveling out?

april

Is the city of Sioux Falls proposing Platting fee increases?

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I have to admit, when I saw this proposal (DOC: Platt-fee-increase) I wondered what city I was living in. After all the lies we were told several years ago about how the developers were going to kick in 50% or more while increasing our taxes, I am still skeptical about what is up.

Stay Tuned.

Let’s raise the ENTIRE tide in this state

teacher3

Are you as sick of hearing about it as I am? WE NEED TO RAISE TEACHER PAY! And we need to do it with an increase in taxes.

No we don’t.

First off, the money exists to increase education funding, it’s about priorities that our governor and state legislators make when it comes to funding education. Elect more socially conscious representatives that understand an educated society is a better society, and we can fix the education funding problem in Pierre. Keep electing backwoods hillbillies that are more concerned about shooting critters and unborn children (instead of educating the children that are already born) and there will never be more teacher pay.

Secondly, even if it was about raising taxes to increase teacher pay, why would any worker in this state support a tax increase to pay teachers more while their wages remain stagnant?

They won’t. This notion that somehow we are going to convince the hardworking citizens of South Dakota of another unnecessary tax increase to benefit one sector of our workforce (public teachers) just won’t fly.

So you ask, what is the solution? Don’t get me wrong, I think teachers should get paid better. A LOT BETTER! But I also think nurses, welders, plumbers, construction workers and hospitality workers should get paid better also in our state. This is why teachers will never have the support of other working South Dakotans for a salary hike, because we get tired of you whining about a pay increase when you won’t go to bat for the rest of us. Many workers in South Dakota in multiple fields are leaving the state in droves for better pay, we are all in this together, not just the teacher. Heck the state with the help T. Denny had to create an indentured servant program to keep welders here (Dakota scholarships).

My point is simple, when the teachers advocating for higher pay realize this just isn’t about them, but about all South Dakota workers, we will advocate for them, but they need to advocate for us to, you know, the ones paying their salaries.

I’m all for higher teacher pay, but are teachers for higher pay in other fields also? I’m guessing they are. Share the love.