Entries Tagged 'Minnehaha County' ↓

Baltic Mayor resigns then becomes PAID administrator

So I’ve seen some weird things in small town SD government, but this takes the cake. In one short meeting in August in the little town of Baltic, Mayor Weldland calls the meeting to order, resigns, swears in a new mayor than takes a PAID position of city administrator for $65K a year.

No I didn’t make this stuff up (DOC: 081418_Baltic)

THE BALTIC CITY COUNCIL MET IN REGULAR SESSION ON AUGUST 14, 2018. Mayor Wendland called the meeting to order at 7:00 PM.

g. Mayor Wendland presented his letter of resignation as Mayor effective immediately. Grunewaldt made a motion to accept his resignation and thanked him for his service. Second by Drayer. All Ayes.

h. Jenks made a motion to appoint Scott Grunewaldt as Mayor to serve a term of 10 months until the next regular election. Second by Hotzler. All Ayes. Hoefert gave Grunewaldt the Oath of Office.

i. Grunewaldt nominated Tracy Petersen of Baltic for appointment as Alderman Ward 2. Drayer made a motion to appoint Tracy Petersen as Alderman Ward 2 for a term of 10 months until the next general election. Second by Hotzler. All Ayes. Hoefert administered the Oath of Office.

j. Personnel – deferred until after Executive Session.

Personnel – Jenks made a motion to appoint Mike Wendland as City Administrator/Economic Development Coordinator at an annual salary of $65,000 with a start date of September 4, 2018. Second by Hotzler. All Ayes.

Oh, and the rumors get even better. Mr. Wendland is said to be the preferred candidate to be appointed to the Minnehaha County Commission if one of the elected Republican incumbents chooses to resign shortly after being re-elected.

Weird Sh*t indeed.

City News, Rumors, Odds & Ends

The Glory House rehabilitation apartments are one step closer to opening with the tearing down of the old ice rec center.


I kind of saw this coming;

The couple deferred the final vote to review costs.

Power’s say the Billion’s are revising their plan and changes will be made.

As I understand it, it was going to be very costly to provide underground parking due to quartzite issues, so I’m sure they are trying to revise the parking situation to include it above ground in the planned structure. But I’m not sure. I do know that the city requested the building be a certain amount of stories (6?) due to density and there may me a disagreement on just how that may be done with including above ground parking. I never understand why developers want to get involved with private/public partnerships with the city.


There has been rumor floating around from city hall that a TIF may be applied to this project. Now while you may argue that the land Sioux Steel currently sits on is probably contaminated due to decades of manufacturing and this would be classified as ‘blight’ do you think it is fair to give a tax rebate to developers who contributed to that blight to begin with? Kind of a philosophical/ethical question. While we know clean up will have to occur before redeveloping the site I suggest applying for EPA grants and NOT taking away money from public education in the form of TIFs.


Mike is going to address the Sioux Falls City Council about the purpose of joint jurisdiction after the recent fluff up over the wedding barn. The city must be getting nervous that the Minnehaha County Commission may be planning to withdraw from the ‘Polite’ agreement.


Not sure why the City Clerk decided to renew this contract with all the problems with the service?


Even after the city council told them to explore other options the Parks Department (director) convinced the TenHaken administration they still needed the studies done. So much for the legislative body’s input on this one. I also find it ironic we are seeking a parks accreditation but don’t seek the similar credentials for our police department. Because you know, green grass is far more important than public safety . . .


I posed this question to Head City Attorney Stacy Kooistra this week in an email;


I noticed after state law changed concerning public input that the planning commission started having public ‘general’ input at the end of the meeting. They did it for a couple of meetings than in last week’s meeting they did not do it (only on agenda items).

While I understand that maybe NO ONE came and spoke that doesn’t mean it can be eliminated. In fact in my 12 years or more of attending city council meetings there were several meetings in which people did not speak, but it still is offered.

I am wondering why they ended offering this at the planning meetings?

Stacy responded to me that he would meet with planning staff to discuss. I got this response today from Jason Bieber, Urban Planner in the Planning department;


Thank you for the email regarding the agenda item for Public Input at the monthly Planning Commission meeting.    As indicated in SDCL 1-25-1, “The Chair of the body shall reserve at every official meeting by the public body a period for public comment, limited at the chair’s discretion, but not so limited as to provide for no public comment.”  Therefore, our Planning Commission Chairman made the decision to remove the agenda item for Public Input on non-agenda items at our monthly Planning Commission meeting for the simple fact that it had not been utilized by citizens so far.  He also felt that we allow public input at our 12:00pm Planning Commission Briefing the day (Tuesday) before the Planning Commission meeting and that may be a better opportunity for Citizens to provide public input.  In doing public input this way we do comply with SDCL 1-25-1.

This meeting of course, while open to the public, is at city hall with limited parking in the middle of the day on a Tuesday. The meeting is also NOT recorded or live streamed.

After receiving your comments as well as those from Councilmember Stehly, Planning Staff and the Planning Commission Chair have decided to add the Public Input Agenda item back on the Planning Commission Meeting agenda.  Our intent was not to limit Citizen Involvement at our Planning Commission Meetings, but to provide the best avenue for Public Input.

As I mentioned in my original email, doesn’t matter whether anybody shows up or not, as long as an opportunity is provided. The irony is even if NO ONE speaks it only takes a matter of seconds to ask if anyone is present to speak and is little inconvenience to the Planning Commission or their chair.

Thank you for bringing your concern to our attention and we look forward to Citizen Public Input at the November 7th Planning Commission Meeting.

That kind of sounds like an invitation to me. I’ll keep my calendar open that night. I always have plenty to say about planning in this community.

*I would also like to thank Councilor Stehly for looking into this for me initially. We kind of tag teamed this effort.

Is a Minnehaha County Commissioner Candidate Incumbent planning to resign after being elected?

There is a rumor going around that one of the Republican incumbent Minnehaha County commissioners plans to resign if/after they are re-elected. While I have a pretty good guess who that may be, I have NO idea if they plan to resign soon after the election (so someone can be appointed) or wait two years (when the next election is held for the county commission).

If this is true, my guess is they will put in a couple of months and resign after January so they can appoint another Republican and create a FAKE incumbent like they did with Jean Bender.

It’s a little trick the Republican’s pull all the time in the legislature and now it seems they are getting used to the practice on the County Commission.

Like I said, at this point it is a rumor, but had a pretty reliable source tell me about it.

Was the fire at the Work Release jail preventable with a simple policy change?

After talking to a Minnehaha County official yesterday, I’m starting to wonder if the fire at the jail could have been prevented if they were following the city’s policy on tobacco free zones?

There is a presentation on Tuesday about the policy at the Sioux Falls City Council informational meeting. I found this slide interesting;

City-owned buildings; Smoking prohibited 25 feet from the entrance.

So even if the jail is county property it does lie within in the city limits of Sioux Falls. So why was this butt holder SO close to the building? Public property IMO is any Public property within the city limits, whether the county owns it or not. Shouldn’t they be following the city’s rule? Or should the county be setting their own rules?

We now know the cause of the fire at the Minnehaha County Correction Center last month. Fire officials say it was accidentally started by a cigarette butt in a holder in the corner of the building.

“It sat, it smoldered for quite a few minutes and then started the fire,” Dean Lanier with Sioux Falls Fire Rescue said.

It also brings up another question. Was this an employee’s butt holder? It seems the location of the holder would suggest that it was. So why doesn’t the county implement a similar policy? It seems like this could be a very expensive lesson to the taxpayers of the county.

Minnehaha County Commission & Sioux Falls City Council fight over joint jurisdiction

The CC and CC just can’t agree on whether or not to allow a wedding barn to be built in the middle of a corn field. Yes. You heard me right. You would think with all the big decisions to make, that a wedding barn (outside of the city limits) would be the last thing to debate about. Oh, and it’s painful.

Ironically the Sioux Falls Planning Commission and Minnehaha Planning Commission both agreed it was ok. The kicker? Jeff Schmidt with the city’s planning office is concerned that in 12-30 years from now a housing development may be built around the wedding barn, and it may hurt the growth of the development because of the ‘noise’ from a wedding barn.

Are wedding barns noisy? Hmm.

The biggest problem with this is that the city and county agreed on joint jurisdiction in the growth area of Sioux Falls. In other words, land that is still not annexed into city limits but could be in the future. Most of the time it’s fine, but Schmidt with the help of councilor Neitzert decided to nitpick about streets, drainage and commercial/residential development 12-30 years down the road. Right now the land is a corn field and zoned ag in the county, they need to re-zone so the barn can be built.

County Chair Heiberger reminded the bodies on the dais that the joint jurisdiction is a more or less a ‘polite’ agreement, and if the city continues to nitpick about stupid crap, the county may get rid of the agreement (well she really didn’t say that, but you get the feeling).

Towards the end of the meeting during public input I told both bodies to try to remember to bring legal counsel to these meetings (neither side had one present) and that they need to stop cooking up their legislative priorities in private with only leadership in the room.

Minnehaha County throws the ‘Code Enforcement’ book at rural resident

(FF: 6:40) While I will give credit to the CC for giving this person many opportunities to clean up this lot, they put down their foot on Tuesday and now gave him 1 month to finish cleaning it up. They determined it a ‘public nuisance’. If he doesn’t clean it up, they will come in and seize vehicles.

Do I think he is in violation? Yes, but not as a ‘nuisance’. The only laws I feel he is breaking is not licensing abandoned vehicles. But I don’t think this is a ‘nuisance’ or health issue. He lives in a rural area for a reason, so he can collect his junk. I can go to any farm in this county or across the state that have junk tractors and equipment piled up. So what?! It’s a rural area.

I think they view this as a problem because he is on a major rural intersection where people can see it. As the owner points out, this property has been this way since his grandfather owned it in the 1940’s. In fact many neighbors who drive by on a daily basis have defended him and said they don’t have a problem with it. And why would they? They probably have a junk pile on their rural properties.

While I think nuisance laws and junk piles inside a city or town are important where there is small lots and density, I don’t think it is a big deal when it comes to the rural areas, and to be quite honest, I think this is just harassment. I encourage him to fight the county in court, but first license your vehicles or junk them.

Sioux Falls City Council Agenda, Sept 4-5, 2018

City Council Working Session – 2:30 PM – Sept 4th

They will be discussing budget amendments and ‘Unfunded’ projects

City Council Informational Meeting – 4 PM – Sept 4th

Update on UDC meeting, Subdivision ordinance update, Parks Master Plan study and City Attorney’s budget

Regular City Council Meeting – 7 PM – Sept 4th

Item #1, Approval of Contracts. We still keep polishing the turd called the Pavilion Parking ramp.

Item #3, Selling off 3 transit buses in an online auction.

Item #4, Mecahnic’s lien against the city for not paying contractor for Brown Bear exhibit at the zoo. I guess this was the first time I have heard about this. Hopefully we will get an explanation.

Item #21-22, New beer and wine license for a new establishment in the old Prairie Berry location on 8t street.

Item #23-24, Another Axe Throwing place wanting a beer and wine license. But NO beer with your popcorn at the movie theater.

Item #32, Notice of Change Orders over $25K. This really should be changed to notice change orders starting at zero.

Item #40, LifeScape parking lot. This has been a very controversial debate and I expect a lot of people from the neighborhood opposing the parking lot. It will be interesting to see how the council votes. LifeScape has already bought and removed the houses in the area of the proposed parking lot. So if the deny the lot, what will go there?

Item #41, Street Vacation.

Item #46-47, Dissolving 2 TIFs (see my earlier post)

Item #48, More citizen board appointees.

Item #49, Resolution, denying demolish of homes in a historic district. I expect testimony from the developer who owns these homes or a representative.

Joint Minnehaha County/City Council Meeting – 3 PM – Sept 5th

Joint Budget Hearings for Museums, Libraries and Metro 911

Planning Commission Meeting – 6 PM – Sept 5th

Item #7, Alcohol permit for a Coffee shop. Still trying to figure out why establishments call themselves ‘coffee shops’ but serve beer and wine. Puzzling.

Item #9, Alcohol permit for another telephone booth video lottery casino. Planning staff doesn’t recommend approval or denial, they recommend the commission listens to testimony. It’s interesting because the place is close the Avera Campus. We will see who wins? Video Lottery or the Hospital Industrial Complex? Wonder if the Planning Commission will throw another flaming football to the city council.

Item# 10, oh, and guess who is looking for a rezone in the very next item? Avera.

Item #11, Subdivision ordinance change. This is interesting;

• Add new private streets standards.

• Require a maintenance agreement for the private streets and utilities.

• Define and add standards for flag pole lots.

• Improve pedestrian and bicycle neighborhood connectivity.

• Add standards to reserve new bicycle trail corridors.

• Move some standards to the Preliminary Plan.

• Clarify and make minor changes to the subdivision process.

• Update the plat process to be consistent with state law.

Item #13. 2nd ANNUAL CITIZENS PLANNING ACADEMY. Wonder if they changed their tune about letting the most wealthiest developers in town getting their way?

Did Minnehaha County Commissioner Barth get sidestepped?

(FF: 31:00) The County Commissioners each are appointed to different departments. One of departments under Barth’s direction is Emergency Management. There has been a behind the scenes movement to move Emergency Management to a different location in which Barth had no knowledge of. Listen to Commissioner Beninga try to dig himself out of a hole.


As you may have saw a few weeks ago, Sioux Falls City Councilor Brekke was troubled about how the council came up with their legislative priorities. Commissioner Barth has also expressed that he wasn’t to happy about the fact that Council Chair Erickson and Commission Chair Heiberger cooked this up together without input from other councilors and commissioners. Seems leadership is going to some people’s heads pretty quick.

Update: Sioux Falls City Council Agenda, Aug 28, 2018

Informational Meeting • 4 PM

Minnehaha-Lincoln County Pre-Disaster Mitigation Plan presentation. I’m glad to see this. We have been talking about what plans risk management has in case of a major train derailment. And now with the recent amounia leak in the Big Poo by Smithfield’s it’ time we put on our big kid pants on as a city and realize we need to be prepared for a major disaster.

We will also get an update on the Emerald Ash Borer.

Joint Minnehaha County/Council meeting • 5 PM


Will Sioux Falls Adults be looking at $10K per capita debt in a couple of years?

Before all the math wizards start freaking out, I want you to know the numbers below are approximates, but close. One of the numbers I had trouble finding was the SF School District current debt. From looking at past data I believe it is hovering at that $100 million mark, but I am unsure, it could be higher. I based the number on their yearly debt service of $13 million which would put them a little above that $100 million mark. I’m also spit balling the city debt a bit, because I am basing that on 2017 numbers minus some major payoffs.

The Sioux Falls Adult population numbers are very, very close.

Where it gets a little sticky is I am using the entire county of Minnehaha’s debt while only including SF adults. I also leave Lincoln county out (I would be surprised if they had any debt) and the fact that NOT all SF adult residents live in the Sioux Falls school district.

Yes friends, living in Sioux Falls is a ‘Hot Mess’ of taxes. In fact your neighbor just across the street could be paying a different property tax rate than you, it’s that weird.

But, I also think the enormity of the numbers helps people better grasp that if you live in Minnehaha County, within the city limits of Sioux Falls and the SF School District, your per capita (govt) debt could easily reach $10K in the next 4-5 years.

This is why I often shake my head when the school district talks about $2 a month tax increase, or the Water Department talks about $.30 a month water and sewer increases, they never mention the current and future debt we will be taking on. It’s a boatload.

Realistically, how many adult working SF residents could cut a check for $10K tomorrow without borrowing it or hurting their personal finances? My guess it is probably less than 1%. We don’t live our lives this way, why should our government?

The irony is that our debt is half of what T. Denny is worth. Hint. Hint.

We could finally put the Sanford Falls sign up.