ArtMaze, one of the better parts of Sioux Falls life in 2016
2016 has been a rough year for citizen activism. While it has been up and down here in Sioux Falls with many successes and failures to boot, it seems Washington DC has gone into full collapse as we allowed racist, sexist, hillbillies to elect our president.
But locally there were three things that stood out;
• Governor Daugaard claiming that voters were ‘hoodwinked’ into voting for IM 22, then getting the Pierre (in)justice system to go along with it. Funny how for over 40 years voters have been voting his party into power, and no word about ‘hoodwinking’ but once that corrupt power will be challenged, all the voters are idiots. As one official told me that used to work for Dennis, it’s not the public that are idiots, it’s Dennis. And his idiocy has been shining through.
• The South Dakota Democratic Party’s bottom completely fell out, and the people in charge patted themselves on the back. Insanity I tell you! Insanity!
• But one of the greatest achievements of the year is the Sioux Falls City Council’s change of power. The four new councilors have been flexing their muscles with a little help from Councilor Erickson, and while they have had a few missteps to start out, they have been learning from the battle scars. While ‘leadership’ of the council (Rolfing and Kiley) seem to be on a two man mission to rubberstamp all things Huether, shut down public input, and concoct false ethics charges against a fellow councilor (until they got caught lying like the snakes they are) they are becoming more and more in check. The city council has many big plans for 2017, and I have a feeling their agenda will push through easily as our lame duck mayor melts.
Let’s take a look at some the finer high and low points of 2016;
• The Huether Tennis center continues to block parking from other event attendees at the Sanford Sports complex though they basically stole $500K from taxpayers for the facility. Throughout the year there was several reports on cones and signs blocking the lot with not cars in it. But hey Mike’s Bride won an award this year and seemed surprised she did, without commenting that her check to the organization that gave the award wasn’t returned.
• The Sioux Falls City Council leadership and mayor’s HR department pulled a military retiree out of their asses for city clerk, a person who will be in charge of our city elections and hasn’t been registered to vote for years. He also proved his knowledge of official stamps when he stamped a petition without even bothering to read it. While Mr. Greco has gotten better over the year, the city clerk position should not be a $80K+ a year job as an apprentice, sadly being trained by one of his assistant clerks who has ten times the qualifications and applied for the position but was turned down. I’m sure it had nothing to do with the council chair’s view of women in the work place.
• Speaking of letting the mayor’s HR department and Leadership’s Mutt and Jeff pick the next internal auditor, the council barked loud enough that they did not want another ‘Greco’ pick. Not sure if the barking worked, but the person who was set to take the job saw the writing on the wall and turned it down. Hopefully the person who ultimately gets the position won’t be turned down because they shave their legs.
• The city continues to blow money on the Winter Wonderland Display, but the way the mayor has been cutting budgets these days, I expect next year’s display to be a couple of homeless barrel fire pits, sponsored by the Dudley House of course.
• After posting about the ridiculous corporate like raises the mayor has been giving to his management team, he turns around and still screws the minions with dismal raises again this year. I think in a special note to the city employees on their Christmas paystub he wrote, “I don’t care.”
• The city continues the FREE condom distribution program at area bars, and for some reason Monk’s is always emptied the quickest. Coincidence that is also a favorite watering hole of city managers . . .
• The Tuthill shooting case becomes ‘inactive’ and a tree branch shadow gets off scott free.
• The Erp wrongfully calls out local massage therapists as prejudice because they pointed out the ‘shower massages’ that were taking place around town. Apparently someone got a bad fortune cookie that day.
• The car rental tax and BID tax grabby-grabby fails in Sioux Falls, but the state legislature passes one of the most idiotic tax increases ever so our teachers are now just tied for last instead of dead last in pay. Out hoodwinking governor already has plans to rob the pot only one year after its passage.
• Hartford’s city government was in a state of collapse. Who really cares?
• The Levitt Pavilion is moving forward in Sioux Falls. It will be nice watching outdoor concerts sitting in the grass while battery acid is boiling beneath our asses.
• The Boulevard ordinance changes went into effect. Now stop worrying about rocks and plant a garden.
• The Washington Pavilion got a change of leadership after Darrin Smith takes over as President. So far he has only eliminated one director, but I hear the blood-letting has just begun. Now let’s throw another couple of million at the place to fix the poor construction to begin with. That will never happen with the Events Center . . .
• The Events Center cracks down on outside snacks and guns at events. We are all now safe from cheap fat people shooting us, but not in the parking lot.
• The Pottie Room war starts in Pierre and is guaranteed to return in 2017.
• A city council candidate throws a hissy fit over a post I wrote about his wife’s involvement with the Jesus plows and after threats to my employer I pull the post. He ends up taking last place in the at-large race. How’s Jesus working out for you now?
• Due to health reasons, Kermit Staggers decides not to run for a 4th term on the city council. His endorsement of Stehly puts her over the top.
• One of the youngest candidates in city history runs for city council. I apologize to Briggs for all the shitty things I said about him during the campaign.
• The Argus Leader sues the city for the details in the secret events center siding settlement. The Argus loses the first round but it is headed to the SD Supreme Court.
• On a similar note, the SON neighborhood is also awaiting a judgement in their Walmart suit with the SD Supreme Court.
• The Mayor and Q-Tip Smith screwup the DT parking ramp development by flapping their traps to soon, and the council later on in the year returns the favor and defunds the ramp all together for 2017. I still think the fiasco is what got Smith to seek refuge at the Pavilion.
• City officials throw a hissy-fit over Bruce’s camera at a city meeting we were invited to by then city councilor Kenny Anderson. Looking back on it now, I just chuckle.
• Bruce and I do a presentation on voter turnout in Sioux Falls at Democratic Forum and one of the mayor’s buddy developers in Sioux Falls tries to shut us down. When he fails, he walks out. Another casualty to transparency.
Remember only a few short months ago before the city election when the Public Works department and Mayor’s office were in maximum B.S. mode? I know, hard to keep track.
We were essentially told that water rates had to increase because they were a separate ‘enterprise fund’ and the fees you pay towards water and sewer went directly towards fixing water and sewer. They also told us in that same breath that ‘they could’ use CIP money (2nd penny) for upgrades to water and sewer, but didn’t because of the enterprise fund.
Now comes along Item #55 in the Sioux Falls City council agenda for Tuesday night (click on item then click on the PDF in the upper right corner). Seems the Water department and the Streets department are having a regular old poker game with our money, and chips are going all over the place. So how is it we can give road money to the Water department and Water money to the roads? I thought they came out of separate funds?
Once again more hyperbole fed to us before an election. At least we didn’t end up with another $180 million dollar white elephant this time.
This is a letter to the editor over a year ago in the Lincoln, NE newspaper oddly similar to what we are experiencing in Sioux Falls, especially when it comes to TIF’s and the city’s power to hand them out like candy;
In enacting TIF, the Legislature made a vital mistake not putting state oversight into the process. Over the past 15 years, politicians and real estate speculators hijacked TIF, morphing it into an unauthorized use for self-serving development projects. Municipalities are now unilaterally confiscating the property tax dollars of our public schools, counties, NRDs and community colleges in order to increase developer’s profits and avoid the political pain of raising city property tax rates.
Remember when COSTCO asked NOT to use a TIF? It was for the very reasons mentioned above. COSTCO has a policy of not asking for tax breaks that take away from public education funding.
A Journal Star article dated March 4, concerning the proposed Trinitas Ventures 172-unit living complex, states that the “developer is not asking the city for tax incentives to build the complex, but it has agreed to partner with the city to use (TIF) … to pay for parking improvements.” Neb. Rev. Stat. 18-2116 is clear that projects cannot be approved unless it is demonstrated that they will not occur or be economically feasible in the blighted and substandard redevelopment area without TIF financing.
A story on Aug. 10, 2014, in the Journal Star details another instance where the developer Ploughshare Brewing Company did not ask for TIF; the story states “an unusual situation because the financing wasn’t requested by a private developer. Instead, the city pitched the deal to Ploughshare … over the spring, after work had already begun on its new brewery.” Clearly, these projects do not pass the litmus test of the above statute.
Remember the back and forth on Washington Square’s proposed TIF? While the city and developer claim the TIF will be used mostly for utility and parking, it doesn’t change the fact that luxury condos will be sitting on top of those utility and parking upgrades. Hardly ‘blight’.
The law is clear — those incremental property taxes from “the” project must “be used solely to pay” the bonded indebtedness of the project and “(w)hen such … indebtedness, including interest … ha(s) been paid,” such property thereafter shall be taxed as is other property in the respective taxing districts. There is no justification for “leftover (TIF) funds” in TIF-related law. Once the projects mentioned in the article (Centennial Mall, Gold’s Building, etc.) generate enough funds to pay off the bond debt, the $5.6 million of property taxes should be returned to the public schools, county and other taxing entities.
Not sure how much different it is in South Dakota, but I will say that some of the same principals apply. Once a TIF runs out, the property owner must start paying what the property is really worth. Ironically, by that time, the ownership of the property will probably not be in the hands of the current developers and investors, who walked away with a pretty penny on their investments, at a cost to our public education system and other government entities (remember, we just passed a 1/2 cent sales tax increase, on things like food, clothing and utilities to pay teachers more, because we are short on education funding-we have a over a half-billion sitting in education investment funds-then we turn around and give property tax breaks to developers who build luxury condos).
I’m opposed to ALL TIF’s, but specifically the current ones we have been handing out, that have NO direct benefit to the public and rob our education funding.
The little talked about Board of Tax Appeals got interesting last time around, especially when Mike Huether showed up;
I stated my objection to the increase and the mayor put his hand up for me to be quiet. He visited with Kenny Anderson, then asked me what I paid for my condo. I told them, and he visited with Anderson again. He asked me if my condo was the same as the one across the hall. I said, “Yes.” He informed me she paid $202,000. I objected, as her purchase included furniture. I also informed them they couldn’t know the actual cost of the unit because of that. (I later asked her, and she paid $10,000 less).
I started another statement of facts and the mayor raised his hand to quiet me again. He spoke to Anderson, and asked for a vote of the commissioners. All said, “Aye.” I said, “Excuse me, but I would like to know what you decided?” The mayor stated they decreased my assessment $4,000, which will determine my 2017 taxes. I informed the mayor I had owned property in South Dakota for 50 years, and never has the assessed value, the prepaid taxes and realtor fee exceeded the selling price of the property. As usual, the Mayor rudely raised his hand to quiet me.
I would not expect to be treated like that by an elected official. He is obviously more interested in acting important than caring about a voter or her problem.
He cares. About taxing the living crap out of you. Gotta pay for those play things.
So this email from the super of Harrisburg was recently sent out;
From: Notification from Harrisburg School District [mailto:Notification-Do_Not_Reply@target.brightarrow.com]
Sent: Saturday, April 02, 2016 2:01 PM
To: – – – –
Subject: This is a notification from Harrisburg School District
We are hearing that some people in Lincoln County are seeing that their real estate taxes have taken a big jump. What we understand is that most of this is due to higher assessments on property. The Harrisburg School has again not raised their tax levies for the 9th year in a row. Any increases you may see are not due to an increase by the school. Jim Holbeck
The assessments are up in Sioux Falls to. Funny how this city is swimming in money and we have all this borrowing power, of course we do, we keep increasing taxes.
Merri Nolz won a small claims judgment against the city four years ago.
“The judge looked at it and found some contributory negligence on her part, but it was slight,” said Paul Bengford, the assistant city attorney who handled the case.
By “slight,” Bengford means 10 percent. Nolz got $1,654.06, which was 90 percent of the money she’d asked for in repairs and car rental fees.
As the article continues, you will see the irony in the judgements of the city spending thousands of dollars fighting minimal claims, which got me thinking about the lawsuit in Jackson County in which the South Dakota municipal insurance COOP, Public Assurance spent hundreds of thousands of dollars defending their (illegal) right to deny Native Americans a voting center that was in clear violation of Federal Law.
Or there was the denial of payment to an apartment building landlord who had their property destroyed by the SFPD SWAT team, or the flooding of Touch of Europe by a city fire hydrant.
It seems the city and Public Assurance would rather spend their money on attorney fees then actually doing the right thing and paying out claims when they are clearly negligent.
These are examples of the kind of disgusting pigs that work in the legal fields of our government, and I haven’t even mentioned our own attorney general.
Our intrepid mayor of Sioux Falls seems to think the US Constitution, Charter and written laws are brick walls to overcome. Listen to him discuss his quest to make over the city into his image at the Neighborhood Summit on November 14, 2015. His “to hell with the laws, Council and citizens” must be overcome if we are to have a clean and safe city for all.
The brick walls he is upset with are based on rights guaranteed by our U.S. Constitution, South Dakota Constitution and the Sioux Falls Home Rule Charter. Why does no one challenge hizzoner when he defends his administration’s lawbreaking actions?
In this Summit part 1 Mayor Mike let’s us in on his lawless vision of government by and for the specials at the expense of the rest of us.
Since the city of Sioux Falls heavily edits or blocks meetings videos we now offering a direct link to our collected city videos through www.siouxfall.org.
So we ask “Neighbors are only good if they conform to his vision?”
Today in theArgus Leader, they did a story about the Washington Square developers applying for a $4.6 million dollar TIF. They contend they deserve the TIF based on the fact that they will provide FREE public parking of 189 spaces (at night and weekends ONLY).
This is where the TIF funding does not add up. As of right now they pay about $7K a year in property taxes, after the project is completed they assume the property tax bill will be $500K per year. What they don’t tell you is when you subtract the TIF rebate value from that tax bill, the government entities will NOT be receiving these taxes until 9 years after the project is completed (around 2025-26).
We can talk tax benefits all we want, but when we don’t provide TIF’s and private investors figure out how to build these projects with their own money (remember last year we had record building permits with NO TIF’s issued), the community benefits from the property taxes immediately after the project is completed, not 8-9 years later.
Funny how the commission gets to see this presentation before the council – or at least I can’t recall the council getting the presentation yet?
Darrin explains TIFs before the new TIF presentation. While he is correct that TIFs don’t cost taxpayers up front (even though we are footing the bill to administer them) we are losing property tax revenue for several years. Basically the developers are paying themselves property taxes and using the money to pay for the development.
A 98-year-old house and two other buildings constructed in the 20th century in Sioux Falls have received eight-year property tax moratoriums to help with maintenance and rehabilitation (through the South Dakota State Historical Society).
A home in the McKennan Park Historic District also received a property tax moratorium. The Baker House at 503 E. 21st Street is a Tudor Revival style of architecture that needs replacements.
While I think the State Theatre could use it, I am struggling with a private residence. Not only is it a behemoth three-story mansion, but besides being worked on (for over a year now) it is also been added onto. I think it is great that someone is ‘fixing up’ a historical home (for the record my house is 125 years old and could use some repairs) but to ask for a property tax cut? Seriously?
The wealthy already enjoy low taxes in South Dakota and NO income tax, now when they buy (an already well-kept) mansion, they want a tax break?
Oh, I can hear it already, I’m a hypocrite because I posted in the past about TIF’s for cleaning up older homes in the central part of the city. Trust me, when I talk about fixing up homes in the core of the city, this place DOES NOT come to mind. I live about a mile from the home and walk past it weekly with the dog. When Scott owned it, it was well taken care of, and after he sold it, I noticed the new owners doing a massive rehab on it. Don’t believe me, just drive by. It is straight EAST of the Tennis courts at McKennan Park on 21st Street.
Wonder who the new owner knows on the Historical Society’s board of trustees 🙂
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Prosecutors requested the arrest Monday of the de facto head of Samsung, South Korea's biggest company, on bribery and other charges in the influence-peddling scandal that led to the impeachment of the country's president.