Entries Tagged 'Property Taxes' ↓

Redevelopment of the Core should have started a decade ago

I have been a follower of Strongtowns for almost 10 years now, and tried to bring Chuck into speak about 7 years ago but couldn’t scrounge up a sponsorship. I’m happy to see people trying to embrace their thinking, but I think we need to play some serious catchup.

Jodi makes a good point in her Sunday column today;

But I think a renewed focus on improving existing housing stock, redeveloping core neighborhoods and investing in infrastructure and amenities that draw people to those neighborhoods could help.

Help?! I have been pleading with city councilors for over a decade to implement a core neighborhood revitalization program through re-allocating TIF rebates to individual homeowners and small apartment owners in our core neighborhoods. It could be a multi-tier program that gives property tax rebates for certain kinds of upgrades as well as using federal grants and community development loans. While we are in the middle of a crisis right now in SF when it comes to affordable housing because we have allowed realtors and developers artificially inflate the market. We can’t cry over what we should have done, we need to implement these programs ASAP to save our core neighborhoods while creating abundant affordable housing.

Welcome to Opt-Out Falls!

Well, it was bound to happen, with ALL of our local government agencies in Sioux Falls going Bat Sh*t crazy over opt-outs, the name change is no surprise.

“I will admit I was a little surprised and kind of hurt when I found out the name change,” local philanthropist Lenny Spamford exclaimed, “I mean just how much does a no state income tax paying billionaire in SD have to give before he gets a town named after him?”

The governor, Donita Trump, didn’t seem too bothered by the change either, “I guess we kind of forced it on them, you know, by collecting over 30% of our sales tax revenue from the city and giving them nothing in return. It may not seem fair, well because it isn’t. I told you I would do things differently, and I’m delivering on that promise. Talk to you later, I have to get back to trucker hat shopping and hip-hop dance lessons.”

The latest to opt-out was the Minnerahrah County Commission today voting 6-0 for an opt-out (and 5 of them are Republicans! The shame!).

“The county, especially Sioux Falls has become the place to commit crimes, it’s like it’s trendy or something to drive from Freeman, or Menno or even Highmore to commit crimes in our county,” said county commissioner Gene Bart, “We really enjoy arresting people here and putting them in the endless cycle of the criminal justice system. Heck, just yesterday we arrested someone for looking at the Arc of Dreams the wrong way, on top of that we even put a guy away for trying to burn the newly sodded grass at the Levitt with a magnifying glass. Lawn crimes, just another mole we are trying to whack! Building collapses, not so much.”

Of course nothing gives the Sioux Falls School District more jollies than an opt-out. Superintendent Baron Von Maulher said, “We were getting such a kick out of it, I banned joke books from the IPC. Whenever I see anyone down and out around the offices, I just yell ‘OPT-OUT’ and the whole place breaks out in laughter. Of course, the finance department does get a little trepidation, because they have to ‘count’ (wink, wink) the votes. I always tell them they can do that with their hands tied behind their back and blindfolded. Worked in the school bond election.”

I asked Baron what the opt-out schedule looked like for the school district over the next 5-10 years.

“Well, since Pierre really doesn’t care how much we raise taxes, we figured we would push the envelope a bit,” Von Maulher replied, “We are going to try 6-12 opt-outs per year through the board, and if the people whine about having a choice, we will hold an election, but this time there will be only ONE super precinct, and it will be in my office.”

The city council is also infamous for raising property taxes. In fact, I don’t think a city council has voted down an increase in over 15 years.

City Council Vice Chair, and RS5 self-appointed leader, Ned Greitzert explained it like this, “When someone hands you lemons, you make lemonade, when the state hands us an opportunity to raise the tax rate, we make grenades, uh, I mean lemonade.”

Well, that would explain the potholes.

I asked him about all the other numerous increases in fees and taxes the city imposes on the citizens, and couldn’t they just take it a little easy?

“Funny you bring that up,” replied Greitzert, “The majority of the council, the ‘RS5’ as we like to call it, or the ‘He-Man Steely Hater’s Club’ is all about positivity and progressive measures to keep our city’s high level of quality of life at a maximum, that means if we are going to raise fees on water, sewer and other stuff, we have to keep that tradition of caring  and due diligence with property taxes. Wouldn’t it seem odd to you that your water bill went up last year but your property taxes didn’t? Where’s the consistency there? If you want inconsistency with taxes, just vote Steely for mayor. All she’ll do is bankrupt the city while giving taxpayers a break. The next thing you know, we will all be swimming in an outdoor pool in the middle of January.”

I didn’t have the heart to tell Ned that I didn’t know how to swim, especially under ice.

Some question why all the local entities have to constantly raise our tax rates when valuations have had record growth over the past 6 years?

Mayor TenBibleverses’ Chief of Staff took a stab at the question, “I call it the candy syndrome, something I kind of started when I worked for that last crook, I mean, mayor and quit ONLY after I was forced to write the largest TIF in city history for the Spamford Sports Complex,” said Jericho Speck, “We just started handing out TIFs, tax rebates, excusing tipping fees, ignored environmental laws, built millions in infrastructure for ice cream warehouses and just said, screw it, corporate welfare for whoever wants it. Don’t tell my pastor.”

I asked, “The Candy Syndrome?”

“Yeah,” Speck said “Whatever rich developer in town that needs a handout for NO reason at all, we just give it to them. No questions asked. No proof of economic impact. No proof of job growth, or even good paying jobs. We just make sure the request is signed and we approve it. The city clerk’s office handles petitions in a similar same way.”

I wondered if this haphazard way of giving tax cuts and tax incentives was driving up everyone else’s property taxes.

Speck responded, “What? Are you stupid? Does beer like foam collect at the bottom of Falls Park every Spring for the past 100 thousand years?! You certainly are the poster child for the large percentage of South Dakotans that don’t go to college. Ever think about taking up welding? There’s a program I could refer you to.”

I had more questions, but I had to get back to my call center job, my 8.5 minute break was over.

While this was satire, some of the sh*t is true, mostly everything but the fake names.

West River math VS. East River math

So this is an interesting story;

RCSD – $250m – $20/month increase in property taxes on every $100,000 of value  =  $240 yr
Morrison/Vik/Maher MATH:
SFSD – $190m – $2/month increase in property taxes on $100,000  =  $24 yr
So which finance director is telling the truth?
I do know that the SFSD rearranged their capital outlay levees, but the disparity is strange. I also wonder if they plan to pay off the bonds a lot faster in RC?

Property tax reduction program ‘Questionable’

The more we look into the property tax reductions over the past ten years, the more questions we have. While we are still researching this, some things that stick out so far;

DOC: Historical – Tax Reduction Program.pdf

Tax Reduction Program – Informational Jan. 8.pdf

How was the mayor(s) (Munson & Huether) able to sign off on these, through the Planning Department without the review of the city council? Or even the County Commissions and School District? Were there any state laws violated?

One of the biggest recipients was involved in many LLC’s and ownership groups related to Legacy Development. Ironically one of the persons who would have known about the reductions, Daren Ketchum, now works for Legacy.

Many of the recipients are long time established, successful Sioux Falls businesses, like Raven & Gage brothers. Why would they need tax incentives?

Some of the recipients also received TIFs on top of the reduction, for example Washington Square.

Ironically Midco received a 2018 reduction of $129K. This is just a year after announcing a sponsorship of our Aquatic Center.

Did the TenHaken administration decide to blow the lid off of this to 1) wash there hands of the practice and 2) to see if the media will do some digging around? COS Erica Beck worked in the Planning office when some of these reductions were handed out.

Like I said, we are still researching the ‘many’ connections between the reduction recipients and the previous administration and will have more findings coming soon.

Why do property tax rates continue to rise in Sioux Falls?

After watching the Sioux Falls school board meeting last night about the possible Sanford donation of land for another school, it got me thinking about property tax rate increases.

Since I have purchased my home about 15 years ago my property taxes have over doubled. In that time I had one small equity loan and a re-finance. Most of the increases have come from rate increases. While I can understand a rate increase with a community that has slow building and housing growth, that hasn’t happened in Sioux Falls. In fact when you think about record building permits over the last five years and the hot seller’s market in housing you would think that rate increases would not be needed due to this massive growth.

There are several ways increases happen. The city can raise property tax rates each year, and they have every year for probably the past 20 years or longer. Minnehaha county also has had several opt-outs along with the school district and now with a new high school looming in 2019, get prepared for another BIG increase in our property taxes.

It also doesn’t help that the county has to fund the drastic increase in criminal justice services through our property taxes. The city really should be helping to pay for incarceration with the 2nd penny and the alcohol tax really should be doubled to help alleviate those costs. It would also help if our PD was properly staffed, trained and paid to help combat crime through prevention instead of whack a mole.

That is why I am confused about the math. How can we continue to add housing and commercial property and have several press conferences about this growth yet have to raise rates consistently? So which is it? Is the massive growth adding to the tax rolls? Damn right it is. So are we being over taxed on our property? Probably, especially on private housing.

Part of the problem is all the cheerleading about building permits is kind of a false pep rally. Many of the big projects in our community are public or non-profit projects. And the ones that are not are getting TIFs or other tax abatements. In other words, the big wheels in town are seeing some big tax cuts while the rest of us are ponying up for infrastructure through higher taxes for projects like Flopdation Park.

The system is clearly broken and the city, school district, county and state need to take a different approach to funding government instead of constantly increasing our property taxes. I had a few solutions above, but I also think we should suspend or end the TIF program. It hasn’t proven that it pays for itself through workforce development or providing affordable housing. TIFs are corporate welfare in Sioux Falls and little else. I would encourage the next mayor and council to seriously look at ending this program and initiating different programs for developers like deregulation to save them money.

Let’s face it, if you are working class in this city you are getting the shaft when it comes to taxes (and don’t think apartment dwellers are immune, the high rental rates are proof property tax rates are high). Sales taxes are also very regressive. Taxing food at a higher rate to supplement teacher was and is a bad idea.

It’s time to stop the incremental property tax rate increases and use common sense when funding essential government services.

More concerns about a possible multi-million dollar TIF to developer

As I have mentioned before, with Sioux Falls School District recently passing a $50 million dollar opt-out and the plans for a possible $30 million dollar bond for a new HS this is the WRONG time to be handing out property tax discounts in the form of TIF’s to wealthy, successful developers. Not to mention all the issues with open enrollment causing widespread segregation and almost half of Sioux Falls students on FREE or reduced lunches.

Here are a few more reasons;

• The county is struggling to make ends meet with rising crime while building a new jail.

• Developers, especially one of the largest in the city, having been doing very well for a long time, especially with record breaking building permits, do they really need tax discounts or breaks to be successful? Shouldn’t we be focusing tax incentives on affordable and workforce housing and not retail and luxury lofts?

• The state is in the midst of considering some rule changes when it comes to giving so much power to municipalities concerning TIF’s. Expect some legislation in the upcoming 2018 session. Not only does the county and school district want a bigger say in these matters, so does the state.

• There are numerous conflicts of interest on the council. Besides Councilor Marshall Selberg being an independent contractor for Lloyd Companies, the mayor and some of the others have received campaign donations from Lloyd. Starr, Neitzert and Stehly seem to be the only candidates who have not. You can’t hardly vote on a $43 million dollar project with a TIF incentive with only 3 votes.

There are way to many conflicts of interest here for the council to even consider a TIF incentive. I think approving the project is fine, but when it concerns a tax discount, that should be taken off the table.

Tax OPT-OUT fails to get enough signatures

I knew it was going to be a rough road getting that many signatures in a short period of time. I think they lacked the manpower to get it done. Not sure how many they were short, but after talking to a couple different people from the drive and associates it looks like they came up about 1,000 short (which ironically means they got about as many signatures as the number of people who voted in the last school board election) So I guess we are stuck with paying the $50 million dollar ‘SINISTER’ tax.

I also got thinking about the statement from the school board that they wouldn’t spend the entire tax, and that’s all fine and dandy, but they still have to ‘collect’ the tax. So does that mean at the end of the year, what they don’t spend will be refunded back to us?

LOL!

In other words, even if they don’t spend it, it still gets collected and goes into investments. At least the school district will not only be able to retain teachers they will keep some stock brokers in Sioux Falls employed. Now shut up, go pay your higher taxes on food so we can retain teachers who teach kids on FREE and reduced lunches. Makes sense? Right?

Last day to sign opt out tax petition

You can either sign at the County Administration Building OR at the 57th street entrance of Yankton Trail Park, all day today. The petitions are due tomorrow.

Don’t forget to sign the petition this 4th of July

As I understand it, the petitioners will be at Falls Park collecting signatures for tax opt-out on 4th of July. So celebrate America, FREE pork sandwiches, and your right to petition your government.

Petition Signing Drive Through – Stop the Property Tax Increase!

Drive through to sign the petition to put the School Board’s 50 MILLION dollar property tax hike up for a vote! We will be there all day Saturday 9 AM – 5 PM and from 1 PM to 4 PM on Sunday July 2nd. Turn in the petitions you are circulating! Notary present.

Located in the same place you pay your property taxes! Parking lot of the Minnehaha county administration on Minnesota Ave and 6th Street.