Entries Tagged 'Public Utilities' ↓

Water Rate Increases, scripted in the bathroom stall

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Water conservation = Lower Rates. I jest.

The Argus Leader ED board has a brilliant suggestion;

We believe the water system should pay for itself, through the users, and that pricing for those services needs to help drive conservation.

If we feel our water bills are too high, maybe we can start by using less water?

Uh, yes, what a freaking concept. This poor stupid hippie in me has all of sudden forgotten about ‘conservation’. Except the fact of the glaring irony of your statement (so bold and finger pointing). Water rates did not go up for decades because the city was selling water at an all time high. In fact, during the Hanson administration, the water plant almost blew up. Really, it almost did. Or was it Munson? I forget.

So then we had exploding sewer pipes, etc. The city said, ‘Goddammit we are going to conserve!’ Bravo! They started handing out toilet rebates like candy and fancy low flow shower heads and garden hose thingies.

We were on our way to catching up with modern society, because once we conserve, our water rates would go down. I jest.

Quite the opposite. We started conserving, even at a record amount, then came that pesky Events Center and Jason Aldean concerts. How to pay for them? Well, it is quite simple. We start making water users, even the ones that conserve like a camel in a dessert, pay for pipes that orginally came from the 2nd penny infrastructure funds.

Oh, and what about all this urban sprawl, Foundation Park and the 22 Walmarts we need to build in the middle of cornfields? We gotta pay for pipes to them to. It’s all about those high paying jobs, you know.

So what has all this brilliant conservation gotten us? Well we got this awesome $80 million dollar pipeline that really only helped our Iowa neighbors get cheaper water that we only use about 10% of the time (because we are mandated to).

So if we really want to talk conservation and lower rates, let’s have this seventh grade math problem conversation. Those who truly conserve should pay on a sliding scale with those who don’t (and I mean a real one). In other words, if the average single family household uses less then that amount each month, they should get a substantial discount, if they don’t they should get a hefty ‘service charge’ for not conserving.

Isn’t that the enduring concept behind ‘conservation’? The less you use, the less you pay? Because the last I checked when I opened up my water bill this last month, there wasn’t a free pair of tickets to see Paul McCartney.

What was that Cotter? 70% on roads?

As a South DaCola foot soldier points out, Public Works director Mark Cotter may have ‘Mispoke’ recently on the Belfrage Show when he said “70% of the 2nd penny is spent on roads. As ‘Warren’ points out, not so fast;

I was also wondering where cotter got that 70% figure for second penny money for streets. Seemed high considering our debt service for playthings.

From page 8 2015 budget.

Street. 47.6%
Debt service. 28.1%
Culture/Rec. 14.3%
Police/Fire. 5.4%
Info/Tech (indoctrination) 2.2%
And a couple more percent split amongst several other departments

From page 8 2016 budget

Street. 51%
Debt service 26.8%
Culture/Rec. 11.2%
Police /Fire. 4.4%
Info/ Tech. 2%

The city has two reserve funds. The general fund is the city’s primary operating fund. This cover department wages, services, day to day functions. Main sources of revenue are the 1st penny tax and property tax.

The CIP is a plan, by department, that list capital projects related to infrastructure costs. The second penny funds this. Does the above look like the intent of the second penny?

Another note. The water reclamation enterprise fund (piggy bank, courtesy of the bills we pay) has 62.4 million in it. The water department has 39 million.

As Stehly has pointed out correctly, we ARE NOT spending enough of the 2nd penny on roads and infrastructure, and our enterprise funds really are turning into a ‘slush fund’ due to the enormous rate increases. Maybe Mark and Finance Director Tracy Turbak need to have a meeting a get on the same page before blasting councilors elect Stehly and Neitzert for pointing out the truth. One of these days the current administration will figure out that that lying thing will eventually bite you in the ass.

 

Sioux Falls City Council Land Use Committee meeting, Dec 15, 2015

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Will this never end? When it does, will it end well? It will but will it be something thousands of Sioux Falls property owners want? Of the 65,000+ properties in our little town on the prairie very likely has 35,000 in violation of the current outdated, old fashioned and very ecologically bad boulevard grassy strip by the street ordinance.

Let’s see, we could prosecute the 35,000+ out of current compliant property owners or find a way to make them compliant and help set easy to follow guidelines for the future.

The first likely path would look something like this: If our city council decides to allow for code enforcement prosecutions, all Hell will fall upon our city leaders. Our current over staffed code enforcement department and city attorney offices would have to grow exponentially to handle the legal load. The wrath of citizens would likely create electoral problems for those trying to stay in office. No amount of illegal process serving will clean up the mess they proceed with. Can you imagine all the trip to the Shopping News to buy little blue bags to illegally hang on door knobs?

A second path would find a way to educate the property owners about safety concerns, encourage sensible plantings for sustainability and encourage creativity. If the city used it’s considerable resources to help the public understand the issues without a strong arm of a government led retribution system we could likely all win.

In our video watch the nuances from both perspectives. Think about how crappy Sioux Falls drivers are in general and how few of our crappy drivers actually are affected by flowers in the property in front of your house or business.

We also hear about drainage issues our fair city chooses to ignore. How many of you have seen the lousy ways our developers remove the thick layers of top soil from new developments and replace it with thin layer to just barely keep the grass growing? Find out what experts are saying about his practice.

By the way, the definitions everyone is using in this video are screwed up. The area bordering the street up to your property pins (to across the street property pins) is city owned and controlled right of way. Shouldn’t we be calling the grassy area between the street and sidewalk something else? How about the right of way or parking strip or parking area or something more logical. The use of the word boulevard is too often confused with the traffic dividing median like used on 21st St by the tennis courts.

Instead of fixing the crappy drainage, the city prefers to just bulldoze the neighborhood

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Curious if the Sioux Falls City Council is authorizing these home purchases or if once again, the city planning and public works office is ‘going rogue’. Heck, I even wonder if the city council knows about it at all?

After heavy rains in August flooded a central Sioux Falls neighborhood, city officials are looking for a permanent way to stem flooding.

Homes along the west side of South Covell Avenue between 28th and 33rd Streets could be torn down to create a green space.

Several homeowners in the neighborhood near Augustana University have been contacted by the City of Sioux Falls with possible offers to purchase their homes.

The city is talking with neighbors first, before releasing a finalized plan. Environmental and Storm Water Manager Andrew Berg said it is a voluntary buyout, and no one will be forced to sell to the city.

And that’s the Huether way, instead of fixing the infrastructure in the modest neighborhoods in Sioux Falls, we prefer to just bulldoze them. Now that’s progress and getting things done! I wonder if this will make MMM’s list of ‘Top 10 Wins of 2015’?

City of Sioux Falls uses Permanone for mosquito spraying

Let’s just say after reading this in a city press release I decided to do a little research;

The City will be using the product Permanone for spray treatments. Products used by the City of Sioux Falls are designed to break down in the environment quickly and are used at very low concentrations. Permanone is a product approved for use by the EPA in residential areas for adult mosquito control.

Sounds harmless, right? Unless you are a small animal, get it on your skin, fish or bees or a vegetable garden or have chickens. Here’s some fun facts about this poison they are spreading throughout the city;

This pesticide is extremely toxic to fish and aquatic invertebrates. Runoff from treated areas or deposition of spray droplets into a body of water may be hazardous to fish and aquatic invertebrates. Do not apply over bodies of water (lakes, rivers, permanent streams, natural ponds, commercial fish ponds, swamps, marshes or estuaries), except when necessary to target areas where adult mosquitoes are present, and weather conditions will facilitate movement of applied material away from the water in order to minimize incidental deposition into the water body. Do not contaminate water when disposing of equipment wash waters.

This pesticide is highly toxic to bees exposed to direct treatment on blooming crops or weeds. Do not apply this product or allow drift when bees are actively visiting the treatment area, except when applications are made to prevent or control a threat to public and/or animal health determined by a state, tribal or local health or vector control agency on the basis of documented evidence of disease causing agents in vector mosquitoes, or the occurrence of mosquito-borne disease in animal or human populations, or if specifically approved by the state or tribe during a natural disaster recovery effort. Applications should be timed to provide the maximum possible interval between treatment and the next period of bee activity.

Do not use, pour, spill or store near heat or open flame.

Do not allow spray treatment to drift onto pastureland, cropland, poultry ranges or potable water supplies. Do not use on crops for food forage or pasture. In treatment of corrals, feed lots, swine lots, and zoos, cover any exposed drinking water, drinking water fountains and animal feed before application.

I guess we got our answer to what the city is using to kill skeeters, but what other harm is it causing?

 

But does the mayor ‘Value’ his street improvements?

More street improvements in Hizzoner’s hood.

There’s been rumors that the street he lives on has been worked on several times since he has been mayor.

It’s good to be King.

nicestreets

While we rob Federal paybacks on Levees for Indoor Pool, we have to borrow money for Sewers

Remember when we got over $11 million back for building the levees? This would have been the perfect project for us to spend the money on;

A massive project to replace a sewer line that carries almost all of Sioux Falls’ wastewater won’t cost taxpayers as much after the state approved more than $30 million in low-interest loans to pay for the work.

The 1.25 percent interest loans offered by the state will be paid back over 10 years.

“On that amount of dollars, that’s a substantial savings,” said Cotter, referring to the higher interest rates associated with traditional loans.

Hey Mark, we could have saved 100% if we would have paid for the project with the Levee repayment fund and surplus in the budget. But that’s right, we need to build playthings, they are more important. Maybe the next time the sewer system threatens a backup, we can use the new indoor pool to store all of the sewage instead of Covell Lake or pouring it down residential streets.

If we truly had a mayor who was concerned about prudence, he would have allocated the money correctly and put the pool on hold. But that would take someone who actually cares about the average tax payer and not himself and the special interests.

BTW, I heard the indoor tennis facility’s membership drive isn’t doing so well. Rough road, isn’t it Mike, when you have to spend your own money on play things? Can we get our $500,000K back please?

$55 dollar water/sewer bill for a trailer home?

Something ain’t right in the trailer park.

As we first reported Tuesday, the companies managing some mobile home communities are getting rid of individual water bills.
This means everyone pays the same amount, no matter how many people live in their household — a policy that has many people mad.
We spoke to Regional Manager Lynn Granata Wednesday. She sent us February’s water and sewer bill.
It was $8,329.27. Divide that by the number of mobile homes in the Pine Meadows Park and it equals the $55 flat rate neighbors are being charged. She says they’re not overcharging.
Why not just replace the meters? My water bill has never been higher then $14 a month. My highest was $25 before I fixed my leaky toilet. The thing that irks me the most about this is the way affordable housing slum lords screw over their tenants, and not because they are making a little extra money on the side (because as mentioned in the story that is illegal) but by being too cheap to fix an obvious problem with the water meter(s). If someone is renting from you, and paying their rent, you have an obligation to repair things that need to be fixed instead passing those maintenance costs onto your tenants.

SON sues SF city council & city

Your’e gonna need a bigger boat.

Boy, if City Attorney Fiddle-Faddle didn’t have enough caramel corn to pick out of his teeth with the assistant city attorney’s trouble, now he could be in hot water over how he advised the city council to vote. This isn’t the first time old Dave has been wrong, remember his advice to fire Debra Owen in secret, that didn’t turn out so well. Now the city council might have taken action before they got approval from the Lincoln County Commission;

The lawsuit, a Petition for Writ of Certiorari and for Writ of Prohibition seeks to enforce state laws that require the City of Sioux Falls to obtain approval from the Lincoln County Board of County Commissioners before attempting to annex agricultural land located in Lincoln County at 85th & Minnesota. The Petition also seeks to suspend further action by the City Council to attempt to rezone the illegally annexed property without first complying with state law.

DejaVu. I kind of wondered that when the council approved annexation and thought it a bit strange they would annex the land before getting Lincoln County approval. The city doesn’t have a very good track record when it comes to trumping state law. They have lost several lawsuits that deal with state law. VL casino regulation, red light cameras and the Dan Daily case. I have told several city councilors that they were not going to give up this fight very easily. It’s too bad WM spent all that money sending out postcards, they should saved it for attorney fees, or better yet, paying their workers better.

I think it is about time the citizens of SF revoke the city HOME RULE charter. It’s not working for us, unless of course you are an attorney contracted by the city.

If you want to read the case it is Civil 13-2218 docket number.