Entries Tagged 'Public Works' ↓

Update on the origination of the 2nd Penny

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After digging around through some news articles, it seems the 2nd penny (and zoned snow removal) came to fruition in 1983 due to the efforts of the first female elected city commissioner Loila Hunking, who was in charge of public works. The 2nd penny was supposed to be ‘temporary’.

While Hunking was re-elected in 1986 to the commission, she was defeated in 1989, and in that short 6 years, the 2nd penny already became permanent, and one of it’s first projects that wasn’t dedicated to streets was cleaning up Falls Park.

I have not seen Loila in years. I first met her in 1992 while working for late state legislator Pat Pilcher at her print shop downtown in the former Lewis Drug.

Loila is an amazing person. Many of my political opinions about abortion and women’s fair pay were shaped around listening to Pat and Loila chew the fat.

Maybe someone needs to hook up a DaCola interview with her?

Let’s have a REAL discussion about Enterprise Funds

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“I’m giving it all I got Captain, but I’m afraid the EC won’t be profitable this year.”

Here’s an idea I would like to pitch to DaCola readers; let’s expand the use of enterprise funds.

You are probably asking what the hell I am talking about?

Let’s look at the city’s argument behind using enterprise funds for water and sewer, they feel the ‘users’ should pay for these infrastructure upgrades instead of coming from the 2nd penny (what they are not telling you is that they want to also use the funds to build NEW infrastructure, like Foundation Park, that has little to do with normal maintenance, operations and upgrades.)

It’s not a bad concept, so why not apply it to other entities in Sioux Falls government? Why not pay to play at these facilities also;

• City Golf Courses

• Swimming Pools (especially the indoor pool)

• The Arena, Orpheum, Washington Pavilion and especially the Events Center.

Why not take the fees from users and put that money into a fund that helps pay for maintenance and even debt service? Not only does it make sense, the tax payers would truly see just how valuable our quality of life projects are to us.

In fact, I don’t think the city golf courses have ever lost money, maybe tie all the Parks Department entities that charge fees together (Golf, Swim and Great Bear).

Then at the end of each year, each of the funds could ‘borrow’ or be subsidized by the 2nd penny if they come up short. This would show us a true ‘balance sheet’ and go along with that whole ‘transparency in government’ thingy.

What do you think?

 

Water Rate Increases, scripted in the bathroom stall

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Who will replace Darrin Smith? Or will there be a replacement?

While studying the city management salary increases over the past five years, we came across some interesting title changes. People were hop-scotching back and forth between the public works department and engineering. Not sure if this had to do with pay adjustments or what. It kind of looked like an accounting game.

Either way, there seems to be a discussion going on similar in the community development office. Will Darrin Smith have to be replaced or will restructuring of the department eliminate a Czar of community development?

With the new council rolling in, and the change of rules when appointing department heads (council must also approve the mayoral appointment of the director, no matter the size of the department). Could be interesting to see what kind of extra duties some of the other directors may have to take on to avoid a mayoral appointment.

Of course this wouldn’t be the first time the mayor would be playing hard and fast with the rules.

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.

 

Stehly VS. Cotter, Greg Belfrage show, 8 AM Thursday (4/21/2016)

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Councilor Elect Theresa Stehly and Public Works Director Mark Cotter will be on Belfrage’s show KELO AM 1320 talking about the water/sewer increases. Greg will turn on the phones for public comment at 8:30 AM. Should be interesting.

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.

Boulevard Landscape Ordinance to be discussed w/Public Input

MEETING ON TUESDAY, DECEMBER 15TH AFTER 4:00 COUNCIL INFORMATIONAL MEETING

CARNEGIE TOWN HALL, Council requesting public input!

A proposed ordinance could affect hundreds of property owners who have landscaping in the boulevard area. Councilman Greg Jamison is putting together an ordinance which will address this issue. Many homeowners and businesses have worked to beatify this strip of land between the curb and the sidewalk. This ordinance could mandate that this landscaping be ripped out.

Areas that may be targeted are: medium to tall grasses, rocks of any kind, large boulders, mailboxes and landscaping by the driveway, corner plantings, fencing and shrubs on either side of the sidewalk, pavers and flowers. Several council members have told me that if this ordinance passes, the city will also be required to remove the rocks, daylilies, grasses and Russian Sage on city property. This would include the area by the downtown-library and the McKennan Park Boulevard.

Please call the men on the Land Use Committee and let them know how you feel about this effort. They are:

Greg Jamison 310-1930

Kenny Anderson261-5132

Kermit Staggers 376-4056

Rick Kiley 367-8102

It also would be beneficial if you called the representative for your district and the Mayor. You can get this information from the city clerk’s office 367-8081

There is a Land use committee meeting scheduled for Tuesday, December 15th, after the 4:00 Council informational meeting.  The meeting will be at the Carnegie Town Hall.  Watch the Argus for further updates. They have assured me that they will cover this issue.

Theresa Stehly, 332-1363

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’?