Entries Tagged 'Public Works' ↓

City Junk Truck sits in park for over 3 weeks

Funny, as a homeowner you are not allowed to have non-operable vehicles in front of your house or in your driveway, but apparently the city can just park them in a park (Frank Olson) for weeks at a time. Maybe someone should call code enforcement. Oh, that’s right, the city doesn’t have to follow it’s own rules.

Inside Town Hall, the water rate increase ‘The Fix is In’

Retaining wall at 300 North Duluth Avenue still not fixed

A South DaCola foot soldier told me this retaining wall fell down months ago and still nothing has been done to clean it up let alone start to rebuild it. The stone wall fell onto city property and now the area is blocked off with plastic fence. They have school kids needing to walk to school in about three weeks. We also have winter weather coming. I think it would be interesting to hear just where this is with the city. Remember the city was warned that this wall would probably fall over and did nothing to stop it, now they are doing nothing to fix it. I guess they are more concerned about making sure a hotel is built downtown.

How long did Sioux Falls Public Works know about the $260 Million dollar water plant expansion

Several city councilors have told me they have known little about the water reclamation expansion until after Former Mayor Bucktooth & Bowlcut left office. They have admitted that there was mention that the expansion WAS coming, but the price tag and water rate increases were NOT talked about.

The latest proposal is to increase our rates by 6% each year for the next 3 years and 3% every year after that. We will see how the council debates this proposal. My suggestion would be to bond $160 from the enterprise funds and $100 from the 2nd Penny to spread out the bond payment costs. In reality, the 2nd Penny should pay all of this since technically this is infrastructure/capital.

It is very curious that the pricetag was NOT talked about in the final months of the last administration’s term. Did he ask his Public Works director and finance department to embargo the information over the past year so he could justify bonding for the Administration building, parking ramp and $25 million dollar bond payment for Lewis & Clark? We can only imagine the answer to that question. I would suspect that the Public Works Department has known for at least the past two years this was coming AND it would be very expensive. Funny how this got dumped into TenHaken’s lap after Bucktooth did all his monument building. Go figure. Not to mention the $50 million dollar jail and $190 million School Bond.

If I was the city council I would grill Mr. Cotter on how long he knew about this expansion and the possible costs. Following orders to keep something a secret from Bucktooth is unacceptable.

City of Sioux Falls Water Treatment Plant Expansion; Lots of Questions

Before we go off the deep end and spend $260 million for an expansion of the water treatment plant, some major unknowns need to be answered;

The city says we are at 82% Capacity. How long did it take us to get there? How many more years before we are at capacity? How long will it take to build the expansion? Can we draw this expansion out over 5-10 years, doing incremental changes?

What percentage of treatment is used for nearby towns that contract Sioux Falls to treat their water? Can we increase their rates significantly?

What is our true population growth? And how does that breakdown? How many newborns? Retirees, immigrants, new people/families? How many from neighboring towns that already use our treatment plant?

Why are we using the enterprise funds for capital improvements? Shouldn’t this be for operations and maintenance? Why not use 2nd penny funds to pay down bonds of new plant?

As you can see, we have a lot of big questions that need answers before we decide to move forward with the new plant.

Water Rates going up? That’s news to me.

Apparently Councilor Rick Kiley has a crystal ball, because he is predicting our water and sewer rates are going up;

“They foresee a possible increase of about $2 per month for a family of five,” city councilor Rick Kiley said.

Kiley says the city knew this day was coming.

“You never want to raise rates, but in a situation like this where we are at 82% capacity today, we have a community that’s growing by 5,000 people every year and we are bringing on regional customers in addition to that it’s the prudent thing to do now is to expand our existing facilities,” Kiley said.

The city council will be voting on the funding this project when it passes the city budget in October.

While I agree we need to fix up a 1980’s water treatment plant, if we didn’t switch the rates over to enterprise funds we could easily pay the bonds with 2nd penny CIP revenue without raising fees. But see, former mayor Bucktooth & Bowlcut wanted to free up the 2nd penny from paying for silly old water pipes, and use it for paying down bonds for monument building.

So now our taxes are going up for a new jail, and Minnehaha county admitted at their Tuesday meeting (Commissioner Barth) that there will likely be another opt out, put that on top of a 25 year around $300 million dollar new school bond and our already existing $300 million city debt, and things are going to get a lot more expensive in Sioux Falls, including taking a dump.

Better strap down the load next time

A South DaCola foot soldier sent me this today and said, “Isn’t it city ordinance to strap down your load?” I guess a city truck lost this new traffic light out the back of their truck while trying to make a yellow light. Oh the irony. I also heard a rumor today that directors have been telling the new mayor that their departments are ‘broke’ and don’t have any money for new projects. Maybe RC would like to borrow us $130 million?

Sioux Falls City Council needs to reform Project TRIM, ASAP!

The Emerald Ash Bore will soon be chomping down on trees all over Sioux Falls, it’s inevitable. Some of those trees are in city parks and in the city owned parking strips (boulevards) throughout the city.

In the above video, City of Sioux Falls Parks Director Kearney explains that the city will ultimately have to eliminate most of those Ash trees. The city seems to be taking a proactive approach to the problem.

This would be a perfect opportunity for the city council to tackle Project TRIM reform. During the last municipal campaign, Janet Brekke recommended that Project TRIM gets tied in with other city cleanup projects like KEEP & NICE (Brekke created these programs when she was city attorney). Not only could the city take over Project TRIM and take care of the trees they own in the Boulevard they could tie it in with the elimination of Ash trees in the boulevard.

I think the Parks and Rec and the Forestry divisions of Sioux Falls should come up with a 5 year plan to not only eliminate these trees before they are attacked by the bore, but also trim the other trees in the boulevard. It will be costly up front, but once the city goes through a second 5 year cycle it will get less expensive.

Maybe our Health Care Mega-Plexes should partner with Paratransit instead?

While it’s nice that Sanford has money for liquor licenses, suite’s at the Denty, Sports Bars, Basketball arenas and now a tourist trolley, shouldn’t Sanford & Avera be looking at a private/public partnership with Paratransit?

“We’re always proud to support services in our communities,” said Paul Hanson, Sanford Health executive vice president. “We know how much visitors love the Sioux Falls trolley service and couldn’t be happier to support it.”

While that’s great, I just wish our health systems would focus on ‘health’. I think a partnership with the hospitals and paratransit could be inked. Besides, I think the Trolley should be paid for out of the CVB’s BID Tax, but I guess they refuse. Well at least Sanford is fulfilling one empty promise from the former mayor and the CVB;

The trolleys also will be available as a shuttle service between downtown and the Denny Sanford Premier Center for major events throughout the year.

Premier Center entertainment district here we come!

Is it okay for city employees to talk on cell phones while driving city vehicles?

We’ve all seen it. A city employee driving a city vehicle and talking on their cell phone (I have even seen them running a snowplow and smoking while talking on a cell phone – now that’s talent!)

While I haven’t given it much thought, because I talk on my phone while driving, even though I try not to, I wondered what the city policy on this is. I would think that it would be OK if they were conducting city business, I guess it is NOT permitted unless it is an emergency situation.

According to city policy;

    1. Mobile phones or any other electronic device, City-owned and personal, shall not be used (including calls, text messages, email, social media, and any Internet usage) while operating vehicles or equipment while on City business, except for communications by Police and Fire personnel when it is not practical to stop the vehicle due to performance of their duties and Public Works/other City employees involved in snow removal operations.

And;

The use of tobacco products by City employees and customers, contractors, or others doing City business is prohibited in all City-owned and City-shared buildings, facilities, vehicles, parking lots, equipment, worksites, and walkways leading into City facilities.

I want the city council to think about this the next time they want to put more regulations on us.