Entries Tagged 'SF City Council' ↓

UPDATE: The Huether Cat is out of the bag, we now know why he wants to increase user fees

At Huether’s budget address today he proposed his 2016 budget, a $64 million dollar increase over 2015 ($471 MILLION). In fact, when Huether took office in 2010 that budget was $337 million, a $134 million dollar jump in just 6 short years. Huether claims it will be covered by revenue, but my question is why not have a little bump from 2015 and use the extra revenue to pay off debt? (our debt service in 2016 will be $39 million). SEE THE DOCUMENT2016 Budget

I guess this explains why Huether has been clamoring to raise user fees, he has a huge wish list for 2016. Seems he is over promising to a lot of folks in town (mostly developers and businesses).

The other ironic part is that this increase could almost cover the county’s entire budget for next year ($71 million), yet they have to do an opt-out (increase our property taxes) to make ends meet.

This is what happens when you elect a marketing VP from the worst predatory CC company in the industry – out of control spending and more debt.

UPDATE: Steve Young updates us on some important quotes from today’s shananigans;

“I look back to when we first went to cameras in the cars and having the officers recorded. A lot of them weren’t real excited about that. I think they looked at it as ‘Big Brother is going to try to catch me doing something,’ ” Barthel said. “The fact of the matter is, a lot of times we’ll get complaints, people accusing our officers of doing something, and all we have to do is pull up the video and look at it. In 99 percent of the cases, it saves their backs. Now they’ve come to rely on it.”

Yet Chief Barthel will not release the audio from the Tuthill shooting incident. Why? Will some backs not be saved? As a County Commissioner said to me tonight, “The more officers the city hires means the more arrests that will be made. What does that mean for our budget?” He also added that the county has had the same number of employees for the past four years. The new 27 city employees will add almost $2 million to salaries next year.

In acknowledging the size of his budget proposal, the mayor encouraged city councilors “to feel good about what you’re doing. Feel good because the citizens, they’re doing well. They’re pleased with our progress.”

In other words, don’t look over here, nothing to see, go back to watching football and eating at Applebees, (and don’t read DaCola) we have this handled. If there was ever a time for more scrutiny of this city government, it is right now and Councilor Erickson nailed it;

“I think over the next few weeks, we’ll definitely be diving into this to see what is needed, what is maybe not needed. … and that we’re growing in a responsible way and not be proud that this is the largest budget in our history,” Erickson said.

I wouldn’t call myself a fiscal prude, I am all for money being spent on infrastructure and roads, parks and social services, but there is a lot of big ticket development projects that smell worse then the Big Sioux River in this budget. Take for instance the idiocy of tearing down and selling a parking ramp for $1 then turning around and building a $10 million dollar ramp.

Based on his first take of the budget, Councilor Dean Karsky acknowledged the large jump but said nothing initially seemed out of line to him.

SF Chamber Board member saw nothing out of line. Imagine that? Oh Dean:(

Is the Taxpayer Funded Events Center concerned about Patron safety?

There have been complaints about ADA compliance, possible drugging by bartenders and even complaints about moldy buns for sandwiches being served. One wonders how many more things we have to hear about before we get solutions, or dispel these rumors;

Just like other employers in Sioux Falls, the PREMIER Center says they struggle to find enough part time staff to work these kinds of events and are always looking to hire more part time staff.

Are they using temp agencies? Is there anything wrong with using them to clean up garbage? Not at all, but they may also be using them for food and beverage preparation, security and other functions.

Let’s face it, it doesn’t take long to train someone how to put garbage in a bag or how to sweep a floor. But safe food and beverage preparation isn’t a 2 minute course. It’s time our city council starts asking some serious questions about the workforce our Events Center is using, and why they are NOT hiring more PERMANENT properly trained part-time help like the Washington Pavilion does.

After the stories and accusations I have heard over the past year, I will NOT eat or drink at any event that is being managed by SMG or OVATIONS, and several of my friends feel the same way, until I get an explanation from them about their training procedures and workforce development.

Sioux Falls City Council Tidbits, 7/28/2015

There is only three fun meetings this week (excluding the regular meeting);

• 3 PM Land Use meeting, finally an update on the Billboard Ordinance changes.

• 4 PM Informational, Indoor Aquatic Center Update, whatever that is.

• 5 PM, Joint City Council/Minnehaha County Meeting, FEMA Map update, complete with 100 new homes in the flood plain in Northeastern Sioux Falls.

NO Plans, NO Budget, but we are hiring a project manager

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Two weeks ago four Sioux Falls city councilors and the mayor (broke tie) to hire a construction manager at risk for a new proposed administration building. The problem is, besides an empty lot next to a porn shop that the city owns, there is no architectural drawings, no budget and no real plan. In layman’s terms, four city councilor’s and the mayor are getting the cart in front of the horse. If you owned a business and wanted to expand or were building your own home you would budget first for a project before hiring a contractor. You would draw up plans and financial timeline. That’s common sense. This is a replay of the indoor pool all over again. The citizens voted down an OUTDOOR pool, that’s it, then a couple of weeks later we were full steam ahead on an indoor pool. This kind of piss poor planning has to end.

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The City Council will have the final say on Pool Rates

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The Sioux Falls Park Board kinda met on July 21, 2015 in a very small meeting room in the headquarters building. Not only is it hard for the public to find these meetings but apparently the board members have problems driving down to them. Five of the members called in to join them. We guess it’s alright but it would have been better is it was televised on CityLink and internet so all could really join in.

Cameraman Bruce was able to get a very clear and concise answer from the board concerning the proposed pool rate hikes. “Let’s park the decision with the City Council and get it out of here!” (FF: 7:00 )

So it’s up to the Council to make the final rate decisions. If you want to make a difference you have to show-up. If you want to be part of the solution you have to be there. If you want to change bad policy you have to use your voice and body to show your election officials you want answers.

Update on SIRE, 7/21/2015

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Comparing Sioux Falls proposed Transit Fee hikes with Ft. Collins, CO

The city of Sioux Falls is proposing bus fee hikes (Item #21-1st Reading)

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Let’s compare our fare increases to Ft. Collins current fees.

• It is called “TransFort”

• Ft. Collins population is about 150,000.

• Find it at www.ridetransfort.com
• The basic fare is $1.25. The 31-day fare is $25.
• Children and college students ride free all year. (Colleges pitch in for this, I think.)
• Transfers are free.
• They have a program called BRT (Bus Rapid Transit), a modern system that gets bus routes connected faster. Their BRT”MAX” has free wifi, and its stops have screens showing arrival time.  There is comprehensive coverage of the city, unlike our routes provide.
• It’s not perfect, but the Ft.Collins system provides far more value to its riders for their $1.25 than our bus system can do next year for $1.50.
The proposed bus fares in Sioux Falls are too high considering the service available on SAM (even as wonderful as our buses and drivers and passengers are). I have been to Ft. Collins and plan on visiting again soon. Yes, it has a large college there, but the size of the city is comparable, but it is much more progressive (oh, and Mary Jane is legal there). When I visited I was impressed by the progressiveness of the transportation options.

UPDATE: I lost what little shred of confidence I had in getting an honest answer from the city of Sioux Falls IT department

UPDATE: The webcam is now working in several browsers (12:30 PM, 7/22/2015) when I posted this over an hour ago it was not.

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This is what the indoor aquatic center construction looks like at night, and during the day to.

A few months ago I ran into a guy at my neighborhood watering hole, he introduced himself and said, “You’re that South DaCola guy.” Then he proceeded to tell me a long story about how he worked for the city of Sioux Falls IT department. He quit after a short period of time because his manager accused him of being ‘too ambitious’ on a project he was assigned, because he was actually solving problems and doing it in a very timely manner. He basically concluded to me he couldn’t work in that kind of environment. See programmers are SUPPOSED to be doing exactly that, solving problems. Apparently they go by a different philosophy working in the city’s IT department.

Last night at the informational meeting one of the supervisors came up to explain the problems with SIRE and that a new operating system should be working by August 4th. Great news. He also told us that the webcam for the indoor aquatic center construction site IS working, but may not work on all devices.

It’s not working on any device. After the meeting I tried it on a PC and a MAC and an I-Phone. I used several web browsers (Firefox, Chrome, Explorer & Safari). No luck. The webcam is working on city computers (I’m assuming because it is hooked up through the intranet network with the city, but they haven’t created a stream out of the firewall for the internet). Wouldn’t a web programmer check that before going live with it?

Also, the gentleman was questioned about the editing of SIRE videos. He said that they have not edited any videos. Yet we have shown that one of the recent videos was edited/altered or corrupted twice. Either that or they really have some issues with data storage, and funny how the ‘hiccups’ in the video happened at the exact same time.

It worries me a little that people of this kind of incompetence are running our city’s IT department. They are in charge of more things then just council meeting videos and webcams. They have to make sure the city’s public safety, accounting, traffic control and building services systems are working. If they can’t get a simple webcam to work, one wonders how these other systems are working?

Sioux Falls Council Meeting Tidbits (7/21/2015)

At the Land Use meeting we will get an update on the Billboard review commission.

At the informational we get an update about SIRE. Hopefully they will tell us that it will be working soon.

The council meeting is full of all kinds of specialness;

Items#12-13 gives us an update on all the people they had to mow and trim trees for. What I find ironic about this is we had to make this a part of the public record (which is fine) but we have yet to receive a full audit on who built the Events Center and a list of ALL of the contractors and what they were paid. But hey, at least we know we had to charge Joe Bob Smith $23 to mow his grass.

Items#21-33 lots of important 1st readings. Including transit fare increases, a TIF update, and many rezoning items.

Item#34 is a resolution of legislative priorities by the council. While I agree with some of the legislation suggestions, a lot of it is will-nilly and never could become law, for instance;

The Sioux Falls City Council supports cooperative activities between county and municipal governments, the protection of existing joint activities, and elimination of barriers that hinder the creation of such arrangements.

There is nothing currently preventing the two entities from working together. It is a matter of will not law.

Will the City of Sioux Falls & Lincoln County work together to get the 85th Interchange completed sooner rather than later?

As I told a couple of journalists the other night, I could give a flying monkey circus whether the project gets done or not in 2016. We need another retail park area in the Sioux Falls like we need (figurative) holes in our heads.

But there are some hurdles.

The benefits of the city annexing this land with the project proponent’s timeline could mean millions in sales tax revenue. The bad part is we have to pay for the infrastructure upgrades. A city official said to me the other day;

“So does the state want Sioux Falls to build infrastructure at the new proposed Foundation Park or at this project?”

He made the assumption that the city doesn’t have the money to do both projects at once and that is why the timeline for annexation was extended by the city. I guess that is understandable, but I am a bit skeptical, especially when you have Erica Beck from the Lloyd Companies stating that the 2018 timeline change to 2020 literally in a couple of days. Makes you wonder?

There is also a deep distrust of another CID in South Dakota. Dakota Dunes has been nothing but a pain in the ass of state and federal taxpayers. A bunch rich folk tax dodgers set up a community on a river bottom that is infamous for flooding . . . A LOT! Then they come running to the taxpayers and the National Guard to bail their asses out. I guess they want all the benefits of being a responsible taxpayer, they just don’t want to pay for it. I still think that FEMA and the National Guard should have sent them all a bill.

This brings us to a similar issue at this location. Though the environmental studies still have to be conducted, the same city official I talked to said there may be issues with ground water and low lying land. Which can be solved – WITH A LOT OF FREAKING DIRT!

Now let’s talk about the ‘political’ aspects of the project. First off, we know the GOED office and The Mayor’s office are not exactly a ‘winning team’. After Foundation Park was announced a different city official said to me;

“Foundation Park is getting done IN SPITE of Mayor Huether

In other words, the state really had to reign him in, or basically leave him out of the process. Don’t know how much of that is true, because I find city and state officials bickering to be useless pitter patter, but if you are expecting the state, the county and the city to get all on the same page and timeline on this matter, well, you are a dreamer. But hey, isn’t our Mayor’s motto, “Sioux Falls, we are getting things done!” (as long as I can take credit for it).

Then there is the developer side of this story. They could care less who gets credit as long as they are rolling in the dough, the problem is, there are more than one big wheel in town, and a couple of those wheels were NOT at the meeting on Tuesday. Of course the Big ‘L’ made an appearance, but I didn’t see anyone from Bender or RMB. Maybe they were helping the proposed Southside move dirt or something. It is no secret that some people in power with the city have made investments with some of these big wheels, and it seems some of these projects get on a fast track quicker than others. Quinky-Dink? Perhaps, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

So there you have it, questionable land, questionable funding, questionable politicians and developers and all kinds of ethical and priority issues. If this gets done by the end of 2016 (as a county/city partnership) it will be nothing short of a miracle, but hey stranger things have happened, we got a new Events Center built in record timing (just watch for the falling siding).