Entries Tagged 'SF City Council' ↓

The City’s CIP to pay for a portable stage for the Events Center?

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If you look at the consent agenda for Tuesday night’s city council meeting you will see there is an expenditure for a portable stage for the Events Center for $197K. I questioned a city official as to why this wasn’t put in the Events Center budget, they said because the stage was being shared with the Convention Center.

And this is how you build a $115 million dollar events center.

I have a feeling if we ever got to see the books on the events center project we would see money flowing from all kinds of departments into the building. But hey, no money for Paratransit.

 

SF City Council Public Input 9/9/14

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City Government Time Machine; Platting Fee Boondoggle, 9/15/08

Last night at the regular city council meeting a citizen brought up the failure of the platting fee idea to raise money for arterial roads, and he ultimately said ‘It should be repealed’.

I couldn’t agree more, it has been a complete failure, the plan that is.

In reality when the plan was proposed on September 15, 2008 (watch the meeting here).

It may have sounded good. It was simple, they would raise the 2nd penny tax to a full penny to help pay for arterial roads. The second part of the plan was what made it attractive. While raising the penny would help pay for 40% of the arterial roads, the developers would chip in 60% in platting fees.

That HAS not occurred. In fact they haven’t even come close to probably 4-5%. And while over the past 6 years the citizen taxpayers were putting in their share, the developers have contributed very little. Heck even a few years ago, a developer complained at a council meeting that the city wasn’t holding up their end of the deal by not building enough arterial roads like they promised. This developer was told, and rightly so, once the developers hold up their part of the deal the city would chip in.

When ever this is brought up (the terms we were sold) the developers have all kinds of excuses;

• The economy took a dump

(at the meeting that night, one proponent brought up the economy tanking, in fact that day, the dow dropped a record amount. The economy downturn was ALL over the news, but somehow SF developers thought they were immune. Ask them today about that immunity)

• They claimed they never said they would put in 60%

(over the past six years I have heard this LIE. Repeatedly during the above meeting the proponents said over and over again they would put in 60%. There was even a taxpayer funded website the city put up called movingsiouxfallsforward.org that claimed this amount.

• Public Works Director, Mark Cotter even repeated the plan

(He told Staggers in the meeting (1:06) that the plan was that the CIP would put in $35 million, the 2nd penny raise would put in $20 million and the developers would put in $30 million over the following 6 years. That has not even been a reality, not even close.

• As one opponent points out during testimony, there was nothing in the proposal to ‘legally bind’ the developers to put in what they promised. Nothing.

• And now that the economy has turned around and building is booming in Sioux Falls, will developers give us back pay on these platting fees to at least match what taxpayers had to put in (during an economic downturn) Of course not, just more excuses.

• The vote went down 4-4 with Munson breaking the tie and voting for the increase. Councilors Staggers, Costello, Beninga, Anderson voted against the increase and Councilors Brown, Knudson, Litz and Jamison voted for the increase.

• Even though this plan did fail, and the developers haven’t put their fair share in over the last 6 years, it hasn’t stunted growth at all. Why? Because once again, the taxpayers of SF have been bailing out the developers.

Some ‘Other’ highlights of the meeting;

• Mayor Munson gaveling me at the beginning of the meeting during public testimony when I made the accusation that the ethics commission were puppets for the administration. After he chews me out and tells me they are independent, I asked him, “But you appointed them? Correct?” He answered yes.

• Vernon Brown flipped his vote. When this first came up months earlier, Vern voted against it, this night he voted for it.

• Kermit points out that they weren’t following the proper state law to pass the platting fees (taxes) and should not even been voting on it.

• All the Proponents got to go first to testify, while the opponents had to wait almost 2 1/2 hours, instead of alternating speakers.

• Another funny moment was when Bill Peterson told Staggers that people weren’t flocking to move to Minot, ND to live anytime soon.

OTHER LINKS:

My KELO interview a year after the tax increase

DaCola Links

Council fixes problem mayor created

I don’t whether to applaud the council, or just ask them what took so damn long? After watching the Mayor’s press conference about Van Eps park, and all the back patting he received last night at the council meeting for being ‘engaged’ in the Van Eps process, I just have to remind people of a few things.

1) Mayor Huether is the one who put more picnic tables and porta-potties at Van Eps, in an essence, attracting the bees.

2) Instead of removing the benches and bathrooms when he saw problems arise down there, he left them.

3) Instead of issuing an emergency executive order to ban alcohol temporarily, until the council had time to look at the issue he sat on his hands and waited for the Parks Board and City Council to fumble through the ordinance process, which took a couple of months.

4) Even now that the alcohol is banned, the SFPD and the administration have no plan when the drinkers move.

I have said all along the implementation of a drinking park had nothing to do with the safety or care of the attendees, this had to do with Downtown developers complaining about the homeless drunks around their businesses.

Will we find out about the Spellerberg Quit Claim deed tomorrow?

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I hope the VA doesn’t take our pool away

At Tuesday’s city council informational meeting, we may finally be finding out about the quit claim deed at Spellerberg. (Item B).

The Parks Department and their legal counsel (Woods Fuller) will be making a presentation on the indoor pool contracts (there is no PDF’s of what the presentation will be yet on the city website, you know, that transparency thing).

It will be curious if they got the quit claim deed resolved, or if they think they can just steam ahead without VA approval. I know the Feds don’t work in the lightning speed our Mayor does, so my guess is that a resolution has yet to be made.

Hopefully at least one of the city councilors will be awake at the meeting and ask about the deed, then let the Mexican Hat dance begin.

I’ll bring the chips, who is bringing the salsa?

City Council plans to rearrange meeting schedule so Karsky can have a conflict of interest

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I want my goat and I want to eat it to.

I guess councilor Dean Karsky still doesn’t see a conflict of interest with serving on the Chamber of Commerce Board and the City Council at the same time. He is going as far as to get the city council to change the meeting schedule in October so he can attend the Chamber’s annual meeting (Item #12).

So let’s rearrange seven of the councilor’s normal schedules so ONE city councilor can attend a meeting that presents a clear conflict of interest. Why not ask the Chamber of Commerce to change their schedule?

The Ethics Commission (Kangaroo Kourt) contends there is NO conflict because Karsky will excuse himself from voting on anything doing with the Chamber. So I guess when any business that is a Chamber Member comes fourth Karsky will be excusing himself, yeah right. What is even more troubling is will Karsky excuse himself from non-chamber members asking for a license or permit that are in direct competition with a chamber member? If Karsky truly keeps his word on excusing himself, he won’t be voting very often, might as well just sit in the front room of Carnegie and watch the council meeting on TV, or better yet, just resign from the Council, the Chamber can have you.

I am wondering when Dean is going to pull some ethics out of his butt and realize this is a very bad idea to be serving on both boards. Of course, he has probably been mentoring Mr. Ethical himself, Mayor Mike.

No Walking allowed to the George McGovern School

In one of the strangest decisions that I have seen the SF School District make, they seem to be sending out ‘walking’ police if kids are ‘trying’ to walk home from the McGovern school. Maybe they are afraid they will get ran over by those pesky rabbits and deer we have roaming on the outskirts of town;

The end of the school day is carefully orchestrated at George McGovern Middle School.

About 12 buses pull up alongside the school, and teachers help make sure each of the about 740 kids gets on one of them. While they do that, they also keep an eye out for students trying to walk home — which isn’t allowed at the new middle school in the northwestern corner of Sioux Falls.

Still, some slip through during the rush of pickup, and when they do, officials call their parents.

Oh My! Kids are walking and getting exercise! I thought we needed to build an indoor pool because kids don’t get enough exercise? Hope they remember to build sidewalks by the new indoor pool.

This has to be one of the dumbest things I have heard the school district do. Of course, they are a little nervous considering no one thought of building sidewalks to the new school. So who would be liable if one of these gung-ho fitness freaks decides to walk home and gets hit by a car? Well that’s a very good question McFly;

But more than the debate about walking to school is the argument about who is responsible for what when the city annexes an area such as McGovern — sometimes called a flagpole annexation. The new territory, 40 acres for the school, is connected only by a thin strip of land.

Another genius move by our planning department (they are often making genius moves, like trying to allow a 85,000 square foot super-center retailer build on a parcel of land that will have ONLY ONE access point).

Minnehaha County commissioners worry the annexation took away county money in the form of building permits. The city argues they invested millions in improving infrastructure in the area. Meanwhile, the school must wait to see about sidewalks in the area.

District and Minnehaha County officials are not responsible for putting in sidewalks — that’s the city’s job, they say. And as for the strip of Maple that falls under the city’s purview, it ends at the school. City officials say they have no immediate plans to make the road more pedestrian-friendly.

Of course, this could all be alleviated easily if the District and the City ponied up and built a simple asphalt trail (similiar to the bike trail, offset from the main road about 5-10 feet). It could easily be a walking or bike bath that would be relatively inexpensive, and our public works department has the equipment to install it. Heck, the District’s policies even require it. But who follows rules these days? That’s just silly talk.

District policy asks officials to “provide safe walking routes to school throughout the district” and “accommodate growth and change” when determining a school’s attendance boundaries.

No plans have been made for a sidewalk along Maple or that section of Marion, City Planner Jeff Schmitt said.

“We’ll build it as it gets built up out there,” Schmitt said.

Oh, but we had to make sure we plowed ahead with the flagpole annexation so we could get that building permit money and skirt rules (mostly to skirt rules), because if the city is good at one thing in the planning department, it is having a separate set of rules for each development, as Jeff ‘Malt’ Schmitt has said before, planning and zoning in Sioux Falls is ‘fluid’ (in the alcohol sense of course) and we just don’t see the need of flowing money into a poorer neighborhood to build sidewalks for the kids. Heck, people would start thinking we are making these decisions when they are drunk.

Then comes the pesky hippies and their talk about ‘exercise’ and ‘walking’;

McGovern students might benefit from their new building, but sidewalks ensure safety, promote healthy activity and give them a face-to-face interaction with the community, Orcutt said.

“They have a shoulder and then they have ditch,” Orcutt said. “With George McGovern, it’s addressed one issue, but it needs to address another one.”

Oh no, don’t start using logic with the city and school district, that will confuse the f’ck out of them. Their only logic is ‘if someone can make money from building sidewalks out there, then we will approve it.’ This isn’t about whether kids are safe or healthy, this was about city greed, plain and simple.

Studies show a correlation between students walking to school and faring well in class, said Lenore Skenazy, author of the book “Free Range Kids” and a blog by the same name.

Did the study include how much money is being made for the city when these kids walk to school?

Parsley, 39, said he wants to push for a “complete streets policy,” which would require all new buildings be made accessible to walkers and bikers.

“I would love to keep banging the gong for McGovern, but what it really boils down to is changing the policy for the entire city,” Parsley said.

Another logical fellar chimes in, as I have said, this wasn’t about a Walmart coming in, it was about a school, and there is NO opportunity for the city to make money from building sidewalks. Though I do totally agree with your idea, even if the city implemented it, they may not always follow it, it goes back to them picking and choosing what rules they want to follow, and if they have been drinking that day.

Complaints from community members caught the attention of at least one Minnehaha County official, even though the county is not responsible for sidewalks.

Commissioner Jeff Barth brought the matter up at an Aug. 26 meeting, deflecting blame from some comments he saw online.

Actually he said comments he saw on ‘South DaCola’ but gawd forbid the Argus gives me any promotion for starting a community conversation about it (actually, KDLT did the original story, or was it KSFY, I get them confused). Immediately after I watched the meeting, I called Commissioner Barth and we discussed what can be done, and that is when Barth mentioned the asphalt path. Jeff also had this to say about the city in the meeting;

 “Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me,” Barth said. “We’ll just have to keep an eye on their activities better.”

Yes, after watching the city council meetings for over 10 years, I have learned you have to watch them like a hawk, they are constantly trying to slip things by, the EC siding is a great example of them trying to skirt transparency and informing the public, and they pulled it with the sidewalk issue.

Meanwhile, the district was able to pay the city $50,000 for a building permit, instead of paying the county’s rate of 1 percent of the project cost, Barth said. The 177,000-square-foot middle school cost about $20 million.

“That befuddles me,” Schmitt said. “The school district might have a concern about the value of a building permit. We don’t.”

The district might have saved on permit costs, but the city spent more preparing the rural site for the new school, Schmitt said. Workers installed water mains, street lights, sewers and storm drainage. They also repaved Maple, adding a turn lane, all for a combined cost of about $1.2 million.

And after doing all of that infrastructure improvements it didn’t occur to anyone in the Planning Department to build either a sidewalk or a walking path to the school? As even Scooby Doo would say after the first week of school started, ‘What Whoa Waggy.”

And the planning department’s mental (midget) counterparts have also chimed in with a solution (that makes no sense);

“So what the school district has done is we have made a commitment to bus 100 percent of the students to school,” Alberty said.

Which is costing them an extra $29,000 a year, which would pay for a lot of asphalt.

So what is the city, the county and the district’s solution to the current problem?

District officials are counting on similar growth near McGovern, which they say will bring sidewalks and conditions safe enough for students to bike or walk to school.

Give it time. Maybe the sidewalks will grow themselves. I think Menard’s has some sidewalk seeds on sale right now. Now that’s an education system at it’s finest finding a solution. But we must forgive them, their job is really to teach NOT TO learn (from their mistakes).

SF City Council Public Input 9/2/14 (Dumb and Dumber)

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Sometimes the City Council gets it right . . . sometimes

As I have watched this city government over the years, I often get suspicious when they do the exact opposite of what they normally do (Item #31). Usually they rubberstamp developer plans and kind of thumb their noses at individual property owners. Last night they took a left turn, denying a new development;

After being deferred twice over the summer, a proposed 17-lot development is receiving scrutiny after neighbors just to the south feel that they’ve been misled about what would be done near their homes.

“I’m a little confused because I thought the reason this got deferred twice was that Mr. Cooper was working on a solution for our questions and concerns, but I haven’t seen that so far,” homeowner Todd Miller said.

The Canterbury Heights neighborhood has one main road that is used as an entrance and an exit, which both homeowners and city council members see as a major safety concern.

“All of you guys are nice guys and you work really hard and you do great things for the city, but I am so disappointed for how these people have been treated, I can hardly say,” council member Michelle Erpenbach said.

“It’s unfortunate, these homeowners have had to live in a half-developed development, and they’re going to have to stay that way until many years,” council member Greg Jamison said.

On a vote of 1 to 7, the new development was rejected. Neighbors and city council members hope to work together to make sure an additional major access road is added. At that point, the additional development would likely be submitted again.

First off, who is Erpenbach talking about? The developers or the city staff? Probably both. It seems the planning department tried to pull another fast one and ramrod a project through without due diligence, they even roped a city fire marshal into going along with it. No doubt, the council was right to deny this development until the roads are completed to the existing development. A two track dirt road doesn’t count as an access road, in my opinion, only an emergency escape, when maintained.

But there are some factors to consider, and maybe why Staggers voted for the project. As I have said in the past, when you build your home on the edge of the city’s boonies, you can’t expect all the amentities that go with it, no matter what you have been told by the builder. But the existing development was promised finished roads. Here lies the problem. What incentive does the developer have to finish these roads? Will they finish them simply so they can move forward with the new development? Maybe, but that’s a gamble. I believe the city council’s denial only set the taxpayers of Sioux Falls up to finish the roads out there. This could have been solved before it got this far. The Planning Department and Planning Commission could have required the builder to finish roads while building the new development as a stipulation/package. As far as I can tell, that didn’t happen. Maybe I am completely wrong (and often I am) but I think this denial is only going to cost the rest of us, not the developer. Sometimes I feel sorry for the city council, because they are often given very little information before a vote, and when they do vote, it is too late to fix the initial problems with the planned development. We can partially blame the mayor’s office and the departments he manages, but the council should have a little personal responsibility in this by researching these projects before they vote.

Lately I have been watching the Minnehaha County Commission meetings, they operate much differently than the city council. When they need answers they drag the department heads in front of them and ask them. If they don’t have the answers, they defer projects until those departments give them answers. The city council should have done the same, and maybe some of them did, and were misled by city directors hell bent on protecting their own asses and jobs and doing what the boss tells them to do.

This is no way to legislate a city, and last night was proof of it. When government is transparent in their processes everyone leaves happy, the winners and losers, sometimes.

Little details and NO inked deal with Feds, but hey, we’re getting a kiosk!

There has been little to no talk about the Rail Relocation project over the past 6 months. I have even pulled the ear of a couple of local reporters to see if they have heard anything. Nope. There was a mention in the 2015 budget of a fence. But that is about it. Now comes a Kiosk for the project in the consent agenda today at the council meeting.

Rail Relocation/Railroad Interpretive Kiosk; Confluence $ 5,100

So what has been going on? Are the Feds ready to ink a deal with the city and the railroads? How much has it been appraised for? What are we paying for it? How much money are the Feds going to give us? It’s nice we are blowing tax dollars on a Kiosk for a project that hasn’t been inked yet with the Feds.

What is going on? Is there a Federal investigation going on? It certainly would not be uncommon for the Feds to audit the process before handing over $30 million dollars, in fact it would be expected of them to do so. So who would do this investigation? The IRS? The FBI? The months of silence on this project is eerie.