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Sioux Falls City Council Agenda, Nov 20, 2018

Informational Meeting • 4 PM

Presentations on;

October Financial Report & update to the garbage hauler ordinance;

Chapter 57 Ordinances Summary of Changes

• The purpose of this update to Chapter 57 was a general cleanup of the ordinance language

• Added definition of Industrial Waste and Municipal Waste to accurately reflect the EPA’s definition of recycling and municipal solid waste

• 57.047 – Allows the landfill to charge up to $3 per passenger car, pickup truck, or two-wheel trailer for use by anyone in the landfill’s service area to use the leaf drop-off sites

• 57.051 added in ability to use/sell byproducts deposited at the landfill (landfill gas, scrap metal recycling) and the ability to donate bicycles deposited at the landfill to nonprofit organizations as provided by SDCL 43-41-11

• 57.067 changed to require hauler vehicles to permanently display a commercial garbage hauler’s name in easily legible letters at least six inches high on both sides of the vehicle. The name displayed must be the same as the name on the hauler’s license, but may also include a logo or other language

Land Use Committee Meeting • 4:30ish, after informational

Presentation; Engineering Design Standards by Public Works staff.

Regular City Council Meeting • 7 PM

Item #1, Approval of Contracts;

Lots of money going towards affordable housing, ironically.

Item #26, City Electric Rate increases

Item #27, Drainage Fee increases

Item #28, Sewer Fee increases

I find it interesting in these 3 ordinances how in the agenda language they don’t say it is a fee ‘increase’ only that it ‘pertains’ to the ordinances. A little trick in government language to not alarm the citizens.

Item #29, Resolution, Union contract with municipal employees. It’s a two year contract in which they will get a 2.5% COLA in 2019 and a 3% in 2020.

UPDATE: KSFY edits Councilor Stehly’s ‘OPINION’ after Mayor TenHaken sends out chastising email to the media and Theresa

UPDATE: Just when you thought this couldn’t get any better, KSFY decided to put Stehly’s comments back in the story with this disclaimer;

Mayor Paul TenHaken has called into question Stehly’s comment about sewer bills rising to $300 a month. He calls it an absurd assertion. KSFY News initially removed the comment after the story aired over concerns that it was confusing, but we have since put the comment back in. Stehly says she stands by her comment.

Prairie Values TV Journalism at it’s best. Maybe KSFY should just stick to doing stories about charity dog races, halloween decorations and food trucks and let the newspaper and blogs cover the ‘real’ news.

It is one thing to edit a story based on having a name misspelled, or numbers and places that or incorrect. That is responsible journalism. But to edit an ‘Opinion’ of an elected official after another elected official in same government entity sends out an email, well, is horrible journalism. I often chuckle at Trump when he says ‘Fake News’ but in this case, one has to wonder.

The other night on KSFY they did a story on the wastewater treatment plant, Councilor Stehly said she has a ‘concern’ that water bills could exceed $300 dollars a month. While I kind of cringed when she said that, it is what it is, an OPINION. (she really isn’t that far off the mark, while our bills will increase $2 a month, for a small business owner they could easily see bills increasing to $300. In fact, over the past decade our water/sewer bills have increased 93%).

Well this ‘Opinion’ did not sit well with Selfie Paul, he sent out this email to city staff and the media (I was conveniently NOT included);

Councilor Stehly:

Thank you for the opportunity this week to once again provide you with information on the Water Reclamation System. Upcoming investments in the collection and treatment systems is a foundational investment crucial to both current and future residents who expect a reliable wastewater collection and treatment system.

The administration has invested hundreds of hours on this project due to the importance of this infrastructure for our city as well as the large price tag attached to it. We have also spent time briefing the City Council, media and public on the importance of this project.

Unfortunately, this week you broke a sacred trust elected leaders have with their constituents. As elected officials we have an obligation to present factual information to the public. That is what I have done in my role as mayor and that is what I expect of city employees. Yesterday, on KSFY and on Tuesday at City Council Informational you stated wastewater customers will experience a $300 per month rate increase as a result of this project. Spreading such misinformation when factual projections have been presented to you is a disservice to your constituents and I’m disappointed you knowingly spread this false information.

Talk about misinformation! It was simply an opinion of ONE city councilor. In the original KSFY story (the edited version is here) Stehly’s ‘Opinion’ was in there, after this email was sent it was edited out of the video (almost) and the text.

Ironically though they didn’t edit the close captioning, it still remains there;

I’m NOT blaming the reporter for this, I’m sure the higher ups made this decision to edit the story, which makes it even more egregious. There’s a fine line between FACTS and OPINIONS, maybe someone should explain this to the producers of KSFY or more importantly the Mayor.

UPDATE III: Should new Sewer Plant bonds be paid for through user fees?

Before I give you my answer to that question, first, I want to say I don’t think it is fiscally feasible. The bond payments combined with current debt service will easily exceed $25 million a year. A question councilor Stehly has been asking but not getting an answer on.

Don’t you think it is kind of bizarre we planned out $260 million in water reclamation upgrades over 7 years, a rate increase model and a 1st reading on Tuesday, yet NO ONE has an estimate of what those bond payments will be.

Yeah . . . right . . .

UPDATE II: Here are the projections;

UPDATE III: Here is the full report and answers to Stehly’s questions from Tuesday’s informationalCouncil Stehly Response – 11-16-18

Reminds of the SFSD and how they ran from the $300 million dollar bond repayment number.

So what is the justification of paying the bonds down through user fees besides the enterprise fund model that former mayor Bucktooth and Bowlcut concocted with Turdbak? They feel that bonds for infrastructure should be paid for through user fees. (I partially agree, but we will get to that in a moment).

Let’s be clear, like the Pavilion, the Denty has never made one dollar’s worth of payments towards the bonds and debt service which is around $9 million a year for the facility. That payment comes directly out of a fund we pay into when we purchase anything in Sioux Falls, groceries, clothing, etc. The 2nd penny is supposed to be for things like infrastructure (sewer plants) and roads, but we use it now to pay down the bonds on entertainment facilities. Does the Denty make money? Well kind of. They have tons of sponsorships* which offset the operational costs and any money left over above and beyond doesn’t even go back to the city. It goes into a revolving fund that the city maintains financially but that SMG uses to promote the EC. While it doesn’t cost us anything to operate the facility, we get ZERO from it to pay down the bonds. It’s like paying a mortgage on a house you can’t live in and the renters keep their rent payment, but do invite you over for an occasional BBQ – BYOB of course.

Something that was suggested long ago was a ticket fee attached to each ticket that would go directly to the bond payment. It was nixed by SMG because they said promoters don’t like it. But if it is written into city ordinance promoters and artists would have to obey. The 7th penny, which is the entertainment tax was used to pay down the Pavilion bonds, it was supposed to sunshine after that but never did and now is used for the maintenance of the Pavilion and EC and CC.

It is hypocritical to say we need to raise sewer rates to pay these bonds since the EC, the Pavilion, The Midco Aquatic Center and many other play palaces in SF have never paid down their bonds through user fees.

The user fees for sewer should go towards operating and maintaining current sewer lines. We should pay the bond for new sewer infrastructure out of the fund that was created for that, the 2nd penny.

When I have suggested this, many have said, “Then where will the debt service come from for the entertainment facilities?” My response is the same as Public Works Director Cotter’s, FROM USER FEES!

It’s time we change city ordinance so that the play palaces can start paying their own way. Clean water is essential to the health and well being of a growing city, seeing Garth Brooks 20 times in a row isn’t. We need to look at our fiscal responsibilities more closely.

*UPDATE: I wonder how the sponsorship negotiations are going with most of the sponsors at the Denty? Most of those agreements expire in 2019 (except the main naming rights). Makes you wonder if SMG’s latest termination has anything to do with this?

Sioux Falls Planning Commission CAN deny applicants

What do we always hear from the SFPC? We have to follow rules, and if the project matches the zoning, we HAVE TO approve it.

I have often argued they do NOT have to. Last Wednesday night they denied a casino on Minnesota Ave. 3-2 vote that was zoned properly for the usage. (Watch Meeting REPLAY, Item#6)

Don’t get me wrong, I agreed with their decision and was surprised it didn’t fail 5-0. Though the zoning fit, the casino was next to a bank and a children’s dance studio, not a good place for alcohol and gambling in my humble opinion.

But what I find hypocritical about the SFPC is they often tell neighbors they HAVE to approve projects because it meets standards. The casino met the zoning standards, but as the neighbors pointed out, bad location.

Let’s face it, when they approve applicants and use the excuse they HAVE to approve something, all they are really saying is, “The developer has more money and influence than God and we really don’t care how it affects you.”

It’s easy to deny a middle class immigrant applicant (which they do quite often) but when Sanford or another large developer steps up to the podium all of sudden the neighbors be damned.

The SFPC did the right thing on Wednesday night by denying this applicant, they need to do it more often, no matter what they say, they DO have the right to deny ANY applicant, even the ones with fat wallets.

UPDATE: Most of the Sioux Falls City Council still in denial we are subsidizing Paramedics Plus

FF: 1:32:30 – Sioux Falls City Council Meeting, 11/13/2018

Watch the discussion about the six-year contract extension for the private ambulance service.

I guess you can continue to repeat a lie hoping people will finally believe you. Certain councilors continue to say we are NOT subsidizing PP, but we are, and it costs taxpayers a lot. The SFFD and the SFPD usually are the first to show up to a medical emergency. Just a few years ago, a study from the SFFD showed that over 90% of fire calls are medical emergencies. We also are going to now have ALS trained firefighters so they can use life-saving procedures when they are the first to arrive. Which is awesome, since we have no idea when our private contractor is going to show.

Last I checked our firefighters and police were NOT volunteer, and the gas that fuels their vehicles is not FREE. By showing up first to these emergencies we are essentially subsidizing PP and getting no reimbursement. Taxpayers are swallowing that cost.

Some councilors are so against a public ambulance service they continue to peddle the lie that it would cost taxpayers more. Not sure what math they are using. Right now we get ZERO reimbursement for being the first responder, if we provided the entire ambulance service we could bill the patients or their insurance provider.

I guess I kind of understand why some councilors are against a public ambulance service, because it will take a lot of work and initial capital to get one started. But please, just admit you are against it, and STOP LYING to the public. We are subsidizing PP, and that’s a fact.

UPDATE: FF: 1:09:40 – Changing time limit of public input for 2nd readings to 5 minutes.

You know my feelings on this. I think if it is a 2nd reading and people are trying to protect their neighborhood, property or welfare as long as they are being pertinent to the topic and not repeating other testimony, they should have no time limit. This is how the Minnehaha County Commission handles it, and it works well. Brekke has proposed they change it from the very restrictive 3 minutes to 5 minutes. While I will applaud her effort in making it better, we could go further. Other councilors including Councilor Neitzert agree it was too restrictive and needs to change. I thanked Greg last night for his testimony. He pointed out the real problem with public input had more to do with the previous chair than the public itself. The former chair ran the meetings horribly, and treated citizens with extreme disrespect. I predicted when they made the changes that they were not needed because the chair and a certain other councilor who were contributing to the disruption would be gone. Council is now realizing that is exactly the case, and I am happy some of them are seeing it.

Now they need to overturn Rolfing/Erpenbach’s horrible majority vote council seat resolution.

The Secret of the $300 million dollar School Bond revealed

Many asked why the Sioux Falls School District needed a $50 million dollar ‘slush fund’ in the bond. I knew why, and it seems some of that is being revealed;

The district’s school board approved a contract Wednesday with Koch Hazard Architects to expand and renovate Memorial Middle School’s music area.

Yes, this is the same firm that went millions over budget on the Pavilion, screwed up the balcony and was in the middle of the siding settlement fiasco at the Denty. Rumor has it that they have gone millions over budget on their own projects also.

Why do we continue to throw public money at a firm who consistently squanders our money?

I guess this explains the ‘slush fund’. The SFSD district had to prepare themselves for the cost overruns. They could save taxpayers even more if they would just hire a firm that is qualified and has some fiscal restraint.

Speaking of the extreme ignorance of our educational wing of SF government, they finally put stricter rules on open enrollment. Something that should have been done 10 years ago and definitely before the bond vote. The boundaries should have also been redrawn.

But hey, when you have a $50 million dollar slush fund, it doesn’t matter if you make bad decisions, borrowed tax payer money can fix anything.

UPDATE: Was the Denty’s GM, Torkildson let go?

UPDATE: It seems Jorgi at Stormy is a bit baffled by Terry’s disappearance;

The man in charge of the Denny Sanford PREMIER Center is no longer there.  It’s a story that has a lot of people scratching their heads. It has a lot of people asking what happened to Terry Torkildson.

As I reported on Friday, it sounds like a lot of internal corporate crap. I do know that Torkildson is in shock. I also heard that it had to do with the lack of brown nosing skills Terry had compared to Chris Semrau. Let’s just say one of them was a lot better at smoozing then the other one. I guess that is why one of them was promoted and the other one was let go. Hopefully we will hear more in the coming week.

I’m hearing from several sources that the GM of the Denty was terminated. Not sure if that happened today? I also no few details as to why or if it really happened.

As you know, Torkildson has been with SMG for many years, and to be very clear, this would have been a decision by their corporate offices and NOT City Hall (I would assume).

It comes as a surprise really, because I felt Terry was doing a good job. He fought like a good soldier to get the Denty, and for attendance records it was doing well (even though SMG hasn’t paid a penny of the mortgage). He also was always up front with me and even pulled me aside a few times at council meetings to set me straight on details I blogged about, which I appreciate.

As you know, Terry was the one that told then councilor Rex Rolfing in a recorded council coffee meeting that the dented up siding on the Denty made it “Look interesting.” That still cracks me up.

With most things corporate America, I’m sure it has to do with internal garbage, and one has to wonder about this taking place so shortly after Chris Semrau left Sioux Falls to take on another position elsewhere with SMG? I have been told some reasons why it may have happened, but at this point I’m not going to speculate.

More reasons why we don’t need TIFs

There was a couple of stories today that show when developers in the Sioux Falls area want something, they suddenly have the money to pony up.

First the 85th exchange;

The project got through the IJR at the speed it did because the area landowners upfronted the money to pay privately for the report to be compiled.

They are committed to investing $4 million to get the project through federal approvals and initial design.

“You have a consolidated group of motivated businesspeople who own a massive piece of ground that’s going to open for commercial development,” said Jake Quasney, vice president of real estate and investments at Lloyd Cos.

Isn’t it funny, when there are millions to be made, the developers have all kinds of upfront cash to get what they want done and pushed through.

Just look at Journey’s $1 million land ‘Donation’ to the SFSD;

The district’s school board made the decision Wednesday for about $4.3 million and accept a $1 million donation from the company, bringing the total cost closer to $3.3 million.

Was this a ‘donation’ or just incentive to secure building a $90 million dollar High School (and possibly other facilities?).

With record building permits again this year, and all this CAPITAL the developers have to help secure future projects, one has to wonder if TIFs are even needed anymore in Sioux Falls?

Short answer; NO.

Did the National League of Cities conference have a seminar on European Sportcars?

Looks like Sioux Falls City Councilor Marshall Selberg is learning a lot in LA at the conference.

Lesson #1; Driving a Lamborghini in a pair of Dockers is against California law.

Sioux Falls City Council Agenda, Tue Nov 13, 2018

City Council Informational Meeting, 4 pM

The meeting is jam packed with presentations;

SF Development Foundation will do a presentation. My educated guess is that it is about their new workforce development manager and what they plan to do.

We also get a progress report on the response to the Emerald Ash borer.

Cotter will give us a water rate increase presentation. Can’t wait! Wonder if he will talk about all the delicious extinguisher foam in our water?

We will get a presentation on the city’s proposal to implement Asset Management Software. This is the first I have heard about this. Should be interesting.

City Council Regular Meeting, 7 pM

Item #1, Approval of Contracts;

(16-17) Enterprise Asset Management Informational System, $835K

Enterprise Asset Management Informational System for strategic asset management and work order system for the City. The system will be deployed city-wide to provide life cycle management and long range forecasting on City assets while creating a standardized workflow for all departments. Contract will be five years from the final approval date with a base cost of $835,000 and an annual software maintenance cost of $60,000 for the first five years. The City has an option for a full pavement management package at $291,500. Contract No. 17-0095

This is the item the CC will be briefed about at the informational meeting. I still have NO CLUE what this is, and when I talked to a city councilor today about it, they were clueless also.

Item #3, Surplus Property. Apparently when a city vehicle gets in a wreck they just junk it out. So the question is, did they get any insurance money? Who’s fault was the accident? No biggee, just junk it out.

Items #14-15, 2nd Readings, Naming rights at the indoor pool. Am I the only one finding it funny one is for a greasy pizza chain and a healthcare provider? Or is it a greasy healthcare provider? I get confused.

Item #16, 1st Reading. Changing public input on 2nd readings that are quasi-judicial from 3 minutes to 5 minutes. While this is all well and good, you know my opinion. On second readings, citizens should have unlimited time if they are defending their neighborhoods. As long as that defense isn’t repetitive or disrespectful and pertinent to the topic. As I have said several times, there are NO time limits on the meetings. So why time limits on public input? Silly, but more importantly, Anti-Democratic.

Item #17, 1st Reading. Renewing the private ambulance provider until 2026. With that kind of time frame, this would be a good opportunity to research a public ambulance service.