Entries Tagged 'Taxes' ↓

Assbackwards road funding ideas

I was watching State Senator Mike Vehle talk about road funding ideas on 100 Eyes yesterday and just about spit out my coffee. One of the ideas is to PUNISH hybrid and electric car users. Mike suggested that Electric car users should pay an additional $80 registration fee, and Hybrid an additional $40, because they don’t use as much gas or no gas at all. Ludicrous. Most of those vehicles are very light, and do little damage to the roads, my Hybrid weighs under 1,500 lbs. (and the way I drive it, I doubt it touches the road much at all). Basically, what Mike is saying is that we should start charging people who ride bikes on the roads, because hey, they are using the roads and not contributing a gas tax.

You have to realize, we also fund road maintenance through sales taxes to, something us hippy Hybrid drivers and bicyclists also pay.

He also suggested that in the future we use a satellite monitoring system to track mileage. Really?! That is one of the most jackass ideas I have heard so far.

Let’s face it, the solutions are simple, and Mr. Content Strategist Lalley brought one of them up.

“Why not just lift all the exemptions that exist?”

Exactly!

For instance, farmers not having to pay registration on monster tractors and trailers that tear the crap out of the roads. START CHARGING THEM! Farming is a business, just like a contractor, and if they have to register their vehicles, farmers should to.

There are also other fair and equitable ways;

- Raise the gas tax.

- Charge registration based on weight and usage of vehicle. The heavier the vehicle, the more you pay.

- Tax vehicles the same rate as food and utilities. This idea is way past due.

- Have dealerships charge taxes at the time of purchase and give you license plates, why are we using county resources for this? Grocery stores collect taxes for the state, why can’t car dealerships? (This was a suggestion by commissioner Jeff Barth)

Once again the brain trust we call our state legislature wants to punish the poor and wise instead of the people who are actually damaging our roads the most. And we keep re-electing these fools.

Sioux Falls City Council’s legislative priorities

The council is voting on their legislative priorities Tuesday (Item #31). We only have to pay the council’s legislative advisor $80K a year to come up with these seven bullet points. Sweet deal? Huh? But you know we are ‘saving money’ by replacing former city clerk Debra Owen with three full-time people. Who appear to be getting a raise.

Once again, the city and council prefer to act like they are a dictatorship within the State of South Dakota, that can impose their own damn rules when they feel like it, and tell the state what to do;

1) That the Sioux Falls City Council, in conjunction with the South Dakota Municipal League, opposes any legislation that would inhibit municipalities from providing services requested by citizens in whatever form the citizens approve and opposes any legislation that restricts local control over taxation and spending.

This one is so poorly written, one wonders what the heck it means. The city already has control over fees and several other taxes. They just can’t raise the sales tax over a certain percentage, and I think that should stay within the power of the state legislature. If we start letting cities in SD determining sales taxes we would be paying a heckuva a lot more in Sioux Falls. I recommend the legislature kill this in committee.

2) The Sioux Falls City Council supports legislation allowing municipalities alternative publication options.

I agree with this one, the city pays almost $70K a year to a newspaper that is by subscription only for legal notices, and I think it’s daily paper only reaches about 20% of the total population of Sioux Falls (according to their last audit). It would make more sense to put the legal notices in a FREE weekly shopper and ONLINE. Heck, you would reach more citizens online, and it wouldn’t cost us a red cent.

3) The Sioux Falls City Council opposes any legislation that would reduce, remove, repeal, or reallocate the municipal sales tax, liquor tax reversion, or any other municipal revenues to any other unit of government or that would expand the power to impose a sales and use tax to any other unit of government.

I disagree with this one, and hope the legislature kills this in committee. Basically this is an anti-county funding. It amazes me that a city that depends on the county to prosecute the criminals THEY arrest would deny them another funding source. Wait, maybe it doesn’t surprise me.

4) The Sioux Falls City Council supports legislation that expands affordable housing opportunities in South Dakota.

While I support these efforts, it is still a vague proposal, and probably won’t carry much water in Pierre without some more details on how the city plans to expand it.

5) The Sioux Falls City Council supports legislation to raise the threshold for requiring a performance bond to $50,000.

I agree with this proposal and encourage the legislature to act on this.

 

6) The Sioux Falls City Council strongly encourages the legislature to direct that any available water development funds be used to support completion of the Lewis & Clark Regional Water System in South Dakota.

7) The Sioux Falls City Council supports legislation appropriating funds from the state Omnibus Water Fund for the purpose of providing advance of federal funds on a zero interest reimbursable basis for construction for Lewis & Clark Rural Water System facilities in South Dakota.

I encourage this also, but am baffled by our continuing love affair with Lewis & Clark. We already doled out $80 million for a pipeline that was expanded to Sioux Falls for emergency backup. We put in our fair share (and much more) and as far as I am concerned, it is L & C’s problem to secure more funding.

Not all of the priorities are bad, but pitting local governments against each other when it comes to funding isn’t wise, or prudent for that matter, especially when the city depends on the county for social services and prosecuting our criminals.

 

We don’t need an increase in Sales Taxes

There was a poll released over the weekend on Stormland TV that most people support increasing the sales tax for three months in the summer to increase teacher pay. They feel that tourists will mostly be paying the tax.

Poppycock.

First off, while I do think our teachers deserve better pay, I have often felt their pay is inline with what other South Dakotans make, in other words, we all make crappy wages.

Secondly, taxing food and other necessities is the wrong way to go about paying teachers. We need to find ways to reduce sales taxes, not increase them. They are regressive and a poor way to fund education.

Thirdly, the state has the money to give school districts in reserves, they just refuse to, this is a legislative issue, not a funding issue.

As for tapping into tourism to raise teacher pay, I think that is a great idea. How about we set a corporate tax on seasonal tourism businesses? Or how about we have a state tax fee on hotel rooms during the summer? If we truly want tourism to pay for the pay increase, then lets direct the taxes AT tourism?

Once again another stupid idea from Pierre and the minions follow suit.

OUTRAGEOUS!

It is the only word I can use to describe the Mayor’s recent proposal;

One thing that sparked Mayor Huether’s interest was a penny sales tax that brings in additional revenue.

“Now, you need voter approval of course. It needs to be for a specific project. And yes, there has to be an end date in terms of when this funding or sales tax would stop,” Huether said.

Williston recently completed a sales tax increase that raised money for parks and $70 Million for a new recreation center.

Williston is now working with the state to create a new sales tax that would be split between the city and county. Something that Huether believes could benefit our area as well.

“I thought that was very intriguing. You’re hearing from the folks here in Minnehaha County how they’re burdened with the boom town of Sioux Falls. The city is growing and flourishing, doing quite well. And you’ve got the county of course that has to take care of some of the social needs, some of the social ills that come along with that growth,” Huether said.

We need to raise taxes in Sioux Falls!?

Are you f’ing kidding me?!

The problem with the county’s budget has NOTHING to do with revenue stream, it has to do with state law. We don’t need to raise sales taxes to fund them, we need to change state law so the 2nd penny, or at least alcohol taxes can be shared with them.

There’s a history lesson here folks. When the 2nd penny was initially introduced, it was for roads and was only supposed to be used for a limited time. That ship sailed, it is still here and it is used on everything from pickleball courts to dog parks. What’s more important to you? A fair and well managed county judicial system or pickleball?

Let’s also look at when they raised the 2nd penny to .08 six years ago. Supposed to go towards arterial roads, that plan has been a bust and in the meantime the city has collected around $30 million dollars in which they have just tucked away or used on other projects. Which is fine, but the intent of the increase was based on a bald-faced lie. What I am saying is the city doesn’t exactly have a very good track record when it comes to following through with it’s promises.

Also, take into account the city changed water/sewer over to enterprise funds. This gave them an excuse to raise our rates so they could fix infrastructure. Guess what? The 2nd Penny CIP money is supposed to be used for that, there is NO reason they had to raise our rates. The problem is the money  is being spent on bond commitments and entertainment so the city had to find infrastructure money someplace else. Raise Rates (taxes).

Make no mistake, this city is FLUSH in extra money, we could easily give the county 25% of our 2nd penny, and wouldn’t even scratch us.

Like I said above it is time for a change in law, not a sales tax increase. Not to mention sales taxes have proven to be the most regressive form of taxation in the nation.

It has to be one of the most selfish, ignoramus things this mayor has EVER suggested, he should be ashamed of even suggesting it.

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

More TAXPAYER funded campaign materials for Huether

IMG_0318 I got this extra special insert in my water bill yesterday. I guess they couldn’t give these tours AFTER the municipal election. My question is, are these inserts and tours being paid for out of the city’s general fund or from the EC bonds? Either way, doesn’t matter, still our money. Ironically, this will be the only time you will be able to walk through the EC’s doors without buying a ticket. Get the (partially) FREE gettin’ while it is good.

More property tax cuts for the rich in Sioux Falls

cbk

The Baker House, formerly Scott Heidepriem’s residence (I believe this photo, to your far left, was taken while Scott still owned it).

I guess if you can’t get a TIF to fix up your mansion, you can always get a historical designation;

A 98-year-old house and two other buildings constructed in the 20th century in Sioux Falls have received eight-year property tax moratoriums to help with maintenance and rehabilitation (through the South Dakota State Historical Society).

A home in the McKennan Park Historic District also received a property tax moratorium. The Baker House at 503 E. 21st Street is a Tudor Revival style of architecture that needs replacements.

While I think the State Theatre could use it, I am struggling with a private residence. Not only is it a behemoth three-story mansion, but besides being worked on (for over a year now) it is also been added onto. I think it is great that someone is ‘fixing up’ a historical home (for the record my house is 125 years old and could use some repairs) but to ask for a property tax cut? Seriously?

The wealthy already enjoy low taxes in South Dakota and NO income tax, now when they buy (an already well-kept) mansion, they want a tax break?

Oh, I can hear it already, I’m a hypocrite because I posted in the past about TIF’s for cleaning up older homes in the central part of the city. Trust me, when I talk about fixing up homes in the core of the city, this place DOES NOT come to mind. I live about a mile from the home and walk past it weekly with the dog. When Scott owned it, it was well taken care of, and after he sold it, I noticed the new owners doing a massive rehab on it. Don’t believe me, just drive by. It is straight EAST of the Tennis courts at McKennan Park on 21st Street.

Wonder who the new owner knows on the Historical Society’s board of trustees :)

Is it time for a city ordinance to eliminate spending tax dollars on ‘educating’ the public on ballot measures?

government-waste

The following Argus Leader article from today’s paper highlights the problem all the citizen efforts will face. What’s to stop City Hall employees from discussing openly who/what the people should vote for? With our lack of ethics law, what’s to stop decisions being made affecting who can vote.

Is the city wrong in this attempt to sway a citizen effort’s defeat? What do the city ‘leaders’ have to gain? Why do the efforts of city bureaucrats mean more, than the citizen efforts? We will see the same thing happening on the other three issues.  The pool issue is but a small part of the larger picture of what is happening in Sioux Falls and South Dakota.

We will be seeing city hall led efforts to take charge of the non-ballot discussion to sway the pool vote. Our salesman mayor only knows how to sell something. The only way a salesman gets gratification by closing another sale, damn the costs that’s someone else’s job to worry about.

Maybe it is time for a city ordinance banning the use of taxdollars being spent on ‘educating’ the public on citizen initiated ballot issues.

Should elected officials be able to speak freely to the public about their opinions on certain ballot issues? Most definitely, in fact the First Amendment protects that right. But should an elected official or a city director/employee be able to use taxpayer resources to educate the public about a ballot issue they want defeated or even approved? State Law says it cannot, but the city seems to be using a ‘loophole’ claiming they are ‘educating’ the public. Baloney.

When you present the public (leak it to all the major news media) 75% more drawings of an indoor pool, then an outdoor pool, and clearly make the indoor pool look more favorable, while spending $46,000 on these drawings, you are clearly trying to sway the public to vote against an outdoor pool.

I have no issue with Walmart, SON, Community Swim, Veterans for the VA or even the snowgaters organizing and paying for an education campaign. As private enities, they have that right. But they should not be expending tax dollars to sway a vote.

Since the city seems to want to ignore state law, or use loop holes to continue to ignore it, what can we do as citizens to stop the taxpayer funded ‘education’ program?

Ironically is probably another ballot issue to close the state law loophole. Who is willing to come forward? Soon?

Is Sioux Falls becoming a ‘Dynasty Trust’ tax haven?

TaxHaven

 

South Dakota has long been known as a tax haven for full-time, retired RVers. In fact this business is one of the leading mail forwarding businesses in the country. The other irony is that while ‘REAL’ residents are paying retail and property taxes to help support services in our state, these people are taking advantage of residency to skirt taxes (besides the pittance they pay in vehicle licensing).

But this article goes beyond the little tax loophole RVers are participating in;

Among the nation’s billionaires, one of the most sought-after pieces of real estate right now is a quiet storefront in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

Don’t look for any heiresses in this former five-and-dime. Most days, the small offices that represent these families are shut. Even empty, they provide their owners with an important asset: a South Dakota address for their trust funds.

In the past four years, the amount of money administered by South Dakota trust companies like these has tripled to $121 billion, almost all of it from out of state. The families needn’t actually move to South Dakota, or deposit their money at a local bank, or even touch down in the private jet. Little more than renting an address in Sioux Falls is required to take advantage of South Dakota’s tax-friendly trust laws.

Can you believe that? On the corner of 1oth & Phillips, where billions in dynasty trusts are sheltered from taxes you only have to walk a few blocks to the SAM bus station to see some of the poorest people of our community.

South Dakota’s sudden popularity illustrates how, at a time of rising U.S. economic inequality, the wealthiest Americans are embracing ever more creative ways to reduce taxes legally. Executives at South Dakota Trust Co., one of the biggest in the state, estimate that one-quarter of their business comes from special vehicles known as “dynasty trusts,” which are designed to avoid the federal estate tax. Creation of such trusts has surged in recent years as changes in federal law enabled more money to be placed in them.

Still others are drawn to South Dakota’s iron-clad secrecy, and protections of trust assets from creditors and ex-wives. Many of these features emulate those available in Bermuda and other island havens.

You ain’t kidding, secrecy. You can’t even get developers to release names of investors when they are asking for millions in TIF’s.

In South Dakota, a farm state that’s home to two of the 10 poorest counties in the U.S., lawmakers say they’re bolstering the trust industry to generate work for local law firms and bankers, and forge ties with prosperous families that may one day decide to build a factory or a warehouse here.

LMAO! How did that packing plant in Aberdeen work out? Or the cool million wasted in recruiting a couple of welders to SD for Trail King?

And our, conflict of interests, non-ethical legislature has no problem with robbing the federal government of tax dollars while holding out their hands for EB-5 programs;

The bill was sponsored by the House’s Committee on State Affairs, whose chairman, David Lust, is also House majority leader and head of the trust task force. When the part-time legislature isn’t in session, Lust works at a Rapid City law firm where one of his partners is a leading trust lawyer.

Lust receives no “direct benefit” from the legislation, he said.

Bernie Hunhoff, a Democrat and the House minority leader, said some in his caucus roll their eyes when the task force’s annual proposals come up for a vote. They’re aware that the trust industry drains revenue from the U.S. Treasury, which supplies almost half the state’s budget each year, he said.

“There’s a bit of an irony there, if not hypocrisy,” said Hunhoff, editor and publisher of South Dakota Magazine. “Anything we can do to poke the federal government in the eye, or to help anybody, even wealthy strangers from 1,000 miles away, avoid taxes, that seems to be a popular thing out here.”

Still, Hunhoff said the proposals have bipartisan — and virtually unanimous — support.

“If we don’t provide for these kinds of trusts here, this will happen in some other state, so we might as well try to get the activity here,” he said. “If we can find opportunity for a few dozen young lawyers, I guess I’ll set my philosophical concerns aside.”

Bernie? Hypocrisy in the South Dakota Legislature? Get the F’ck outta here!

The Value of TIF’s in Minnehaha County

Commissioner Jeff Barth sent this information to me from the county’s equalization office;

The combined worth of TIF’s in Minnehaha County is $91,326,856.  Of this number the base value (Number that is taxed and distributed to all entities) of $28,861,936 is subtracted from the total leaving $62,464,928 that is considered increment value and is taxed and used to pay off the Increment Districts.  I can show you individual projects if needed.  TIF’s are in the County, Sioux Falls City, Brandon City and Dell Rapids City.