Entries Tagged 'Taxes' ↓

Water conservation = Lower Rates. I jest.

The Argus Leader ED board has a brilliant suggestion;

We believe the water system should pay for itself, through the users, and that pricing for those services needs to help drive conservation.

If we feel our water bills are too high, maybe we can start by using less water?

Uh, yes, what a freaking concept. This poor stupid hippie in me has all of sudden forgotten about ‘conservation’. Except the fact of the glaring irony of your statement (so bold and finger pointing). Water rates did not go up for decades because the city was selling water at an all time high. In fact, during the Hanson administration, the water plant almost blew up. Really, it almost did. Or was it Munson? I forget.

So then we had exploding sewer pipes, etc. The city said, ‘Goddammit we are going to conserve!’ Bravo! They started handing out toilet rebates like candy and fancy low flow shower heads and garden hose thingies.

We were on our way to catching up with modern society, because once we conserve, our water rates would go down. I jest.

Quite the opposite. We started conserving, even at a record amount, then came that pesky Events Center and Jason Aldean concerts. How to pay for them? Well, it is quite simple. We start making water users, even the ones that conserve like a camel in a dessert, pay for pipes that orginally came from the 2nd penny infrastructure funds.

Oh, and what about all this urban sprawl, Foundation Park and the 22 Walmarts we need to build in the middle of cornfields? We gotta pay for pipes to them to. It’s all about those high paying jobs, you know.

So what has all this brilliant conservation gotten us? Well we got this awesome $80 million dollar pipeline that really only helped our Iowa neighbors get cheaper water that we only use about 10% of the time (because we are mandated to).

So if we really want to talk conservation and lower rates, let’s have this seventh grade math problem conversation. Those who truly conserve should pay on a sliding scale with those who don’t (and I mean a real one). In other words, if the average single family household uses less then that amount each month, they should get a substantial discount, if they don’t they should get a hefty ‘service charge’ for not conserving.

Isn’t that the enduring concept behind ‘conservation’? The less you use, the less you pay? Because the last I checked when I opened up my water bill this last month, there wasn’t a free pair of tickets to see Paul McCartney.

What was that Cotter? 70% on roads?

As a South DaCola foot soldier points out, Public Works director Mark Cotter may have ‘Mispoke’ recently on the Belfrage Show when he said “70% of the 2nd penny is spent on roads. As ‘Warren’ points out, not so fast;

I was also wondering where cotter got that 70% figure for second penny money for streets. Seemed high considering our debt service for playthings.

From page 8 2015 budget.

Street. 47.6%
Debt service. 28.1%
Culture/Rec. 14.3%
Police/Fire. 5.4%
Info/Tech (indoctrination) 2.2%
And a couple more percent split amongst several other departments

From page 8 2016 budget

Street. 51%
Debt service 26.8%
Culture/Rec. 11.2%
Police /Fire. 4.4%
Info/ Tech. 2%

The city has two reserve funds. The general fund is the city’s primary operating fund. This cover department wages, services, day to day functions. Main sources of revenue are the 1st penny tax and property tax.

The CIP is a plan, by department, that list capital projects related to infrastructure costs. The second penny funds this. Does the above look like the intent of the second penny?

Another note. The water reclamation enterprise fund (piggy bank, courtesy of the bills we pay) has 62.4 million in it. The water department has 39 million.

As Stehly has pointed out correctly, we ARE NOT spending enough of the 2nd penny on roads and infrastructure, and our enterprise funds really are turning into a ‘slush fund’ due to the enormous rate increases. Maybe Mark and Finance Director Tracy Turbak need to have a meeting a get on the same page before blasting councilors elect Stehly and Neitzert for pointing out the truth. One of these days the current administration will figure out that that lying thing will eventually bite you in the ass.

 

Property taxes (assessments) are going up in Lincoln County, but not because of the Harrisburg School District

So this email from the super of Harrisburg was recently sent out;

—–Original Message—–

From: Notification from Harrisburg School District [mailto:Notification-Do_Not_Reply@target.brightarrow.com]

Sent: Saturday, April 02, 2016 2:01 PM

To: – – – –

Subject: This is a notification from Harrisburg School District

We are hearing that some people in Lincoln County are seeing that their real estate taxes have taken a big jump.  What we understand is that most of this is due to higher assessments on property.  The Harrisburg School has again not raised their tax levies for the 9th year in a row.  Any increases you may see are not due to an increase by the school.  Jim Holbeck

The assessments are up in Sioux Falls to. Funny how this city is swimming in money and we have all this borrowing power, of course we do, we keep increasing taxes.

HB1182 passes senate, one of the most ignorant decisions the State Legislature has ever made

I have been following the state legislature for many years, and passing a regressive sales tax increase to give raises to one sector of public employment is probably one of the worst things I have seen our state legislature do in recent memory (besides all the social issues).

I won’t rant about all the other options we had to increase teacher pay without raising taxes, we have seen those options (there are hundreds). One of the best that was actually presented to me a few years ago by representative Hunhoff (who voted yes) was pulling from our gigantic state reserves. We didn’t hear much from Hunhoff on that idea this session. He must have forgotten about it.

So what happened? The only ones voting against this were the cheap skates of the legislature, who would vote against any tax increase. But what about the other Republicans? Are they so scared of property tax and and income tax that they voted to tax the poorest of our society more? Most likely.

But the big losers in this debate? The SD Democratic party. For years they cry about the food tax and general regression of sales taxes to begin with, and when they had a chance to stand up to this and present their own plan they suddenly turn into a gigantic flock of chickenshits.

It doesn’t surprise me our doofus of a governor would concoct such an ignorant plan, I just never imagined 2/3 of our legislature was this moronic to go along with it.

I’ll pray for you tonight.

Last in Pay

One of the big arguments that comes up with bringing up teacher pay is bringing up the pay of other professionals. Is it fair to raise taxes on all of these OTHER professionals so teachers can get paid more? As I have said, it is purely ignorant to raise regressive sales taxes for teacher pay when the money is already there (heck, probably sitting in reserves). This is about presenting intelligent plans to raise teacher pay, not knee jerk reactions. People want this increase SO bad, they are willing to fall back on fiscally irresponsible and ignorant taxation plans to get it. That my friends is called GREED.

Let’s pay teachers more, but let’s pay everybody else more to, because if that happens, there will be plenty of school funding sources to go around.

I hope the sales tax plan fails on Monday, but I also hope a doable plan comes forward without raising sales taxes.

lastinpay

Governor’s ‘Ignorant’ Pay Teacher plan fails by one vote

I guess I am not really elated, it should have failed by a lot more. There will be a reconsideration tomorrow. There was one excused vote today. It could still eventually pass.

I have said from the beginning any plan that uses an increase in sales taxes is short-sighted and fiscally irresponsible.

Think about it, just for a moment. While almost half of school kids in the SF School District get free or reduced lunches (because their parents are living in poverty and can’t afford to buy food) the solution for higher teacher pay is to RAISE the tax on food that these student’s parents can’t afford. I guess as long as teacher’s can afford to buy themselves lunch, the FEDs will continue to feed the needy.

There are options, SEVERAL options;

• Use 100% of lottery money to fund education by upping the state’s take.

• Equalize school administrator pay with teacher pay (we are 26th in the nation for admin pay).

• Reduce reserves of school districts and funnel that money towards teacher pay. I have never understood putting tax dollars in savings accounts. Either spend it, or give it back.

• Eliminate several sales tax exemptions like on advertising.

• Equalize ag land property taxes with urban taxes. Let’s face it, farming is more and more a corporate venture not a small family business.

• Implement more taxes on tourism.

We have options, hundreds of options. Raising taxes on food, utilities and clothing is short sighted and counter productive. Let’s raise teacher pay, but let’s do it in an educated way and responsibly.

Is the city of Sioux Falls proposing Platting fee increases?

arty-street

 

I have to admit, when I saw this proposal (DOC: Platt-fee-increase) I wondered what city I was living in. After all the lies we were told several years ago about how the developers were going to kick in 50% or more while increasing our taxes, I am still skeptical about what is up.

Stay Tuned.

Huether’s Hypocrisy of Audits

After listening to Mike’s temper tantrums this week, especially about monitoring these numbers like a hawk, and the lies from his finance office, his hypocrisy is beginning to show.

His comments yesterday about audits and the CVB Bid tax weren’t even close to reality. He wants to audit a $2.9 million dollar tax so he can get a million of it for what? Cheerleading & Dart tournaments?

This is were his hypocrisy kicks in. He wants to audit such a minute amount of money (that is apparently working as it should) but hasn’t let the public see any expenses or audits when it comes to the Events Center. Finance Director Tracy Turbak even admitted on Tuesday that he doesn’t even know if he has change order files but knows what the subcontractors were paid, maybe. How is that? You don’t know what the change orders are, and you have no idea how much money Mortenson made, but he can get you that information, as long as the Argus wasn’t suing for it.

I agree with you Mayor Huether, let’s audit the CVB, and let’s release that audit the same day as the EC building expense and siding settlement audits get released. We could throw one big audit party. I’ll drive the black Mariah.
But all this audit and tax talk has also got me thinking about the mayor’s possible opposition to the car rental fees for the development foundation. While we may both agree on this, I have a feeling the Mayor opposes it for two reasons. First off because he wants it all for the city and secondly he was pretty much left out of the negotiations when it came to Foundation Park and the GOED. As the rumor goes, “Foundation Park is moving forward in spite of Mayor Huether”.

Seems there is a lot of things that are moving forward these days ‘in spite’ of Mayor Huether

Mayor Huether says ‘The Status Quo is our Nemesis’ when it comes to the bid tax

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bid-tax

“Just a few things the mayor wants to spend hotel tax on.”

As I have often said, if the Status Quo is working, you don’t need to fix it. In some bizarro world where Huether lives he seems to think people are mis-spending money if he can’t have it. Makes you wonder how bad of financial shape the city is in if he needs to get his hands on a portion of the $2.9 million.

I can follow your rules . . . what were the rules again?

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A dramatic piece of Sioux Falls City Council theater just happened on January 19, 2016. Rex Rolfing was supposed to present the rental car tax ballot proposal but decided to break Council rules by having a private citizen do it instead. Poor Dale Froehlich, chairman of the SFDF board who was doing Rex’s job, was left standing bewildered at the podium as the Mayor and Rex Rolfing argue Robert’s Rules and Council procedure.

A few Council concepts to understand:
First, the City Council has a period for Public Input at the beginning of every meeting where anyone can show up to talk about any topic not a resolution or 2nd reading.
Second, the 1st reading is a procedure reserved for staff or Council members to present the item for further discussion and then establish the vote.
Third, No private citizen is allowed to present an item for final vote placement.
Fourth, Don’t arrange questionably legal secret Executive Sessions to place your personal projects on the agenda and ballot.
Fifth, Don’t argue with the chair in public, it’s not respectful and it could be hurtful.

Let’s just say, all but Rex sided with the mayor. Dale went to sit down with Tim Stanga as Rex placed the motion to a stunned room. Can we say it was a proposal for disaster?