Entries Tagged 'Taxes' ↓

Common Sense killed 135

This failed for a reason, and it wasn’t the political power machine that killed it, it was many people with common sense behind the scenes lobbying against higher regressive taxes that just burden the working poor. It is counterproductive to fund projects on the backs of people paying higher taxes on food and utilities. If we really want to tap a hidden tax source it would be an income tax on corporations and high wage earners. Other then that, it astonishes me that the mayor of SF would support this, a person who is often telling us we are swimming in money. A little history lesson for Mr. Whitney (who apparently has no clue what has been going on in city politics for the past 10 years) We recently switched our water/sewer over to ‘enterprise funds’ this was a way to direct our fees into fixing infrastructure, which makes sense, though I think it was done to justify higher rates and to free up CIP money for ‘play things’. We don’t need higher sales taxes in Sioux Falls, especially under an administration that gets giddy every time they open the city checkbook. The next time the city needs extra money for NEEDED infrastructure, I suggest they cut elitist indoor tennis centers named after our esteemed emperor instead of looking for more ways to screw the poor.

Of course, let’s look at Whitney’s version as to why this went down (am I the only one who doesn’t laugh at his satire pieces but think his serious columns are hilarious?)

Consider the plight of Senate Bill 135, a sales tax measure that appeared reasonable enough when first submitted by Republican state Sen. Corey Brown back in January.

Yes proposed by Mr. South Dakota ALEC himself. An organization that likes to have taxes paid by the working class, while corporations run free from taxation. I can almost guarantee Brown saw this as a way to protect his corporate interests.

Bolstered by the South Dakota Municipal League, the bill would have granted cities and towns the ability to impose up to a third penny of general sales tax — if approved by voters — to pay for capital expenditures such as land acquisition, street or bridge repair and other infrastructure projects.

And that is the major flaw with the legislation, it’s wording, infrastructure projects can mean anything from a bridge, a sewer pipe or an indoor pool.

“Voters had to approve it, it was specifically for infrastructure, there was a hard sunset on it and it could not be extended or renewed,” says Yvonne Taylor, executive director of the South Dakota Municipal League

The ‘Sunset Clause’ song and dance. We know how that rolls. Remember the 2nd penny implementation for roads? Well we don’t entirely spend it on roads anymore, just a portion of it. Or the ‘entertainment tax’ that was used to pay off the Washington Pavilion bonds. Well that was paid off, but we are still paying the tax. The sunset clause is a ruse, because as soon as the project is paid for, government will find another project to spend it on. History has shown this. Do you study history Yvonne?

Gov. Dennis Daugaard, for all his talk about local control, wasn’t thrilled with the idea of cities being able to address their own revenue issues, especially with his push for highway and bridge funding taking top priority in Pierre. If someone was going to raise taxes, it was going to be him.

Well, I’m not one to defend our tight wad governor, but it seems he was using common sense by pointing out raising taxes and fees for road repairs on a state level then allowing municipalities to also implement a tax increase at the same time wouldn’t sit well with taxpayers. It doesn’t take a genius to figure that out.

Deputy state revenue director David Wiest opposed SB135 in Senate committee, saying consumers already pay four cents on the dollar in state sales tax and that collecting more locally would push the burden too high.

“That’s not going to work for citizens in the state,” he told legislators. “They won’t permit it.”

And he is right. I haven’t talked to one single person who thought this was good legislation. The other flaw pointed out to me by my conservative friends was that it should take a 60% majority to approve a tax increase, this was NOT in the bill, and I believe that is why a lot of legislators didn’t like it.

Throwing out a scary number (especially one that could not possibly come to fruition and that Taylor of the Municipal League called “mind-boggling”) was gimmicky politics at best, but the tactic was repeated in op-ed pieces and voter outreach spearheaded by the state chapter of Americans for Prosperity.

It may have been ‘gimmicky’ but not to far from the truth. In fact if we raised the taxes by a penny just in Sioux Falls, it would be around a $50 million dollar tax increase. That’s not a gimmick, that is the truth.

“It’s no secret that Sioux Falls would have reaped the rewards of this legislation, but cities and towns all across the state were clamoring for its passage as well,” Huether said this week. “It was a full-court press for local control.”

Local control?! Let’s talk ‘gimmicks’. Besides the public approving such a regressive tax increase, that is where our ‘control’ would end. We have a city administration that is famous for handing out money to special interests with little public input. In fact, our mayor is so brazen about it, after cutting a $500,000 check to the Indoor Tennis Palace, he slaps his name on the building. Now that’s local control!

Those projects total an estimated $100 million in a city that has about $30 million a year to take care of all of its maintenance, reconstruction and extension efforts, city public works director Mark Cotter told state legislators. To use public bonds, the city would spend more than “$52 million in interest alone” over 20 years to pay for the work, he added.

$30 Million? What did I say earlier about the 2nd penny? The fact is we have been robbing it (CIP) for play things and bond payments on those play things. If we truly spend ALL of the 2nd penny on it’s true intent, we would be driving on streets of gold, and they would be paid for. Instead we consistently rob the cookie jar for entertaining ourselves. The money exists for these projects, make no mistake, but it takes an administration willing to make prudent decisions about infrastructure instead of worrying about what color the bathrooms will be at the Events Center (something I heard he was very involved in).

After the efforts made in Sioux Falls and the personal involvement of Huether to articulate the importance of the bill to the state’s largest city, those votes did not go unnoticed.

“Sioux Falls brought out the big guns to promote the passage of this critical bill,” Huether said. “Then to find out it was some of our very own legislative team that didn’t even let us enter the corral for the gunfight was very disheartening.”

Oh Yes Mike, it’s always about you, isn’t it? This bill was defeated because it just wasn’t fiscally responsible. Besides, what gun fight did you get into? Did you testify in Pierre on it’s behalf? I don’t recall hearing about that?

Darrin Smith, the city’s community development director, said that the bill’s defeat is a setback for Sioux Falls growth.

“I don’t think there’s any question that this will put significant economic development opportunities we have at risk,” Smith said. “This would have allowed us to invest even more in infrastructure to create more jobs and diversify our economy, but you can’t be successful if you’re afraid to lead, so we’ll do the best we can now.”

Wow! Darrin, did you just read what you said? If we were so afraid of risking economic development in Sioux Falls, why did we borrow $117 million for an Events Center? Or rob Federal levee paybacks to build an indoor pool? Or have $37 million in surplus accounts? I don’t think we are risking anything, except over extending ourselves on play things.

“I cheer for our governor more often than not, but this is one topic where I respectfully disagree,” Huether said. “I am not fighting against my governor, but rather fighting hard for South Dakotans, east of the Missouri and west. I know he is too.”

Mike, you cheer (and cry) for one person, and we know exactly who that is.

Today is the day to weigh in on SB135

Today is the day to weigh in on SB135, because the House State Affairs committee takes it up early tomorrow (Friday), 7:45AM.

This bill hikes the most regressive tax we have.

SB135 hits harder on the lower-income people, who already pay a greater portion of income than the well-off. Legislators like to tout what a low income state SD is. Well, we do have lower taxes overall, but only for some of us. People with lowest fifth of incomes pay a higher portion of income than the national average.

This bill would take more food off tables. Families with limited budgets for food already lose 3 weeks worth of food over a year to state and local tax. This bill would cost them 3-and-a-half weeks worth.

Talk about a tax increase! This one is a 50% increase in sales tax for cities! 2% to 3% is a 50% increase! This is huge, especially for Sioux Falls, where population is growing, and sales tax revenue too – much faster than the population. Yesterday’s Argus reports Sioux Falls has a reserve equal to 37.2% of its budget. Some cities may need new revenue, but this is the wrong way to raise it.

SB135 is for special projects and requires a local vote, and legislators love “local control.”  But you know how a city can call just about anything a special project and bring out supporters in a low-turnout election. (streets for Sioux Falls. How special is that?)

Please help these Rep’s see that meeting basic human needs (food and heat) should have their higher priority than local control.













Americans for Prosperity opposed to 3rd penny for municipalities

I don’t often agree with the right wing boloney coming from Americans for Prosperity, but I do agree that raising another penny for municipalities is certainly a horrible idea. They have their reasons to oppose the tax increase, which are the usual choking of economic development, etc., etc. and just being opposed to taxes in general. My reasons are a little different, sales taxes are a regressive tax, and South Dakotan’s impoverished and middle class are already paying too much.

I can see why this will get broad support from both sides of the aisle in our state legislature. Democrats like extra tax money to spend on play things, this is why our mayor is just in love with the idea. Republicans in the state most likely support it, because any increase on sales taxes means a shift away from a corporate or income tax, something that scares the crap out of them.

Let’s face it, there are many things wrong with the proposal. First off, even if I supported the legislation, which I don’t, I would require a 60% majority for passage of the tax increase. I would also eliminate the ‘sunset’ clause, because let’s face it, they are just a myth sold to voters.

But I guess one of the reasons I vehemently oppose the tax increase, especially in Sioux Falls, is because we seem to have a bad habit already of spending our CIP 2nd Penny on playthings, I can’t imagine the out of control spending we would have for projects for the special interest groups if a 3rd penny ensued. You think indoor pools and tennis centers are an unneeded expense now, give the city another $100 million plus a year and you will see them on every corner.

We need responsible taxing, and this is where Americans for Prosperity and I disagree. We need to eliminate the sales taxes on food, clothing and utilities and we need to implement a corporate income tax to foster economic development, or even better yet fund indoor tennis facilities that 99.9% of us sales tax paying peeps will never use.

Besides, the CEOs and their children need something to do during the winter besides counting their frozen moldy money.


We don’t need new taxes in SD, just lift some exemptions

I have often agreed with many we could lift the tax on food, fund education and fix our roads if we just lifted some tax exemptions. This is total exemptions from a report from January 2013: (Doc: SummaryofStateSalesTaxExemptions0113 )

I decided to cherry pick the ones I think should be lifted, which would total an estimated $60,137,00. There are many others that deal with agriculture, but I left them out, because I believe if there is an end sale, it shouldn’t be taxed.

The two that amaze me the most are hunting lodges, general lodging and advertising. I work in printing and advertising, and have often been confused that we can charge a tax for printing a tangible postcard, a form of advertising, but not a placement ad. Seems like a double standard to me.


OPPOSE SB135 – Giving cities the power to raise taxes

Before 10:00am tomorrow, please contact these Senators urging them NOT to let cities have more sales tax. Ask them to OPPOSE SB135.

This bill allows cities to add another 1% city sales tax, for special projects with a vote of the people. So few people vote in city elections, that it would be easy for people behind special projects to get their supporters out and overwhelm a city election, raising the most regressive tax we have.
• This would be a 50% increase in sales tax revenue for a city! (the current 2%  to 3%)
• Sales tax is the most regressive tax we have, meaning the lower-incomes are burdened more, and upper incomes are affected less.
• Sales tax takes food off tables in South Dakota. In families with limited budgets, food is often the flexible part of the budget, and the tax takes food away. Think about how much 6% tax takes out of a $20 bill. (Many low-income household do NOT get food stamps. Many others receive only partial allotments of food stamps and must buy some food with cash.)
• Already at 6% (4% state + 2% city) the total sales tax you pay on food over a year is equivalent to 3 weeks worth of food. A new 1% would add another half a week to that problem.   (.07×52 weeks = 3.65 weeks)
• At one time SD had a strict limit for city sales tax on groceries. But this limit was taken off, and over the past decade SD cities have raised their tax on food from 1% to 2%. By doing this, they already received an increase in sales tax revenue that they continue to reap every year.
(FYI- Background info: Under the “streamlining rules,” city sales tax may not be lower on some things than other things. Thus, we cannot go back to the previous 1% limit on food for cities. However, states are allowed to have lower rates on food and utilities, even zero, which we hope will be accomplished with HB1193.)
• • Many utilities are taxed. (You can see this on your monthly bills.) Cities receive more revenue every time these utility rates go up, as well as when food prices rise.
Senate State Affairs committee votes on this tomorrow (Wednesday Feb.4)
Here are their email addresses. Write them individually, not all in one email.
Or, call and leave a message tomorrow morning before 10:00 am

605-773-3821 for senators. You can ask that it be delivered to 2 senators.

Darrin Smith gets Tifilicious at the County Commission meeting

YouTube Preview Image

(starts at 20:30)

Funny how the commission gets to see this presentation before the council – or at least I can’t recall the council getting the presentation yet?

Darrin explains TIFs before the new TIF presentation. While he is correct that TIFs don’t cost taxpayers up front (even though we are footing the bill to administer them) we are losing property tax revenue for several years. Basically the developers are paying themselves property taxes and using the money to pay for the development.

City announces Neighborhood awards program

This all stems from the neighborhood summit when a resident of the All Saints Neighborhood, Katrina Lehr-McKinney suggested that landlords and others in the community should be recognized;

Community Development also is launching the Mayor’s Neighborhood Champion award program this year. The program recognizes the tremendous volunteer work of our neighborhood associations that demonstrate leadership, volunteerism, creativity, or support of associations and organizational efforts. The three awards include:

  • Neighborhood Landlord of the Year: Recognizes a landlord who sets the bar high in terms of maintaining properties, reinvesting in core neighborhoods, and utilizing good practice in the rental industry.
  • Neighborhood Champion of the Year: Recognizes an individual or association for their leadership and/or accomplishments of an association.
  • Neighborhood Business of the Year: Recognizes a local business that continually supports the efforts of neighborhood organizations within our community.

While I think the Community Development department does a great job helping residents with loans and grants to fix up their homes I think more could be done, such as property tax rebates, discounts and deferrals for people fixing up homes and smaller apartment complexes in central and proper Sioux Falls. I think if we can hand out a $2 million TIF for luxury condos we can do the same for the little guy. Just think of how many homes and apartments could be brought up to spec with $2 million in property tax deferrals.

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?”


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.


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.