Entries Tagged 'Taxes' ↓

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


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?


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?



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.

So are the county’s tax valuations accurate and fair?

Interesting that we were just talking about this the other day on the blog, and our ever increasing property taxes. But this puts a new twist on it;

A lawsuit rising from a disputed property tax assessment involving Minnehaha County could set a troublesome precedent, county officials say.

Hutchinson Technology is suing the county, claiming the sale of a 300,000-square foot building to Sanford Health in 2009 showed the county greatly overvalued the building for tax purposes. The site at 2301 E. 60th St. had been the Hutchinson Technology campus. Sanford acquired it to be its research headquarters.

The most recent assessed valuation before the sale was $18.6 million. But Hutchinson Technology sold the site to Sanford for $12 million. Now Hutchinson Technology is challenging tax assessments from as far back as 2005 and possibly to 2001, according to Kersten Kappmeyer, Minnehaha County state’s attorney chief civil deputy.

Make no mistake, I have often thought state and local governments are greedy when it comes to taxing individuals, nickel and diming us on higher utility rates and fees. Continuing opt-outs for crime prevention and punishment (when changing state laws for non-violent drug offenders would fix the problem) while handing out TIF’s to the big boys and not taxing profits of corporations.

If the County loses this lawsuit, the ripple affect could be devastating, for their coffers anyway.

Property Tax increases


A friend dropped off a print out of her property tax increases since 2009 to me yesterday.

Since 2009 she has done little to no improvements to her property. In fact this past year, the city had to tear up her boulevard for water issues and remove a tree due to the icestorm.

Her home has not increased in value since 2009. It is valued at $96,000 by the county.

From 2009-2010 her taxes increased $4

From 2010-2011 her taxes increased $3

From 2011-2012 her taxes increased $70

I suppose the sudden bump has to do with the county & school district opt-outs.

The part that is disconcerting is that while the city is handing out property tax cut incentives to wealthy developers, we are sticking it to the little guy to help pay for the needs of the county, city and school district.

If we feel like we need to continue these kind of increases, fine. But let’s eliminate TIF’s and have a triple approval process with the county and school district.

So can the city afford to trim (their) trees in the boulevard?

So let me get this straight . . .

We don’t want to take money from FEMA because they are the big bad Feds (who we actually pay taxes to, so we are essentially taking money from OURSELVES to fix a problem WE have).

Then we find out we don’t need to take the money because the city is in ‘fine financial shape’ so we pay for this branch cleanup out of the city coffers (also our money).

Factor in that the city has saved millions this winter due to the lack of snow and snow removal (somewhere around $7 million).

So why hasn’t the city been budgeting for tree trimming all along? We apparently have the money to do the ENTIRE city at one fast blast, why not section it off over a 5 year cycle?

Funny how the city conveniently ‘doesn’t have the money’ in a normal budget cycle, but when a natural disaster occurs we have all kinds of cashola, enough to give the FEDS a middle finger and to cleanup the whole kit and kaboodle.

My suggestion is to implement a program every year to trim the trees in the boulevard, because, you know, like, we have the money. Oh, yeah, and F’CK the Feds who wants their (our) money anyhoo?

SD Ranks #3 in regressive taxes (H/T – Helga)

I am pretty sure we probably rank pretty high in other regressive categories also;

Bread for the World, Advocacy Project legislative updates


Here are some bills that would have an effect on low-income children and families in South Dakota. We know that money is tight in these homes, especially with rising food prices and utility bills. I am taking the liberty of suggesting whether to support or not, but you can assess them given the low-income people you know.
On taxes:
HB 1154 would help by shifting tax from food to non-food. The state’s portion of the food tax would drop from 4% to 0%, while non-food would compensate going from 4% to 4.35%. The many low-income people we have interviewed about this plan have thought it a good idea that would help them. Even people with food stamps like the idea, because they are hoping to get off food stamps, and their neighbors are paying tax on their food.
Special focus: House Taxation Committee – Rep’s Duvall, Erickson, Feinstein, Greenfield, Hunhoff(Bernie), Kirschman, Latterell, Miller, Novstrup(David), Peterson, Rasmussen, Rozum, Russell, Solum, Wick
HB 1193 would raise the state’s portion of sales tax from 4% to 5%. It states no particular purpose. Sales tax is a regressive tax. We should raise it only for a very good purpose that allows the low-income households to come out ahead.
Special focus: House Taxation Committee – Rep’s Duvall, Erickson, Feinstein, Greenfield, Hunhoff(Bernie), Kirschman, Latterell, Miller, Novstrup(David), Peterson, Rasmussen, Rozum, Russell, Solum, Wick
OPPOSE, unless amended
SB 172 would raise the sales tax in June, July and August for “support of the state government”.  Unfortunately they did not exempt food or utilities. Summer is when families have the most expense for food for their faat-growing, physically active school-age children.  We can suggest that this bill be amended so that when this tax goes up for those summer months, at the same time, it could be dropped one percent or more on food.
Special focus: Senate Appropriations Committee – Senators Adelstein, Heineman (Phyllis), Jones, Novstrup (Al), Peters, Sutton, Tidemann, Van Gerpen, White
On healthcare:
SB 140 would allow more low-income pregnant women to get medical coverage. It would allow enough funds to raise the income for eligibility a little higher. The payoff can be huge when pregnancy care prevents even one life-long disability and its expenses.
Special focus: Senate Appropriations Committee – Senators Adelstein, Heineman(Phyllis), Jones, Novstrup(Al), Peters, Sutton, Tidemann, Van Gerpen, White
The Medicaid option in the Affordable Care Act. This would help 48,000 low-income adults get medical coverage. Most of them will not be eligible for the newly affordable policies that will be offered next year. Some of these adults are parents of children who have Medicaid. It is really important for children to have healthy parents. Adults with no children need coverage too. Some have health problems that could be solved making them more able to function in society. (On this topic, my hunch is that philosophy is more the issue than money. Most of the funds would be federal.)
Special focus: We would like to convince all legislators and the governor of the value of this.
On criminal justice reforms
SUPPORT helpful provisions in SB 70 that would allow out-of-penitentiary placement for crimes like drugs and alcohol, which can be monitored in home communities. This would mean more parents could be in the home with their children and also able to go to their jobs to support their families. Families could be less destitute and children more attended to.
I hope this is a helpful start at looking at some of this year’s bills and suggesting topics for the weekend public or private sessions with legislators. Other bills may yet show up as impacting low-income children and families especially. Don’t wait too long to make your contacts. The session goes fast. Thanks for being the voices people need.
Bread for the World members,

You and your friends are invited to First Lutheran Church next Sunday, Feb. 3, for the presentations by our Bread for the World staffer Tammy Walhof. (You don’t need to be a Lutheran to come, even to come to the worship service there.)

If you have been to her presentations before, you know how interesting they are. We are so blessed to be in her region.
Time:  adult education hours, 9:30am and 11:00 am, your choice.
Place: First Lutheran-Sioux Falls, 327 S. Dakota Ave, Friendship Room. When you come in the main doors off the parking lot, take a left and go downstairs. (I am sure there would be a wheelchair accessible way to get there too – just ask.)
Topic: “A place at the table: Ending hunger in God’s world”
Tremendous progress has been made in dramatically reducing hunger and poverty around the world. Churches play an important role in “serving our neighbor.”  Yet in our country, both poverty and hunger are on the rise. What’s been accomplished, and what still needs to be done? Bread for the World Senior Organizer Tammy Walhof answers those questions and more.
Food: Also there on Sunday, you can eat at the Belgian Waffle Breakfast, 9am-1pm, $6 ahead or $6.50 at the door. Children under 5 eat free.
I hope some BFW folks can come. Then come to Pierre with us for Bread Days if you can. Once again, here is the info about that: