Entries Tagged 'Taxes' ↓

West River math VS. East River math

So this is an interesting story;

RCSD – $250m – $20/month increase in property taxes on every $100,000 of value  =  $240 yr
Morrison/Vik/Maher MATH:
SFSD – $190m – $2/month increase in property taxes on $100,000  =  $24 yr
So which finance director is telling the truth?
I do know that the SFSD rearranged their capital outlay levees, but the disparity is strange. I also wonder if they plan to pay off the bonds a lot faster in RC?

UPDATE: Is Sioux Steel Development looking for a ‘Massive’ Record Breaking TIF?

UPDATE: Big Thanks to Snevelicious for following up on this story!

So this is taking place next Thursday, April 11 (City Council Meeting Calendar)

4 PM Architecture Ideas and Presentations

Held at the receiving building of Sioux Steel Company, 196 1/2 E. 6th St.

Please park on the west side of the Sioux Steel Building or in The Market

5 PM Heavy appetizers and drinks at The Market, 196 E. 6th St

The Sioux Steel Development folks have already mentioned they want to build a 900 stall parking ramp (or around that size) they have also mentioned using TIF. What they haven’t said is how much. I believe the largest TIF ever given out in Sioux Falls was for the Sanford Sports Complex (I can’t remember the actual dollar amount, but I think it was $9 million and I believe 20 years). The rumor going around is that the Sioux Steel will be asking for a TIF in the amount to cover the construction costs of the parking ramp a number that could range between $20-30 Million dollars. The largest TIF ever given out in the history of the city. It also seems the event next week is away to smooze the city council into this.

Some would look at this as an ‘opportunity’ for the city to get out of paying for a parking ramp like we did Downtown already, but as I look at it, we shouldn’t be contributing anything. TIFs are the largest form of corporate welfare. We should be focusing tax incentives on rebuilding our neighborhoods.

Oh, but it gets even better. Another developer is rumored to be offering the city to buy some of the RR redevelopment land. He said he doesn’t want any TIFs or tax reductions, but he is only willing to pay HALF of the appraised value. They always have to have something. This developer has already raked the city over the coals for other DT developments along the river greenway.

I think it is ironic that all these FREE market, ant-socialist Republican developers in town are the biggest socialists of them all. Maybe we should rename the area ‘Karl Marx Greenway’.

CVB & Hoteliers talk ‘BID TAX’ on Air BNB

I guess the CVB had a luncheon (today?) and a little birdy told me the discussion quickly went to how Air BNB is hurting the hotel industry in Sioux Falls and maybe it is time to start charging them a Bid Tax.

Gee. I wonder whose idea that was? Probably some idiot blogger.

The operators of Air BNB already have skirted paying other lodging taxes (they pay sales taxes) and avoid the same health inspections Hotels, Motels and Bed & Breakfasts have to endure.

Maybe it was just idle bitching, but I have never known the leader of the CVB to remain idle to long.

UPDATE: Correction on Tax Incentives for Dakota Gold

There seems to be some confusion of where Dakota Gold Alliance was previously located and what the tax incentive is for. I have to do some more digging.

There was a group of properties in the area by the old Avera Sports Dome. The ownership group was listed under Leggett Family Trust. While researching County tax records, they had Dakota Gold listed to the property (which is a possibility because it is a warehouse that could be used for storage, and warehouses fall under the ‘INDUSTRIAL’ designation for tax reductions). Another source tells me that Dakota Gold was located at another office in that cluster, but that would have been their formal offices. So the tax reduction was for the warehouse, I’m just not sure at this point if Dakota Gold was using the warehouse at that time, and perhaps that is why they were listed on the tax records.

Folks, this is what happens when secretive administrations don’t tell the public or council anything for almost a decade.

According to a city ordinance that was passed by the city council in 2008;

March 3rd, 2008 – Sioux Falls City Council



Document:  Ord. 1017

Proposed Amendment:

Section 39-139. Discretionary formula report:

In July of each year, the assistant director of planning and building services shall submit a report to the city council of all eligible completed new construction projects which qualified for the discretionary formula beginning in December of 2008. The report will include the description of each qualified property, the base full and true taxable value, the new adjusted full value of new construction and improvements, and the amount of discretionary loss of taxable value as defined in city ordinance of 100%, 80%, 60%, 40% or 20% for each year of the eligible tax abatement.

In other words, by city charter, the city council was supposed to see yearly reports. This gets more interesting by the day.


More tax incentive for developers

I guess if you have a lot of money, you get all the price breaks. According to the City in this informational presentation (PDF DOC: Tax Reduction Program – Informational Jan. 8.pdf;

Reduced Property Taxation

Any person desiring to claim reduced taxation on new construction shall make application to the Planning and Development Services Department on or before October 1 in the year in which the project is completed and shall first appear on the tax rolls as a completed or modified structure. The application shall be submitted on a form prescribed by the city. Upon Planning and Development Services’ approval of the application, the staff shall notify the applicant within 30 days stating whether the facility is eligible to receive reduced taxation.

Since 2008 the City has reduced approximately $14 million in property taxes. Seems strange when we are trying to find money for new infrastructure, like a sewer plant, we would be allowing these many cuts.

One of the arguments for these cuts is that the businesses will create jobs;

Review the requirements for projects to receive incentive:

◦ Job creation

◦ Types of jobs

◦ Increase in Tax base

Do we really believe with the wages these places are paying they will make up the $14 million in unpaid taxes? I think a requirement that should be under review is if these properties are paying living wages. Otherwise it is no different then TIFs, just another corporate welfare program.

IM 25 is a bad way to fund education

Forget the fact that IM 25 will probably become a slush fund for state government, it is a horrible way to fund Technical education.

Am I against increasing tobacco taxes? Not at all, if the money was directed at cessation, prevention, healthcare or even drug treatment programs, I would be all for it.

So the question remains, how do we fund Technical education? The first question we have to answer is “Why is South Dakota the highest in the region for tuition?” My educated guess (no pun intended) is because of high administrative costs and staffing. I know the teachers are NOT making highest wages in the region, in fact most tech teachers make less than K-12 instructors.

So after we get that part straightened out, how do we get costs down for the students? I think it is simple. First, make apprentice programs easier, and pay the apprentice. Many of these students could skip technical education all together and start in these jobs right out of HS.

As for the more technical skills for the medical field, electronics, engineering, etc. make the industries that need these positions the most pay into a scholarship fund that students can apply for with the agreement they will work in SD for so many years.

If we want extra money for tech schools, shouldn’t the employers who need these employees pay into a special fund or tax since they are the ones benefitting from reduced tuitions with skilled labor? Seems like an easy solution that makes sense.

Still don’t know how they linked tobacco to tech schools. Of course, we only have to look at the clown who cooked this up, Former Lord of the Lords, Mark Mickelson who wants to make money off of the backs of poor smokers. Some things never change in South Dakota, the business elite want handouts and welfare and they want the poor to pay for it.

And this is why IM 25 is Lame, just like it’s creator. VOTE NO!

UPDATE: If you watch the Rotary debate today, both Noem and Sutton voted against IM 25 and cited some of the same reasons I stated above for voting against it (and I posted this before watching the debate – HA!)

UPDATE: SFSD sends $100 million in interest payments to East Coast Bond Investors

UPDATE: It was fun watching the SFSD Board Meeting in which they quickly glazed over the finances so they could have a 10 minute presentation about marching band (don’t get me wrong, it was a great presentation) I just thought talking about tax payers expenses would have garnered the same attention.

When they did get to the Demographic report where they mentioned almost 50% of students are on Free or Reduced lunches, Board Member Kate Parker said, “We need to talk about that one of these days?” Well since this has been on the climb for almost a decade, when will that ‘magically day’ come Kate? When it hits 70%, 80% or maybe 90%? It always chaps my hide when we are constantly screaming teachers need to get paid more in SD (I agree, they do) but all wages in this state need to rise, so parents of these students can afford to feed their children, rising tides raises all boats.

As I predicted before the school district bond election, we were going to take out bonds which would cost around $100 million in interest payments over 20 years. Those interest payments DON’T go towards education, they DON’T go towards teacher pay, programming, or even building the new facilities. They go towards East Coast bond investors.

This was the fundamental issue with the bonding. We could have bonded less, built the schools we need now AND paid for the future schools through Capital Outlay. We would have still had to pay bond investors, but it would have saved us about $50 million. I will say it again, I am all for public education, I am even NOT against my taxes going up for it. But with all of our growth in SF we can pay for these projects as we need them with the current tax structure. We don’t need to line the pockets of Bond Investors.

50% of Capital Outlay goes towards debt service

This finance report is very telling;

Over half of our current Capital Outlay goes towards debt service. No where in the reports can I find the school district’s current debt (before taking out $300 million in bonds). But my educated guess is somewhere between $100-200 million. This would have been an important side note before we took out even more debt before the election.

Demographics Report of the SFSD

It seems we have a lot of smart people in the District educating our very poor student body;

As you can see, the more students that are enrolled in our elementary system need more assistance.

*What I also find interesting about posting the Monday agenda for the SFSD board meetings is that the final documents and attachments don’t get updated until Sunday. Is it because a school district employee is posting these docs on Sunday? Probably not. There is this little trick with the internets where you can ‘time stamp’ postings. I do it all the time with my blog. In other words I can schedule a post well in advance by using a ‘time stamp’. This tells me the District has this information in advance but chooses to post it only 24 hours before the public can view it. Why do they do that? Well that is a very good question.

UPDATE: Is the TenHaken Administration getting ready to get ‘TIFaliscious’?

Well, that wasn’t to tough, they got Brian Allen at KSFY to roll over and talk about how great TIFs are. Funny, the important part missing from Allen’s story, the actual economic impact;

A KSFY review of active Tax Increment Financing projects in Iowa, Minnesota and South Dakota shows there is a dramatic drop-off in TIF usage.

You know why? Because several studies have been done showing they have very little economic impact. I also find if comical that Allen only interviewed PRO TIF folks and NO one who is against them. I also like how some in the interview talk about how South Dakota does them ‘different’. Good stuff. Yet there has been NO extensive study done in South Dakota showing the actual economic impact of them. Why? Because the results would be grim.

What other people don’t realize is that when we give wealthy developers TIFs we all pay more in property taxes to supplement them to fund things like our counties, cities and public education.

I think the TenHaken administration is gearing up to start handing them out, literally like candy. His COS, Beck, wrote the Sanford Sports Complex TIF while working for the city (the largest in state history) and she also wrote the most recent one while working for Lloyd Companies for the Cascade project that is mostly marketplace apartments.

Tonight the city is hiring a finance director who worked for the Costello Companies (a major developer in SF) who is also an expert in TIFs.

It is pretty clear to me they are getting us prepped and they are probably chiding our local media behind the scenes to talk about the ‘positivity’ of TIFs.

Let’s face it, they are simply a tax rebate for private developers who could easily pay the taxes with or without the TIF. We don’t have a growth problem in Sioux Falls. In fact we are developing so much and building so fast we can’t hire people fast enough. The city council even gave SE Tech $100K for more job training programs. This tells me we don’t need to be subsidizing growth and development in Sioux Falls, it actually tells me we need to find ways to slow this growth and concentrate on SMART-STEADY growth not FAST URBAN SPRAWL.

The TIF model in itself isn’t a bad idea, but I think it should be applied to cleaning up neighborhoods. Giving tax rebates to single family homeowners and small apartment owners to clean up the neighborhoods would be a better approach, and it would be a visible economic impact. When individuals have to spend less on taxes and divert that money to improving their properties and lives that means they spend more money on other things that help with sales tax revenue that truly impacts our community. Businesses who use TIFs to expand their businesses don’t pay sales taxes, they just collect them. Give the rebates to individuals who will actually use them to improve lives and contribute to sales tax revenue.

Let’s face it, TIFs right now are truly ‘Corporate Welfare’ and not much else.

UPDATE: Did anyone catch Dusty Johnson in the interview? Mr. Fiscal Conservative ANTI-WELFARE wants to raise the Social Security age gladly preaching the ‘WINS’ about TIFs? We know exactly what Dusty would do in Congress, handout to big business while stepping on the little guy. If I was the Bjorkman campaign I would be clipping this little piece of corporate welfare pie for a future TV commercial.

Harrisburg School District proposing a $40 Million bond with NO tax increases

I know, you must be scratching your head a little, as am I. How can the Harrisburg school district propose a $40 million dollar bond without a tax increase? Oh, I don’t know, it’s that little thing called GROWTH!

Rasmussen said there are enough new homes and businesses in the district to support the proposed $40 million dollar bond vote without increasing taxes.

This was my argument about the SFSD bond, with record breaking building permits for over 6 years and the massive growth in Sioux Falls, why would we have to increase property taxes for our bond? Or better yet just build the schools out of the capital outlay without bonding and paying a $100 million in interest. How can a small community like Harrisburg figure out this simple math problem and NOT Sioux Falls? Sometimes arrogance gets in the way of prudence.

I think it would be safe to assume that the Harrisburg bond will pass the 60% threshold easily, especially with NO tax increases. It will just be interesting to see if they hit 85%. Yeah right.

UPDATE: All I asked was to audit the School Board Election

If you watch my testimony (FF:32:30) you will see that all I did was ask questions about how the vote was counted, presented historical data from other elections and asked to audit the election (see the processes, the software used, the paperwork from vote transfers and who entered the numbers in the system). The school board refused to answer any of the questions I asked. Never once did I say I thought they cheated I only questioned the precedent and would like to see the evidence. I even ended by saying that they may have reached the 85% precedent. I don’t know, I don’t have the evidence, it is locked up with the ballots according to the school district official who handled the election Bev Chase. In fact after the meeting Bruce and I asked if we could examine the ballots. She said NO. She also claimed she told the (TV) news that she was shredding the 2017 ballots. The news may have edited her, so I will take her word. But in the next breath she said she is keeping the school bond ballots for 6 years. So if you are keeping those ballots for 6 years why are you destroying the 2017 ballots? Made no sense at all.


UPDATE: First the important business. A shout out to friend of the blog and KSOO Host, Patrick Lalley for defending me today and open government. It meant a lot. He hasn’t put the replay up yet, but his comment about ‘Soviet Election Results’ was very comical.

Also another shout out to Stace Nelson for defending me on the tweet machine;

It is absolutely the right of a taxpayer to question their government & demand answers. In a state that has covered up hundreds of millions of $ in corruption in EB5 & GEAR Up? had a right to ask the questions and receive answers. Why not machine count?

As for Stace’s comments on machine counting, I got an update from someone who talked to the Minnehaha county auditor on the ‘cancelled contract’ statements from the SFSD. I guess Mr. Litz was asked to handle the absentee but not the election. Litz felt this would complicate things with the verification process and he would prefer to run the entire election (absentee and regular election) or not at all. We know the choice the school district made.

Also, a city official asked the City Clerk, Tom Greco today what he would do if a citizen asked to look at the ballots from the last election? He said, he would let them look at them.

Funny how the County Auditor and City Clerk have no qualms about the work they did. Why? Because when you have checks and balances in place, you don’t need to worry about a citizen review.


Besides NOT answering my questions or giving me the information I need to put this to rest, board member Mickelson said that I was accusing them of manipulation and it was my duty to provide evidence or proof. Um, maybe I am missing something here, but YOU hold the evidence and Bev Chase refused to give it to us.

It is a sad day in a democracy when the citizens who vote and pay taxes are not allowed to examine the processes of the election. It is even sadder that they couldn’t even answer my questions in a public forum. Petitions get challenged all the time in South Dakota. This doesn’t mean people don’t trust the process, it only means we want to check the process. I find it incredibly hypocritical of Mickelson getting upset over challenging the results of the election when her husband Mark led the charge to overturn the will of the voters on IM 22, claiming it was ‘Unconstitutional’ (even though the Supreme Court didn’t get a chance to review it) and voters were ‘hoodwinked.’ So I guess what Cynthia was telling me is that ONLY the House of Lords in Pierre have the power to challenge and overturn elections, the peasants be damned.

All I saw tonight was a lot of guilt, and ironically the main players in the election (school staff) sat mysteriously quiet while the school board defended them. Cat must of had their tongues.

I would even be comfortable with Bev Chase releasing a public statement telling us the processes they used, who counted the votes, how they were entered into the system and a sampling of how the software worked. They can’t even give us that. Why?! It seems incredibly silly to me to get so angry because we are asking how the election was handled. Is that some kind of top secret information? All we have at this point is a short FB video from Brady Mallory. Why not clear the air?

Through the beginning of the meeting when they were talking about the schools they were going to build, the locations and announcing the architect (Architecture Inc.) it seemed like a forgone conclusion that this would pass.

In the parking lot before the meeting Vernon Brown came up from behind me and said, “85 is my new favorite number.” I laughed and said, “Yeah, 85%.” Then I said, “About time Ellie won something.” Ellie Highstreet who received $21K to consult the Vote Yes campaign was Jim Entenman’s campaign consultant. That in itself should tell us something.

Like I said, it is impossible for me to say whether or not the 85% mark is accurate until we have a chance to audit and examine all the election documentation and processes. Historically in other similar elections in and around Sioux Falls it has never happened. But there is a first time for everything, unfortunately we may never know, because as they inferred many times tonight, “Just trust them, they’re good people.” I do trust people, but I trust the numbers more. Numbers don’t lie.