Entries Tagged 'Taxes' ↓

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.

exemptions

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.
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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?”

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