Consulting and Professional Services fees doubling over the past three years for the City of Sioux Falls

Tonight’s informational meeting for the Sioux Falls city council could get a little ‘dicey’ to say the least. The audit that councilor Staggers asked for last summer has finally came out, and the results are astonishing. City Hall has done it’s best to stall the audit, saying Staggers’ request had political motives and what good would it be to know those amounts. As you can see below, there is a reason City Hall has been delaying the audit.

SPECIAL PROJECT

 

Consulting fees jumped almost a 100% in two years and the most shocking is professional services jumped from $16 million to $34 million in 3 years. This is appalling on two fronts. First off the city should be spending less, not more, especially in this economy and I don’t care how out of control inflation may be, there is no excuse whatsoever for a $16 million dollar jump over a three year period. It is pretty obvious that there is a lot of hogs at the trough of city hall and Munson has the feeding pail. I hope Staggers takes them to task tonight over the out of control spending, we’ll see if Northside Davey has the gonads to show up to the meeting tonight.

SEE THE FULL AUDIT HERE



12 comments ↓

#1 John on 03.30.09 at 7:38 am

Almost a $100k increase in publishing. How many calendars will that buy? Or L&S will get another big kickback.

#2 l3wis on 03.30.09 at 7:50 am

Yeah, and the city has their own media department! Maybe they need to put in a printing press to.

#3 John2 on 03.30.09 at 9:09 am

More evidence that the “small gubermint” neocons are in action. Amazing!

#4 John on 03.30.09 at 9:57 am

Spin costs a lot these days. An extra $100K. The Face Book page must not be working as well as they thought!

#5 Costner on 03.30.09 at 11:07 am

The increase in printing costs is due to the leaflets they are printing in support of their ideas. They plan to have them dropped to the public during this summer’s air show ala World War II style.

In all seriousness – this increase in consulting fees is disgusting and I’d bet there are millions being paid in the form of “back scratching fees”.

Staggers for Mayor. It’s that simple.

#6 l3wis on 03.30.09 at 11:16 am

I still haven’t gotten laid from using Facebook yet. Maybe I need to start ‘Sexting’ on there, maybe that will increase my chances.

I guarantee Munson is getting a Golden Parachute.

#7 Warren Phear on 03.30.09 at 11:38 am

“I guarantee Munson is getting a Golden Parachute.”

Oh how right you are l3wis. I like to save stuff. Here’s something I saved to a file about our fair city.

City workers bank millions in benefits
Big payouts from sick time boost pensions
JONATHAN ELLIS
jonellis@argusleader.com
June 18, 2006

Steve Metli reached the heights of his career by the time he retired from the city of Sioux Falls. As the city’s director of planning and building services, Metli earned $108,700 a year when he left last year.

And like most retiring city employees, Metli was rewarded when he departed: His last paycheck included an extra $53,654.

Metli earned the money through a program that pays retiring employees for unused sick time and vacation hours. The payouts are common in government but unavailable to most workers in the private sector…

…Since 2004, the city has spent almost $1.6 million on payouts to 68 employees who retired, an average of $23,392 per employee.

The largest chunk of that $1.6 million came in the form of payouts for unused sick-time.

The payouts represent one of the spoils of government service with the city: Employees are allowed to amass unlimited hours of sick time and then cash out a portion of them when they retire.

In the private sector, employees generally operate under a use-it-or-lose-it system, where sick time is a benefit for the truly sick.

At the end of last year, the city had a long-term debt of accrued sick leave worth $5.6 million, according to an audit released in April.

And it’s a benefit that keeps giving.

Payouts are applied to an employee’s final year of salary, which is then used to calculate lifetime pension benefits.

An employee’s pension is based on an average of the highest three years of salary during his final 10 years of service with the city. For example, an employee who earned $75,000 in salary and retired with a $25,000 payout would have $100,000 for one of the three years used to calculate pension benefits…

What cost to taxpayers?

It’s an expensive benefit for the city’s taxpayers, Holsen said, and city employees are fiercely protective of it.

“They’re very important issues to the collective-bargaining members,” she said.

“I would classify this as a sacred benefit.”…

Critics say the payouts are fraught with abuse.

“It’s lavish perks like these that help turn the average taxpayer’s life into a struggle,” said Tom Finnigan, spokesman for Citizens Against Government Waste, a watchdog group that monitors government spending…

“It’s almost unheard of in the private sector,” said Charles Fay, a professor at the School of Management and Labor Relations at Rutgers University. “Sick leave in the private sector is almost entirely use-it-or-lose-it.”

According to a 1999 study by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 9 percent of employees in mid- and large-sized private-sector businesses had the benefit of cashing in some of their unused sick time. Fay, who has written about government compensation and worked as a consultant for the Bureau of Labor Statistics, said sick-time payouts are standard benefits in the public sector.

Some smaller towns in New Jersey, Fay said, have been almost wiped out by employees who retired with decades worth of banked sick time.

“It can really add up,” he said…

Restructuring those contracts has proved touchy in Sioux Falls.

In 1997, then-Mayor Gary Hanson succeeded in lowering the cap on vacation payouts:

For 40-hour-a-week employees not in a union, the payout cap was lowered from 480 hours to 280 hours.

Fire shift employees saw the cap drop from 572 hours to 312.

The caps for other union members went from 440 hours to 240 hours.

It wasn’t a popular move among employees.

“Negotiations with any organization, when it involves pay and benefit issues, are extremely treacherous, especially for elected officials,” Hanson said.
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I’m all for unions. And the city certainly needs one. Without it, the average city employee would work to the grave, and guys like metli would have retired with an even larger golden parachute. I’m also for getting something in return for banked sick leave. Use it or lose it is a recipe for disaster. But applying that payout towards lifetime pension payouts is certainly going to break the backs of the SF taxpayer.

#8 l3wis on 03.30.09 at 12:00 pm

At my work we build up our vacation based on hours we work, and we get paid holidays. But at the beginning of the year we get an automatice 40 hours of ‘personal time’ This is supposed to be used for sick, doctor’s appointments, funerals, etc. But we can use it for anything really.

I’m thinking more along the lines that Munson is getting a ‘job’ like Metli did. I think Metli works for a bank now. I also have a suspician, but no proof that he has ties to one of the biggest developers in Sioux Falls, not sure if he is an investor with him or just friends, but those two are attached at the hip, anytime you see one, you see the other. I just find it ironic that Metli worked as a planner for the city for over 20 years and everytime you see him in public he is with one of the biggest developers in town. We’ll see what ‘job’ awaits Dave.

#9 Warren Phear on 03.30.09 at 12:17 pm

I’ve seen those two together downtown when we go to any number of our summertime “beer” fests the city throws. They look like mutt and jeff. Yeah…it is somehow strange that the river developement dream area is being built by metli’s drinking buddy. I’m sure with a huge tax burden lifted as per the jamison suggestion.

#10 l3wis on 03.30.09 at 12:26 pm

Who knows.

I will say this, with all the bologna coming out lately about the city and some of the councilors, you are gonna see a clusterfuck of a city election next year, everyone and their grandma will be running, and I guarantee Lloyd will be throwing so many fundraising parties he may have to join AA by the time the election rolls around or Gambler’s Anonymous, or both.

One potential candidate said they are going to probably start going door to door this summer to get name recognition out there – I told them that was a great idea.

#11 Ghost of Dude on 03.30.09 at 2:25 pm

Care to share the person’s name? I’d like to recognize them when they come by.

Pensions are a big part of what’s killing the auto industry. They’re expensive, unwieldy, and kind of old-fashioned. A better idea is the government worker (or non-profit worker)equivalent of a 401k. That puts more of the saving responsibility on the employee but still provides a match by the employer (or not, if the budget is too tight). It also allows for more freedom for the employee to invest where he/she wants, and less potential for misuse of funds by the employer (would you put it past the city to raid the pension fund for a pet project?).

#12 l3wis on 03.30.09 at 2:37 pm

I agree, pensions have kinda ran there course. Look at the Enron debacle. I agree that employees should control their investments better. I know with the shape the economy is in now, I am glad I control my investments.

You know the candidate I am talking about, but they haven’t really announced yet, so I don’t want to say anything.

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