Are our water rates going up to provide better service?

UPDATE: This is the results of the Argue Endorser’s poll yesterday.

If you read over all the documents when it comes to our water department you will find some glaring facts. While our city would like to proclaim rates need to go up due to the cost of chemicals, they are only telling HALF of the story, literally. Notice from this chart that 51% of expenses are in wages.

We also have a problem with heavy management (see the convuluted document here)

There should be three managers. Director of Public Works, Director of Water and Director of Reclamation (Sewer). That’s it. Wanna know why rates are going up? Too much management. I don’t have a problem with paying management well. That is not the problem here. There seems to be too much management. Take for instance the ‘Residue coordinator’ and the ‘WW super’ and the ‘collection super’ Couldn’t that be one manager? I work in the restaurant business, and management is expected to know every duty, from washing dishes, grilling a steak to waiting on a table. Not sure why in the public sector they need to have so many specialized managers?


#1 Charlie on 06.07.11 at 4:18 pm

It seems like it may be top heavy but it would be better if we could see the entire org chart.

#2 ydkm on 06.07.11 at 4:35 pm

Not enough information yet. I do know I want the most qualified people running the water and sewer departments….don’t want unsafe drinking water coming through my faucets. If that means they have to hire qualified people and pay them a salary commensurate with the credentials necessary to do do the job to keep water safe, then so be it. Tough to tell yet from info posted. But I am sure there will be enough posts screaming about high salaries because we all know public employees should work for minimum wage.

#3 CCFlyer on 06.07.11 at 5:41 pm

Am I wrong, or is “Management” spelled incorrectly in their report?

#4 l3wis on 06.07.11 at 6:41 pm

I am not opposed to paying the little guy for keeping our water safe. It is not about them. What I cannot figure out is why we have 9 managers (Besides Cotter) for a water system that only provides water to 155,000 people. This isn’t Atlanta folks. On top of that, even with those 10 collective heads they have to hire a private consulting firm to give them answers. And if you look at the entire salary document, you will see this goes on in every department. Take for instance the LIGHT department, which only provides power to a little over 2,600 customers, go look at what that guy makes. Wow, talk about over compensation. Also of the above management, how many women do you see? It’s like that in most of the departments. I started looking into this because someone asked me to, and I am shocked by the disparities. We have a city awash in middle management.

Carter – I did the second chart, I mis-spelled management. Sorry.

#5 Poly43 on 06.07.11 at 6:41 pm

Just a few things you have to ask yourself about city government. Not just SF either. Why the need for so many mid to upper level management positions? Take our own city Human Resources Department. A director, pulling down about $120,000. FOUR managers making on average $80,000 apiece. And then the front line troops, all 5 or 6 of them that hold down the fort for about 40 g’s apiece. If the city has so many mid and upper level management positions WHY did they budget over $34,000,000.00 in 2009 to “outside” professional services? You’d think with that many “professional” managers we would have no need for outside consultation.

#6 Poly43 on 06.07.11 at 6:45 pm

Hey l3wis. I see both our last posts were made at 6:41. I guess great minds think alike. 🙂

#7 l3wis on 06.07.11 at 6:48 pm

I just saw that too? BAHAHAHAHAHA. Maybe I am your bastard son?

#8 Dave on 06.07.11 at 8:54 pm

Also know, they get a 5% 401k or 557 match since they are part of management. 5% of $800,000 is $40,000. This is just in that department. My task to Dacola is to figure out how much City of Sioux Falls Management gets paid in matches when they wont give the low paid worker a COLA.

#9 Dave on 06.07.11 at 8:54 pm

457 not 557

#10 l3wis on 06.07.11 at 9:57 pm

Dave – You point out something that has chapped my hide for awhile. While the peons get shafted the management continues to get these benefits AND bonuses. WTF! Aren’t bonuses based on profits? You work for the taxpayers? Why would you get a bonus? This is fishy all the way around.

#11 Pathloss on 06.07.11 at 11:41 pm

To many chiefs. Not enough indians.

#12 l3wis on 06.08.11 at 5:55 am

That was going to be the title of my post.

#13 l3wis on 06.08.11 at 5:57 am

Like I told Stehly yesterday, I will rail against these rate hikes, but I know in the end every single one of the councilors will approve the rate hikes w/o questioning the directors on what they spend money on.

#14 l3wis on 06.08.11 at 6:49 am

At the end of the city council meeting Monday, Vernon Brown got on his soapbox about increasing rates. He was hooping and hollering about how sales taxes had to supplement water reclamation over the past years because rates weren’t high enough. True. He went on a tirade about ‘That is why we have to have these rate increases.’ No you don’t. There is one word I have not heard in this entire discussion, ‘CUTS!’. Has anyone, including yourself Vernon, questioned the spending of the water department? We continue to approve these rate increases but never question the spending. Seems silly. When I get my car worked on. I ask how much for parts, how much for labor, and if it seems high, I ask why. I also look over my invoice carefully before paying. Why isn’t our city council asking for an expense report? Why isn’t the city council asking about management? Instead they just sit on their hands and go, ‘It’s expensive, so we have to raise rates.’ Vernon also goes on to chide the water rate opposition people for not being there during his tirade. Vernon, I don’t think you are stupid, but by not questioning the expenses of the Water Reclam department, you are acting stupid.

#15 Poly43 on 06.08.11 at 8:48 am

…figure out how much City of Sioux Falls Management gets paid in matches when they wont give the low paid worker a COLA.

That $40,000 in 457 money is only one department out of twelve. Some departments, like the Fire and Police, have oodles more in management or at least 457 qualified. The sums are surely much higher than just taking twelve times $40,000. Problem in even trying to get a handle on it. Sure. The Argus used to print city salaries. There webpage even has a salary breakdown. Can be sorted in any manner imagineable. Problem is, the salaries are from 2007. That’s the problem with the Argus, four years late and a dollar short. The city on the otherhand is required by city charter to publicly post salaries. After all…they do work for us…the TAXPAYER. They used to list them each January in the Argus. Not anymore. Have to go to They list salaries for about 1500 employees each year. 1100 fulltime. 400 part time. Absolutely no rhymn or reason to any of it. Not listed by department, seniority, salary, nothin. Like they put everyones name in a hat and drew them out and listed that way. There is a reason for being listed that way. They want to make it jusrt as difficult as possible for Joe SixPack to do any kind of research on city salaries.

And don’t feel to sorry for the low paid front line workers in the city. Most, if not all, are more than fairly compensated for their job description compared to similar jobs in this fine city. Most Joe SixPacks think COLA is something you use when “spiking” a drink, or the ending in some weird blog site they’ve been hearing about. And don’t get me started on city “spiked” pension plans.

#16 CCFlyer on 06.08.11 at 3:39 pm

No worries L3wis, it just wouldn’t have surprised me to see something like that come from our confused City Hall.

#17 John2 on 06.10.11 at 9:10 pm

You nailed it l3wis. The pathetic fact is that South Dakota is in love with, is addicted to government – especially redundant, ineffective, and inefficient local government – from towns, to counties, to school districts, higher education, and state government.

#18 l3wis on 06.10.11 at 11:16 pm

J2 – I want to clarify something. I think our water department does a fantastic job. I have owned my house for 8 years and have only once had my water shut off because of problems. That is not the point. The point is that government needs to do a great job, but they also must cut waste. I find double digit increases year after year questionable when 51% of your costs are personnel. Are we paying for better service and infrastructure upgrades or are we paying for unneeded management and benefits? I wish I knew the answer, but our councilors are too chickenshit to ask. Jamison told me on the phone that he wanted to ask for an audit of the water/reclam departments expenses. Hopefully he will do this Monday while deferring the rate increase.

#19 John2 on 06.11.11 at 8:30 pm

l3 – no doubt the service is good; it should be six-sigma. And that should be accomplished without annual double-digit increases and, apparently bloated, administration.

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