Why do some city officials want to refuse FEMA Money?

Why are we so adamant about not excepting this money?

A few questions to ask;

Would this allocation come with an audit of how the city spends the money? Are some in the city wanting to hide our books?

Remember when we refused to WAIT for CORPs money for the levees and paid for it ourselves? Why?

How about all the dilly-dallying around on the RR relocation project and money promised after environmental assessments?

And now we don’t want to take the money for ice storm cleanup.

You also have to take into account that this is OUR money. We pay federal income taxes, so this really isn’t a handout, it is money we paid in.

What is the city hiding that they don’t want us to know? Hmmm.


#1 cr on 05.24.13 at 6:57 pm

In today’s edition of the Argus Leader:

Editorial: No thanks, FEMA, we’re good

We urge the city to turn down the money.

This country has financial problems, in part, because cities have just taken the money.


AND, how is this different from having our hand out for 35 million dollars for the relocation of three railroad tracks!!!

#2 Testor15 on 05.24.13 at 7:30 pm

How many years has the current outside auditor / CPA been doing Sioux Falls audits anyway?

Lessons learned by many 10 years ago following the Dot Com crash and then housing crash is the value of changing how the audits are done to uncover the crap being hidden.

The cities across the country currently in or near bankruptcy all bragged about having enough money to handle any ‘crisis’. These cities on deeper investigation were found to have been cooking the books to hide the sins of the ‘leaders’.

#3 Poly43 on 05.24.13 at 8:07 pm

Damn l3wis. I never dreamed a day like this would ever come. Me agreeing with knobe and not you!!!!!!


I don’t know where knobe gets his numbers from, but if they are even in the ballpark I gotta side with knobe and Kermit on this one.

#4 LJL on 05.24.13 at 10:55 pm

It was an ice storm not a hurricane. Trees were broken and we can’t pay for the clean up? We pay taxes for defense not twig removal.

The banquet serves everyone, no questions ask. Should we all line up for free food every meal because we can? We can afford event centers, pickle ball courts and snow gates but we can’t take care of our own branch removal. Pathetic.

It called principles. And it’s important to some of us to lead a principled life and teach our children the same.

#5 Poly43 on 05.25.13 at 12:15 am

SOB…..now I’m lockstep with ljl?!?!?

Bartender…another vodka tonic.

#6 Detroit Lewis on 05.25.13 at 12:33 am

“We pay taxes for defense not twig removal.”

That’s all we pay taxes for? LOL.

“The banquet serves everyone, no questions ask. Should we all line up for free food every meal because we can?”

How is the FEMA money Free? We pay Federal taxes, giving the money back to us is not a handout.

“It’s called principles.”

Huh? So we are going to refuse taxdollars that WE pay into because of principles?

#7 Testor15 on 05.25.13 at 7:27 am

This has turned into crazy talk. Good grief Charlie Brown. We have a ‘smart’ businessman in charge of our city government and he does not seem to care about the residual damage to the economy and city government piggy bank (sorry an urban ag reference).

The loss of our reserve account to a disaster will cost us, especially when we are borrowing so much money right now to do anything. The $45 million reserve balance the Mayor was bragging about being in the bank is actually borrowed money. We are paying interest on it to make the books look good.

Does anyone understand this? We have a city government bragging about $45 million in cash but not telling how they got it. We have $45,000,000 cash and $400,000,000.00 in long term payable debt obligations because they do not know how to save for a rainy day.

Who has control of the piggy bank? What will the economic wizards on the city council do to slow down the borrowing? L3wis is right, “Why are we so adamant about not excepting this money?”

As we learned in childhood, where there is smoke there is fire. Maybe the fire is city hall burning the audit path?

#8 Poly43 on 05.25.13 at 9:05 am

Under normal circumstances l3wis I would agree with you. But this is not a normal circumstance and you also cannot tell that as I type this my tongue is in cheek. I have heard the good mayor say the federal government is broke, that the city is as financially sound as any in America. If this is the way the mayor see’s it, then he should turn that money down.

By proxy, all he’s gonna do with that money when he gets it is turn Westport Avenue from Russell Ave to 60th st north from a two laner to five lanes.

#9 LJL on 05.25.13 at 9:26 am

Huh? So we are going to refuse taxdollars that WE pay into because of principles?

For TWIG removal Scott? Feds cut money for things like head start but they can pay for our TWIG REMOVAL???? Have some self respect and take pride that WE can take care of this ourselves.

As to the cooking the books angle, we are taint deep in debt because of our wants and rolling in cash reserves because the fed keeps paying for our needs. It’s moronic accounting but it’s also how government is done these days.

There’s hope for you POLY…..Open the shades a bit further and let a little more of that conservative light shine in. LOL

#10 Testor15 on 05.25.13 at 9:36 am

So by virtue of our collective mistrust of this Mayor to do any auditable good with the money, we should just turn down the assistance? This makes no sense. We must have councilors demanding and getting proper audits of all the city finances before he sinks us all.

Some of us do not trust him to do long term good for the town. Why should we blindly let him keep borrowing money with no very public auditing? The Pentagon TIFF was to be approximately $900,000 but the Mayor borrowed $9,000,000. Why? Where did it go? Is it part of the $45,000,000 cash reserve we now have?

Most people do not differentiate the difference between cash reserves, borrowed money, what’s in the checking account or general cash flow when hearing about $45,000,000 in cash waiting to be spent without proper controls. If it is in a ‘savings’ account, who is making the money off our town’s borrowing ability? Why are we borrowing money just to make a nice bank balance?

The day the Mayor could publicly state the city had a bank balance of $45 million, the city could have current payable obligations of $50 million. Money here today but gone tomorrow.

The day will come where we will have to pay for the storm cleanup and the city will have spent the $45,000,000 on entertainment venues not able to generate the funds to pay the bills.

#11 Testor15 on 05.25.13 at 9:45 am

Until there is complete top to bottom reform of the federal, state and local earmark / funding systems there will be no chance a ‘virtuous’ show of valor will on only hurt us now and in the future.

Our current funding mess has many forefathers. The Nixon administration’s efforts to reward their friends started the revenue sharing system of giving money to fund state programs. Its successor method by what of crooks Tom Delay / Newt Gingrich, we now have the earmark system in omnibus federal legislation. We in Sioux Falls have somehow screwed this process up. It is a very curious thing.

#12 Poly43 on 05.25.13 at 10:22 am

There’s hope for you POLY…..Open the shades a bit further and let a little more of that conservative light shine in. LOL

No chance LJL. Thanks for the invite but I’m always against corporate and political greed. And for social justice for Joe Sixpack. Your party fits neither of those criteria. *p*

#13 Elaine on 05.25.13 at 5:52 pm

If we take this money, will tornado victims get any less? Nope.

#14 LJL on 05.25.13 at 9:44 pm

“And for social justice for Joe Sixpack. Your party fits neither of those criteria.”

Kinda like your liberals freeing the poor and needy from government handouts and creating jobs.

Too funny. Stick to those Jo Stewart/ Crissy Mathews talking points.

Damn, looks like my carrots and radishes got frost bitten. Better start my paperwork for Federal crop loss payment.

#15 Poly43 on 05.25.13 at 10:16 pm

Damn, looks like my carrots and radishes got frost bitten. Better start my paperwork for Federal crop loss payment.

You need crop insurance for your carrots? Look up kristi noems husband. I’m sure he can help you out.

#16 PlanningStudent on 05.26.13 at 3:13 am

South Dakota receives more in federal tax dollars than we pay in.. So this is not our money.. It’s borrowed from china or paid by New Yorkers, not South Dakotans.. You have got to stop seeing conspiracies every where you look.

#17 John on 05.26.13 at 9:38 am

It’s pathetic to watch Sioux Falls consider following the electric utilities and farmers business model – ‘oh, it rained, oh, it snowed, oh, the wind blew — we better declare a disaster to get our federal welfare.’

It’s long past the time to ratchet up the threshold for declaring and receiving federal disaster assistance. In every case local whiners, local, and state politicians are at the heart of the systemic whining for the federal welfare bail outs.

#18 cr on 05.26.13 at 9:48 am

Who will make the decision regarding the FEMA funds? The Administration AND the Council?

If, ultimately, the decision is made to decline the FEMA money, maybe Sioux Falls citizens need to also consider refusing the federal EARMARK of 35 million dollars for the relocation of three out of five railroad tracks downtown.

The railroad tracks have been in place since the 1880’s, AND they certainly have not stopped our downtown area from progressing so far.

Is handing over millions of federal tax dollars to Warren Buffett’s railroad really the right thing to do?

Maybe a small community of ordinary citizens like ourselves could start a national trend of declining emergency funds and earmarks we do not need!

#19 Testor15 on 05.26.13 at 9:53 am

I still don’t know what is wrong with leaving the railroad where and how it is. The $35 million expenditure is a waste. The Railroad adds a vitality to the core and should be promoted.

#20 Detroit Lewis on 05.26.13 at 10:18 am

“You have got to stop seeing conspiracies every where you look.”

So your of the opinion that if we don’t look at something, we won’t find anything? You are right. That is why we must keep looking.

#21 Zamby on 05.26.13 at 1:36 pm

Zamby’s friend the ostrich keeps head in dirt to not see things is this the same thing Mr DL?

#22 rufusx on 05.26.13 at 3:07 pm

FEMA’s budget has been cut in each of the last 3 years. The total percentage of the Federal budget that the FEMA budget (including both day-to-day operations and disaster relief funding) represents is around 1/2 of 1 %. (.006). Military spending on the other hand is nearly 50% of the entire budget. SF turning down a few million will have ZERO impact of the federal debt/deficit. Many time more than that amount is spent on maintain the SD ANG at Foss field EVERY MONTH – protecting us from – Canadians? invading our airspace. Perspective people – perspective. This is a campaign stunt by a few local pols.

#23 rufusx on 05.26.13 at 3:17 pm

oops – sorry, I was off on my FEMA as a percentage of the budget estimate – it’s actually less than 1/4 of 1% (.002).

#24 rufusx on 05.26.13 at 3:23 pm

For a comparative example, how much is being spent to extend the runway safety zone at Foss Field? (please include the rebuilding of Elmwood as part of the expenditure). I’ll bet it’s a a heck of a lot more to any disaster relief amount the city would receive.

#25 cr on 05.26.13 at 3:51 pm

rufusx says:

SF turning down a few million will have ZERO impact on the federal debt/deficit.

Could it be that this type of attitude has helped us get to where we are at today?

#26 rufusx on 05.26.13 at 7:25 pm

cr – the money’s already in the budget. The only question is WHERE it will be spent – not IF.

#27 rufusx on 05.26.13 at 7:27 pm

Let me ask this question – do you wall think the government (at any level) is supposed to provide ANY service at all? If so WHAT? Whatever YOU personally want it to – or need it to – for YOUR benefit – and screw anybody else’s needs?

#28 rufusx on 05.26.13 at 7:29 pm

PS – if the clean-up costs are insignificant re: the city’s finances – how in H— can those exact same costs have ANY significant impact on the almost immeasurably larger Federal budget?

#29 rufusx on 05.26.13 at 7:31 pm

This “we don’t want it” stuff is grandstanding politicking at its finest.

#30 LJL on 05.26.13 at 8:39 pm

I think it’s clear rufusx. You and those that think like you are part of the problem.

Your “we will take all we can get because we can” is boorish at it’s finest and will keep our children in debt for generations.

#31 LJL on 05.26.13 at 8:55 pm

With the continued use of comparisons I make a few for for you on this memorial weekend.
This country was forced to ration it’s basic commodities during WWI and WWII. Meat, sugar, coffee, metal, fabric and flour. Women were asked to take up tools and build trucks, airplanes,tanks and bombs when they weren’t’ working in the fields to keep the farm going while the men were dying.

And you think that the government should pay for your twig removal. PATHETIC

#32 scott on 05.26.13 at 9:28 pm

If this were for so-called “economic development” the city couldn’t stick it’s hand out fast enough.

#33 Pathloss on 05.26.13 at 11:31 pm

I believe you’re right. The city doesn’t want federal audits. It would expose their developer handouts, contractor kickbacks, and events center bid rigging. Huether could do time in federal prison. A petition but he’s known for ignoring 20,000 signatures. There was a time when it was government of, by, and for the people. I’m tired of this Nazi and hope democracy can be restored.

#34 rufusx on 05.26.13 at 11:40 pm

Tell us LJL – what is money? Is it undebt? Or is money itself – debt (a promissory note)? Who is more wealthy, a man with a stack of dollar bills, or a man with a stack of skills? If the man with the skills trades some work of his for some of those bills, who then is in debt, and who has profited?

#35 rufusx on 05.26.13 at 11:43 pm

Which man would you rather be – with skills but no dollar bills, or with dollar bills but no skills?

#36 John on 05.27.13 at 7:46 am

Oh my gawd, it rained! Better declare another emergency!!

#37 cr on 05.27.13 at 8:15 am

scott says:

If this were for so-called “economic development” the city couldn’t stick it’s hand out fast enough.


Think: 35 million dollar federal earmark for proposed railroad relocation project

#38 OleSlewFoot on 05.27.13 at 8:43 am

If the counties were declared disaster areas, is it not the counties actually getting the money and not the City of SF? So smaller municipalities that may need help can get it anyway.


The rez must have got hit with a staggering amount of ice also during the storm.

#39 rufusx on 05.27.13 at 11:22 am

Scott and cr – in all actuality – the city hasn’t gotten its hand out of its own pocket YET on the RR relocation project, and the RR itself has also been refusing to shake on the deal.

#40 cr on 05.27.13 at 11:40 am

I’ve followed the railroad relocation project for over ten years, and……

Sioux Falls has already spent several million dollars of the earmark. What remains is approx 35m, and the City and Warren Buffett’s railroad (BNSF) are aggressively pursuing these federal dollars.

Taken directly from siouxfalls.org:

Project Milestones

Develop details on new alternative Sept. 2012
Update Project Management Plan Sept. 2012
Revise MOU Sept. 2012
SHPO and Section 4(f) Sept. 2012—April 2013
Drafting Preliminary EA Oct. 2012—Jan. 2013
Hold Public Meeting Jan. 31, 2013
Draft EA Completed April 2013
Hold Public Meeting May 2013
Final EA Completed July 2013
Rail Yard Purchase Dec. 2013

As the Mayor repeatedly states, he’s going “to get it done” by the end of 2013!!!!

#41 Winston on 05.28.13 at 1:27 pm

Most likely some of our city fathers and mothers want to use this refusal in a future economic development pitch to outside interests and developers. Its all image.

Will have to remember this stunt in the future, when the citizens are demanding a particular service or repair and the city fathers and mothers claim we cannot fit into the City budget…. “…. Well, if only we would have taken that FEMA money back in ’13…”… some of us will say.

#42 Detroit Lewis on 05.28.13 at 1:57 pm

They should have taken federal funding for the levees & Lewis & Clark but ‘we were fine’ on our own. It is silly.

#43 Alice15 on 05.28.13 at 3:03 pm

My husband and I had the conversation that we were a bit confused that the city was picking up EVERYONE’s damaged tree debris that will cost all taxpayers. Don’t get me wrong, it was a nice gesture, but we definitely could have done it ourselves and my thoughts are there are a whole host of others that could of as well. My approach would have been if you are able to remove your own debris, please do so and help your neighbors do the same, if not, the city will be around in the very near future to help you. Call me crazy – but I am still at a little bit of a loss why we didn’t allow people to help themselves and not cost the city further dollars.

With that said, I am more in favor of not taking the dollars or at least taking less. There are parts of this country that will not be the same for years and years because of mother nature. Two months later and we are pretty much cleaned up. Yes – Oklahoma will receive aid – but you don’t hold your hand out just because you can. Our devestation does not even come close to what mother nature can deal you.

As far as the railroad tracks -work and/or live DT and we’ll see if you feel the same about its removal. DT had different businesses thriving when they were created. There purpose has changed and it is time for them to be located elsewhere.

#44 Testor15 on 05.28.13 at 3:36 pm

We, town of Sioux Falls, don’t have our own money to do this, period. We as a community have massive borrowed money sitting in accounts committed to an events center, TIFs, entertainment centers and other assorted uses. We had a $45 million ‘cash’ balance on a certain day but for how long, before the bills come in.

We all must understand how cash can be played with to create illusions. The illusion MMM wanted to create was “Look how great I am as a leader” and “Look how great I am as a money manager” all the while playing slight of hand tricks of a salesman. The Wizard of Sioux Falls is telling us not to look behind the curtain.

He has sucked in all the councilors with his illusion tricks. Listen to the banter here and in the local media. Sioux Falls really is broke in more ways than cash.

The more I read the weak rationals for getting the funds due to us as a town, as citizens of the USA the realization the dumbing down of America really has taken hold. It is really is a simple understanding of micro and macro economic theory. To work with economic theory you must understand it is math and science with use of historical methods to arrive at the ramifications and conclusions. Consider this: pre-disaster a homeowner was planning to buy a car and school clothes, now has to cancel these plans in order to fix the shelter. The car dealer and the clothing store no longer has a customer. For a town to survive and grow after a disaster, the town must not rob ‘Peter to pay Paul’ with current cash, especially if the cash is already borrowed for the other purpose.

Sioux Falls has no cash reserves. Sioux Falls has borrowed money sitting in accounts to be spent on committed long-term projects. There is no uncommitted money sitting anywhere in the current city coffers. This is why the FEMA money is important to our town’s finances. Get on your high horses and shout at our members of congress for putting towns like ours in the situation we are in. Starving the town’s coffers is not good for us or the USA.

#45 Detroit Lewis on 05.28.13 at 3:44 pm

Alice, I would agree we should cleanup ourselves what we can, but you also have to realize a lot of these branches came from CITY OWNED boulevard trees. It should be their responsibility to clean up those branches, and if FEMA wants to help us with that, great.

Testor has a point, the storm has hurt our economy. I had to dole out $250 for something Excel should have paid for IMO. That is $250 I am not spending on other things that need to be fixed around my house.

#46 Alice15 on 05.28.13 at 4:16 pm

I hear all of your points on this and definitely agree with spending money on unexpected costs hits everyone. I guess my main point is I think we should always allow people that can help themselves to do so. Was hauling branches and large parts of trees from our backyard fun work?- nope, but there is a sense of pride when you work your buns off on something because you can. A handout is not always necessary for everyone and we are one example of where taxpayer dollars did not need to be spent.

#47 Testor15 on 05.28.13 at 5:02 pm

Alice this is not a handout situation. DL stated how the work the city did was to fix their tree problems. It also did so to assist the citizens in a PR effort. This is politics.

The underlying problem here is why the city is avoiding federal money. There is something not right with this avoidance and the mayor’s attempts to cut other budgets.

#48 Alice15 on 05.29.13 at 10:24 am

Don’t get me wrong, I have never thought the true intent of picking up everyone’s branches was because we can or it was the right thing to do and that probably started with the marketing campaign with all signage with the Mayor’s name on it. Seriously – how the hell do you stick your name on signage that is connected to a community mess/borderline disaster? Many will not see through this – but the miniscule amount of respect that I had left went far away when he promoted himself within this mess. Not your money, not your marketing campaign to take advantage of.

#49 Detroit Lewis on 05.29.13 at 2:49 pm

I saw in the paper today ‘Operation Branch-Out’ is looking for donations to help people who cannot afford branch cleanup. Oh the irony. The city is supposedly so flush in money we can refuse FEMA assistance, then have to create a charity drive to cleanup the branches. WTF?

#50 Poly43 on 05.29.13 at 2:54 pm

I’ve been gone awhile. Have we officially refused FEMA assistance?

#51 LJL on 05.29.13 at 10:04 pm

What part of this don’t you get Scott? The city is paying to haul away property owners debris, not to cut down the damage from the property. If you own property you should pay for it’s upkeep and repair. The donations if for those “like the elderly” who own property and have no cash to pay a trimmer.

Just like you thinking that Excel should have repaired your power mast, you don’t understand what you own and what you are responsible for.

People who buy formerly owned property don’t understand that power masts, sidewalks, sewer lines, driveways ect. were not free and paid for by the person who built the home. Just like the trees and the lawns. The city has done a great job removing the debris from the curbs because they know it would a huge problem trying to get some people to clean up their properties without the help.

I agree with Alice, it is not the responsibility of the city to remove this garbage but I know without our cities help certain parts of city would like hell for years without it. WE HAVE THREATEN LAZY PEOPLE TO MOW THEIR LAWN. i am willing for my property taxes to pay for this cleanup (a service which i did not use) for these reasons in times of emergency when so many were affected.

Will you liberals ever learn that the goverment is not your mother.

#52 Testor15 on 05.30.13 at 1:07 am

LJL, I guess we liberals are attempting to take conservative’s and corporatist’s hands out of the town’s bank account, so can all be treated equally.

Actually there are a great many of us who wish we could get the ‘leaders’ of the system to quit taking all of the pie for themselves. This is not a winner take all system of government. Since when do we have to give everything to the ‘special’ people? Since when do we have to give a big shove to the regular ‘guy’?

The special people give tokens to the regular guy, so the regular guy does not rise up in angst taking it all away from the specials. The people’s ability to petition is showing cracks in the system. Signs of angst are appearing. As the specials continue to take with abandon, they have forgotten the rule: do not to rile up the regulars.

20,000+ regulars (petition signers) have started to speak up and talk back to the specials.

The branch pickup, to put the city back in everyday working order, is basic service. The specials cannot drive the streets safely with all the downed branches, so they use the city’s borrowed money, sitting in the city’s borrowed money account, to make the place work again. When the city does not have to borrow money to perform basic services, the system will have been fixed. Right now the city is broke and broken.

#53 Craig on 05.30.13 at 10:05 am

I didn’t leave a single branch out on my boulevard for the city to pick up. I either hauled them away myself, or I cut them up into firewood (I lost several full grown trees).

However I’m glad the city offered the pickup service, because without it I’m sure there would still be piles of branches on lawns all throughout town. Well technically there still are – and I’m sure we will continue to see that for quite some time even after the official cleanup efforts are complete because some people are just slower than others.

Now does the city need to accept FEMA money for the cleanup? I can’t say – I don’t really know what the total cost is when you factor in the hours spent hauling, the costs of equipment, the months it will take to grind and dispose of the trees/branches and on an on.

So until I know what the costs are and how they may impact the city coffers it is probably premature to say we should or should not accept the funds.

That said, I can understand the resistance to accept money we don’t really need. If we can handle it ourselves then by all means we should, but we can say the same about every other project that takes federal dollars (and yes this includes moving railroad tracks to redevelop portions of downtown).

Taken a step further, we can say the same about some more local projects. The phrase of “you don’t hold your hand out just because you can” applies to more than just tree removal… it can even apply to something like a swim team asking (demanding) an indoor pool.

#54 Testor15 on 05.30.13 at 2:28 pm

One word. Audits.

#55 Alice15 on 05.30.13 at 3:22 pm

As I have said multiple times, if the swim team is demainding this facility, they should come to the table with something to offer just as hockey and tennis has.

#56 cr on 05.30.13 at 4:48 pm

Alice15, the last time the public voted down a public indoor pool (by a margin of 2 to1) was April 2007.

They’ve had SIX YEARS to raise funds for their cause.

I haven’t heard a thing, have you……!!!??

#57 pathloss on 05.30.13 at 6:06 pm

Wanted to be #57. This topic is prime news underreported by the media. Comment here is measurement. The big topic for KDLT tonight was the city changed their tree limb dropoff site.

#58 pathloss on 05.30.13 at 6:11 pm

57 because I had a ’57 Chevy 365 hp I raced when there was a strip at Marion. Hey, compared to local media, this is news.

#59 LJL on 05.31.13 at 9:39 am

Testor- “LJL, I guess we liberals are attempting to take conservative’s and corporatist’s hands out of the town’s bank account, so can all be treated equally.”

I got to get mine cause someone getting theirs. Thats says a lot about the mentality of our politics these days and sounds a lot like my 4 year and 2 year old’s conversations. I tell both of them to knock it off.

True conservatism is just appalled at pickle ball courts, river green ways and indoor pools than money for twigs. You can look at my former posts for proof. If we keep stealing from our own taxes what will be left for the things that we really need?

And you can point to Kristi Nome all you want but shes no conservative. Shes a thieving politician that branded herself as a conservative. She has never and will receive my vote. People like her and the other poor/wealthy farmers are diluting true conservatism and make caricatures for the likes of you to point out.

#60 Testor15 on 05.31.13 at 1:40 pm

This really isn’t a liberal vs conservative fight. This is an elitist versus the rest of us fight. Nothing more, nothing less.