UPDATE: Sioux Falls School Board’s Property Tax increase sneaky move

UPDATE: President Tholke asked for a two week deferral of the opt out and the motion failed. So they all voted for the OPT-OUT anyway.

UPDATE II: While watching the School Board meeting, and they are arguing about being transparent about the OPT-OUT discussion, in fact so transparent guess when they posted the OPT-OUT discussion video from April 10, 2017? April 11? April 12? Nope, they posted it TODAY! That’s transparency folks!

UPDATE III: A group is planning to circulate a referendum on the opt-out that passed tonight.

Only one week after a completely dismal school board election turnout, where they bragged about saving $16,000, and now they want to rob you out of $5 million.


They couldn’t wait until the new board member got sworn in, they had to slip it in now.

Sioux Falls homeowners could miss out on state property tax relief as school board members look to pad the district’s dwindling reserve funds.

Board members will vote Monday night on a recommendation to opt out of local property tax limits. The move would bring an extra $5 million into school coffers over the next 10 years.

And technically your taxes won’t INCREASE, they just basically wiped away the tax relief you WOULD have gotten from the state legislature;

Homeowners wouldn’t see taxes go up in 2018, but they would miss out on state property tax relief, a direct result of the new education funding formula passed last year.

The worst part about this besides their very sneaky method* of putting this on the agenda (surprised anyone from the media even caught it) is this isn’t even for a capital project, it is for a savings account because gosh darn it, they just can’t trust Trump or Pierre. Tax increases to pad savings accounts are NOT the way to go. I have often said government should spend what it has and keep an even keel. That is why I have often supported tapping into the education investment fund dividends and interest to actually FUND education instead of these constant tax increases.


As for the sneaky way they put this on the agenda. I had to read it three times before catching the clever language, Item #10 under Reports of the Superintendent, A. Finance Action Network Opt-Out Recommendation. Doesn’t sound like a property tax increase unless you read the attached documents.

And look at the esteemed members that want to increase your taxes;

The Finance Action Network (FAN) met on Thursday, May 25th. The meeting started at 11:30am. Those in attendance were:

-Sara Andrews (Beck & Hofer)

-Jason Ball (SF Area Chamber)

-Keith Severson (Eide Bailly)

-Bob Thimjon (Ramkota Companies)

-Becky Wittrock (Geo Tek)

-Doug Morrison (Citibank/SF School Board)

-Todd Vik (Sioux Falls School District)

-Brian Maher (Sioux Falls School District)

Once again, the Chamber looking out for the little guy . . . NOT!

And what is the irony in all this? The final statement on the report;

The additional $5 million Opt Out is recommended for 10 years. The district would only access the portion of increase as needed.

In other words if it is approved IT will be accessed, make no mistake.


#1 Big Al on 06.12.17 at 7:05 pm

Get Stehly on the school board and straighten them out too!

#2 LJL on 06.12.17 at 9:29 pm

A seriously sickening move to steal property tax relief. They know no shame.

#3 Theresa stehly on 06.12.17 at 11:45 pm

Well LJL, I am grateful that we finally have an issue we can agree on!!!
I was very concerned that the public did NOT have an opportunity to weigh in on this. We all found out about the vote today thanks to Megan Raposa from the Argus Leader.

I want to express my gratitude to School Board president,Todd Thoelke for making an attempt to defer this for two weeks. This would have given the citizens a chance to “digest” this grab at the property tax relief. Unfortunately, in the end , all the School Board members voted to pass the Opt Out.

I was approached by some concerned citizens who want to explore the possibility of a referendum. Why should Sioux Falls citizens have to work so hard to have a voice in these taxation issues. ( Even the State of South Dakota let us vote on the sales tax increase).

Stay tuned to the media to see if anything materializes for the petition drive.
PS. I was just contacted by a citizen who wants to put the school start date on the petition as well.

#4 LJL on 06.13.17 at 11:00 am

We have many issues that we agree on. It’s usually the delivery of the message that sets us apart.

I have known Todd for over a decade. His asking for delay ways parliamentary as the outcome of that motion was predetermined. In the end he shown his intentions with his vote.

I applaud your spearheading a petition and I intent on signing it. I’m quite sure you can figure out the correct forms for the process.

#5 Anne on 06.13.17 at 1:05 pm

As you said, voter turn out was poor. Elections have consequences. Obviously the residents of Sioux Falls don’t care what their property taxes are.

#6 l3wis on 06.13.17 at 1:55 pm

LJL, just to clarify, Stehly won’t be circulating a petition or heading up that drive. And as far as I am concerned, neither I or Bruce will be either. I can’t say I wouldn’t be willing to carry a sheet around, but no direct involvement.

Anne, I think it is about 50% don’t care and 50% just don’t know. I would agree with one thing Tholke said last night, the school board doesn’t have the power to get people to attain information. Could the school district do a better job? Certainly. Navigating their website is trainwreck. It’s like they just keep piling more and more on without cleaning up the old data, it really isn’t user friendly.

As for elections, I DO NOT agree with Mr. Morrison’s take on how his staff did everything possible to do it right. Funny, because if we had a State’s Attorney, AG or SOS that gave a damn, we could actually file many violations to election law.