Huether decided to remind us of his top 10 wins of his past 8 years. Where does he come up with this stuff. #1 really made me laugh.
#1. The City purchased the downtown railyard from BNSF Railway Company after a decade of planning and negotiation. Our downtown will never be the same, and economic development will be spurred on for generations to come!
As I have told the mayor and council a couple of times, this was one of most poorly negotiated deals in the history of our city. Besides taking millions from Federal taxpayers, city taxpayers will also have kick in on the cleanup. And the payback? Well the developers of the land will be making oodles of money, us minions, not so much. First off, this should have been negotiated in the public. Secondly we didn’t achieve the original goal of the project, to reduce train traffic downtown, in fact it has gotten worse and they are still switching cars only a couple of blocks away from the site.
#2. Sioux Falls has experienced five straight years of record-breaking construction, a bevy of jobs have been created, and we have a confidence level unmatched in America. Our economy is rocking!
While this is true, a large portion of this development has been by non-profits and public projects that produce ZERO property tax revenue. And something I could never figure out is if we have these record construction numbers why do we continue to handout TIFs and millions in new infrastructure upgrades? The development community is NOT hurting. Enough of the corporate welfare. We need to invest in our people.
#3. Quality of life has never been better thanks to our citizens’ incredible support of our new Events Center, indoor aquatic facility, beautiful parks, and so much more. No wonder 88 percent of Sioux Falls residents think we have good or great quality of life in our town.
The Events Center while needed was poorly funded and built in the wrong place unlike the aquatic center that was built on land controlled by the VA and cannot be expanded. The DentyÂ will be bleeding our CIP for decades. Oh then there was the siding. Also, I must clarify that about 88% of 900 people who filled out a survey said this.
#4. Public and private collaboration and investment has made our downtown the envy of most. Mayor Mike’s goal of making downtown the chosen â€œplace to liveâ€ is now a reality. No one now remembers what downtown Sioux Falls was like during the struggles of the recessionary years.
Downtown redevelopment started in the early 90’s. Because of the actions of Carole Pogones and Mayor Munson the ball was already rolling when Huether came into office. All he did was grab the baton.
#5. No matter what Mother Nature has challenged us withâ€”including the unforgettable ice storm, 1,000-year rain events, and record snowfallsâ€”our city has rallied together to conquer it. Sioux Falls is prepared for the next one, and yes, there will be â€œa next oneâ€ sooner than we think.
While the city’s response was great, I don’t think our city employees doing their jobs is a reason to put something on a ‘WIN’ list. Remember, these were natural disasters and they responded the way we expected them to. It also didn’t hurt that FEMA kicked in $10 million.
#6. Our city’s finances are rock solid thanks to centralizing services, tough prioritization, managing costs and FTEs, doing more with less, and running government like a business. Our piggybank is full, and debt per capita is actually lower now than what we had in 2010, even with a bevy of prudent and overdue investments.
This was mostly due to the over 50 increases in taxes and fees over the past 8 years.
#7. Our city’s infrastructure has regained its strength through an aggressive repair, rebuild, and replace strategy of roads, parks, buildings, and technology. It is a recipe all of South Dakota and American should heed.
As Jodi Schwan pointed out recently, the needle on road repair hasn’t moved at all. Our roads rated 7 out of 10 eight years ago and they rate 7 out of 10 today. At least we didn’t go backwards, so this is ‘sorta’ a win.
#8. Thanks to the trust and collaboration of our City’s employees, pension reform actually happened, saving taxpayers $300 million over the next 25 to 30 years. A monster accomplishment that most have no idea about.
Ask our city’s union employees how they feel about this? Or the police department who lost 30 experienced officers to early retirement.
#9. We celebrate good neighbors and neighborhoods and work with the others to instill those same values. Safety is a virtue and code enforcement is a commitment in Sioux Falls that helps us reach statistics where 91 percent of citizens think Sioux Falls is a good or great place to live.
Code enforcement is a mess and needs to be reformed. Once again 91% of 900 people surveyed think this.
#10. Sioux Falls has become the first choice for flying again with our grand airport upgrades, added flying options, and improved airfares. Leisure and business travelers are flying high thanks to Dan Letellier and the Sioux Falls Airport Authority!
With an airline that has the worst safety record in the industry and airlines that pay the lowest wages in the country.
There you have it, so many wins and not a lot of losses. Ha. I have coined Huether’s administration, “Progress at a Price.”