Sioux Falls City Council TidBits

Let’s start with yesterday’s informational meeting (Above). I tried to watch the meeting online but was unable to when it was in process, so I showed up in person towards the end. The city informed me they were having issues with some old software so were not able to live stream. It seems all the patchwork the last IT department did is causing issues. Get out! SIRE has been conveniently broken for over a decade, and while that isn’t the new guy’s fault or the current administration, it needs to be fixed permanently and that is on them!

LODGING TAX DOWN 32% from last Year

They did have presentations I was able to watch later. During the November Finance Report I noticed that the lodging tax is down around 32% from last year. While this only affects the CVB’s BID budget, it should be concerning for the city (economic impact). Even if the tax collection was down just 1% we should be concerned. With all the growth in entertainment and lodging options in Sioux Falls, that big of a drop should really be investigated. I’m not sure if it has to do with the popularity of Air B & B, the economy or pricing, but something is way out of whack.


There was also a presentation on the 85th exchange. While I was happy to hear about a large private investment, and investments from Lincoln County and the State, I’m still waiting for the TIFilicious discussions to begin. You wait, it’s coming.


They finished with a presentation on the Verizon contract when it comes to 5G. After reading the contract, you can almost guess who wrote it (Verizon and the Feds).

During public input I mentioned the problems with SIRE over the past decade and Rick Kiley asked the chair to keep me back on track with agenda items. I told him it had to do with the agenda, since I couldn’t watch the presentations. Either way, as long as I am discussing city business I really don’t care what Kiley thinks is ‘appropriate’. Those five minutes are MY TIME not his, and if he doesn’t like what I’m saying he can leave the room. I think it is disgusting and pathetic that we are only afforded limited time anyway, but to have a city councilor interrupt me because he didn’t like what I was saying is disrespectful. Seems Rick wants to carry the torch of Rex and Mike when it comes to interrupting citizens during public input, and I’m not going to put up with it. He has been on the city council for over 6 years (as well as chair Erickson) and they are very well aware of the problems with SIRE and choose to have an ‘ignore the problem’ attitude. If you don’t like me pointing this out Rick, maybe you should get off your butt and do something about fixing it instead of trying to kill the messenger for pointing out your failed attempts.

I also commented that while I don’t have a problem with the provider of 5G in SF (Verizon) I was dismayed that there was no public discussion. I also reminded them that our Home Rule Charter gives a lot of power when it comes to regulating the public utilities. I said, “While we find it okay for our charter to dictate to private property owners how long our grass can be, we say nothing when the feds come in and tell us what to do.” I’m also curious why the State PUC hasn’t weighed in on the topic, and if they have, I would like to see some minutes of those meetings.


During the regular city council meeting (Above) they approved the FOP SFPD Union contract on a 6-2 vote but not after a Union member ripped the new administration and HR director a new one about saying one thing and taking the opposite action. Many on the council felt that they had to vote for it so that the SFPD would not be stuck with the old contract and no raises over the next two years, but the FOP’s lawyer, Mr. Wilka called out the HR Director Bill Da’Tool and his lies. He told the council they reached out 4 times to the city for new negotiations since September and they refused. Councilor Pat Starr who voted against the contract with Stehly also called out the HR Director by asking him who directed him to go with this contract, when he tried to downplay the Mayor’s involvement. You got the feeling by the end of the discussion there was a lot of people in the room who weren’t telling the truth.


Speaking of the FOP debacle, City Attorney Kooistra said that he was recused from the discussion on the Union contract because another city attorney handled it. While that is the right thing to do, the wrong thing to do is to sit in your chair, on the dais watching the whole thing play out instead of in the back room where the councilors go when they recuse themselves. Weird.


The fun continued when they cautiously approved the Class I E-Bikes for the bike trail. Pat Starr offered to amend the ordinance by allowing Class II E-bikes. The difference? Class I is only electrical assist while Class II have a throttle and need no assist. I found the discussion kind of humorous in a way. I knew a guy in SF ten years ago who built his own E-Bike, and you would have NO idea it was an E-Bike. He basically had a duct taped battery strapped to a normal bike. While he mostly rode it on the streets, there would be NO way of knowing if he rode it on the bike trail. I think this is just some ‘feel good’ ordinance that 99% of SF citizens let alone bike riders know anything about. Let’s see how many tickets are written for people riding Class II E-Bikes on the bike trail next year. I’ll take a guess, ZERO. But hey, let’s drink a couple of beers and throw some axes!


Village on the River got their approval for a liquor license even though it will not be used for 22 months. Councilor Pat Starr asked Lamont’s operations manager if that was going to possible to get the project done in 22 months. He said they plan to be open in 19 months (as long as no load bearing walls don’t collapse).


During the discussion of legislative priorities, 4 councilors had concerns about the presumptive probation that was added by council chair Erickson without a full council discussion ahead of time. Neitzert said it best to the nature that there were pros and cons on both sides and he wasn’t sure if drug addicts should be considered felons. Soehl, Kiley and Erickson were basically taking the word of Police Chief Burns. Soehl (who obviously did NO research said he would just take the word of the Police Chief. Oh my). The Mayor had to break the tie by supporting leaving it in, showing his true partisan Republican colors. You could tell Erickson was not happy the mayor had to break the tie (I even questioned if he should have been voting on THEIR priorities anyway). It really should have FAILED anyway and been stricken, because shortly after Kiley voted to keep it in, he recused himself from voting on Starr’s added amendments, and ultimately the entire resolution. So I guess he got to vote on ‘some of it’? It seemed odd, and is probably a violation of Roberts Rules and Procedure. He recused himself because Starr proposed a priority of supporting foreign languages on driver’s tests. But here’s the stickler, even though Kiley knew about the amendment before the meeting AND was in the red notes, he waited to recuse himself until the smoke cleared on presumptive probation. He should have recused himself at the beginning since he was aware the amendment was going to be presented. His vote on deleting presumptive probation should either be stricken, or the seven councilors should have a re-vote on it at the next meeting. We will see how the city clerk and city attorney handle this one. I’m guessing they will do the right thing . . .

Either way, at the end of the discussion, Erickson ripped everyone a new one because Pat was able to offer amendments. The difference is, Pat proposed his amendments in front of the full council for an up or down vote in public instead of ‘sneaking’ them in before the meeting. Stehly was quick to point this out to Erickson.


Not caught in the meeting was what was happening off camera. I guess last week a city media staffer was hopping all over the chambers taking photos while the rest of media was confined to their quarters. First off, with the kind of professional camera he was using with a zoom lens, he could have easily just sat in one spot and taken candid photos. Maybe instead of leadership training we need to send him to some photography classes.

His free-spirited performance last week prompted Deputy COS, TJ Nelsover to call a secret meeting with local media news directors to ask them if they would like more freedom moving around the chambers (Bruce and I were NOT invited. Shocker!). The Energizer Bunny continued again this week hopping all over taking photos again, even though there were no awards this week. A councilor asked what he was taking shots of and were told ‘Stock Photography’. While I don’t doubt that was the case (I kind of do), I find it unusual that media services staff has time to take ‘stock photography’ yet we have to pay a private consultant $250 for a 90 second video introduction.

Oh yeah, and, that contract was approved with no discussion.

Another exciting week at Carnegie. Glad I watched from home.


#1 Matthew Paulson on 12.19.18 at 9:27 pm

Why is Bruce’s YouTube video claiming a copyright over a recording of a public City Council meeting? Surely those are public domain.

#2 Taco Bar on 12.19.18 at 10:25 pm

Air B & Bs are probably contributing to the 32% decline, but what about the fact that with Mall traffic down, due to the closings of Sears and Younkers, and the growth of online sales in general, that there is just less reason to come to Sioux Falls to shop and stay?

#3 Warren Phear on 12.20.18 at 8:58 am

Presumptive probation? How far into the meeting was this discussion? Why is our council discussing this?

#4 D@ily Spin on 12.20.18 at 9:05 am

City SIRE is broke. What’s new? In a dictatorship it’s only important to look like you’re making a public record. A staffer taking select photos for propaganda is not a substitute. If you want a councilor to leave the room, wear a Jester Hat.

#5 D@ily Spin on 12.20.18 at 9:09 am

Speaking of electric transportation, maybe consult with Elon Musk. The man who has yet to mass produce electric cars, shot a convertible into space, and proposes single car asphyxiation tunnels deserves a TIF.

#6 Warren Phear on 12.20.18 at 9:18 am

It was also stated the average Sioux Falls workers income was $49,000 a year. Not true. Well, kinda true. kelby krabbenhoff made 3.9 million in 2016. Him and I together in 2016 averaged nearly 2 million in income. We are truly blessed. Anyway, the true numbers are much more revealing. The true average, or median, is $28,120 a year. That explains the number of kids on free and reduced school lunches.

The lodging numbers? Skewed somewhat by the fact lodging tax income and entertainment tax income were being used interchangeably at times. Corrected, lodging was still down every month of this year by about 9%. August was the only outlier which showed positive numbers. Why? Could not even venture a guess. Probably still part of the entertainment/lodging foul up.

#7 l3wis on 12.20.18 at 10:04 am

“Presumptive probation? How far into the meeting was this discussion? Why is our council discussing this?”

That’s kind of what the 4 councilors who voted against this thought. Erickson said that the city council should be very concerned about crime, ironically, she said this right after giving the Police Union the shaft.

#8 The Guy from Guernsey on 12.20.18 at 10:32 am

Your comment about Lodging Tax collections piqued my interest.

The decrease of 32% appears to consider an amount which is subject to audit and/or adjustment (and not yet remitted to the City by the State).

On each of the monthly Finance Reports since May 2018 there is an amount stated as subject to ‘State Audit Collections / Adjustments’. This category does not seem to appear on those reports prior to May 2018.

Since the Finance Reports are on an Accrual Basis (and if that money has been apparently “earned”, but not yet been remitted), it would seem appropriate to state that amount as such on the financial statements.

Suggest that either the Audit/Adjustment practices of the state were changed near this time frame. Or, there was a change in accounting practice with the City – the way in which this amount is treated on the monthly financials.

BTW, May 2018 would be the first month of the TenHaken administration. And didn’t Turbak announce in April 2018 his intent to depart from employment with the City?

#9 The Guy from Guernsey on 12.20.18 at 10:37 am

But your point that Lodging Tax collections are ‘down’ seems still valid. Total Unaudited/Unadjusted Collections, 2018 YTD thru Nov, were down 8.6% compared to same period in 2017.

#10 D@ily Spin on 12.20.18 at 11:22 am

Hotel occupancy and prices are up. It’s hard to get a room here. Neighboring cities built hotels and they’re full too. Something is wrong with the numbers. I suspect usual city deception so as to increase occupancy sin taxes. Regarding AirBNB, let’s put Erickson under oath and ask her for a study of the impact.