Is it time for the City of Sioux Falls to cut some fat?

I have noticed something over the last few weeks. Seems the city is running just fine with all the city’s pencil pushers (working?) from home. Why is that? We all know why.

Don’t get me wrong, I have seen the police, fire, landfill, council staff, water, streets, parks and public works employees still hard at it. There was even a pothole crew on my street last week. They have to work to help maintain the city’s infrastructure. Thank You!

But what about all the pencil pushers and mostly the mid management? Not a peep. Yet somehow magically our city is still running just fine.

Even at the city council meeting (I think it was Stehly) asked how we could get the furloughed city employees doing something during this crisis. You could have heard a pin drop.

I have argued for years that the city has too many of ‘these’ people. But it’s hard to layoff civil service employees and mid management. But there is a tool they can use to do it effectively and legally; the budget. If the money doesn’t exist to pay salaries, employees have to be cut. It happens all the time in the private sector.

If the city is facing uncertain tax collection they do have the authority to lay off city employees. If the 1st penny (where salaries come from) is significantly less, the council has the power to cut the operations budget which would force the mayor to cut employees.

The first place I would start is mid management. I think our city has way to many of these folks. We pay our directors 6 figures a year, why can’t they be management? Why do they need all of these in between people? I would also start with non resident employees. I have stated for years, if you don’t contribute to Sioux Falls tax base, why should the residents of this city pay your salary, especially if you are management? We have several directors that don’t live in our city or even in our state. It’s ludicrous.

I think once we cut a majority of unneeded management, we may not have to cut the lower end pencil pushers in the city, but I still think many of them need to go to.

I had a guy a couple of years ago who worked in one of these positions for the city, but told me he quit after a few months. He told me that management told him he was too efficient and over achieving too much and basically making his manager look bad.

While I don’t want to see anyone lose their job, the city may be in some dire straits in the next couple of years, and we may have no choice but to cut jobs and we can do it pretty painlessly. But like I said, I would start at the top and work down. The irony is while saving us millions, we may never even see the difference in service. I have argued for a long time that government should only use our taxes for ‘needs’ and not ‘wants’. They may have no choice but to do that.


#1 rufusx on 04.19.20 at 8:22 am

More generic antigovernmental Tea Party rhetoric? Come on man.

#2 l3wis on 04.19.20 at 9:51 am

Ruf, as a person who has covered this city for over 13 years, you would be astonished of the incredible salary waste this city participates in. And it is mostly in mid management. I know a lot of the little guys and gals that work for the city, they are not getting rich. They tell me about the extreme laziness of these overpaid do nothings. Whether I blog about it or not, I don’t the city will have much choice but to cut the operations 1st penny budget and ultimately lay off people. Raises are certainly out of the question.

#3 l3wis on 04.19.20 at 9:53 am

I had one guy tell me about his supervisor, “He works 60 hours a week to get out of working his 40.”

#4 SF 2020 Budget Hearings on 04.19.20 at 9:56 am

They will be compelling.

#5 D@ily Spin on 04.19.20 at 10:10 am

Nothing happens on time at city hall. It’ll be a year of weak budget income. We, the people must suffer during this time with pot holes and lack of snow removal. It’ll take another year of city bonds reoriented toward employees. By the third year, there will finally be layoffs but only 10%. By year 5 the city will take bankruptcy. Employees will walk off the job without having been terminated. It’s a one term mayor who cuts city personnel. What’s worse, is there must be more police and fire staff but there’s a hiring freeze. A city in trouble will have more crime and lots of insurance fires.

#6 D@ily Spin on 04.19.20 at 10:17 am

We must re-elect Huether. We need the false hope and dreams of the worst kind of narcissist. I need cartoon humor of Huether in a skirt and tennis shoes jumping over a net playing indoor tennis then going to the bath house before speaking in absolute social distancing echoing to himself inside the Denty. It will be a smile during citizens dreams homeless in the trenches.

#7 SouthernExposure on 04.19.20 at 11:57 am

Austerity cometh, big time ! 100% certainty. And why should government be exempt ? KETO for all.

#8 The Guy From Guernsey on 04.19.20 at 1:33 pm

Sales tax revenue is going to plummet quickly. Government operations which rely upon sales tax revenue are going to require measures of austerity.
This fiscally liberal spendthrift Mayor and most of the present roster of City Councilors have written a government spending record entirely the opposite of that which is going to be needed in the next 2-3 years.
Lots of fun to spend, spend, spend.
Going to be less fun to make difficult decisions / take decisive action to keep the City’s finances solvent.
PTH didn’t sign up to be an Austerity Mayor, but that is what he will need to be for the remainder of his term as Mayor.

#9 Conservative Here on 04.20.20 at 12:36 pm

Interesting Read and I agree in cuts. Out local govt and govt in general has gotten too big and wasteful. What I do find ironic is you want to trim off some of these workers yet, many of the ideas on this side of the isle such as Govt taking over Waste Management requires, you guessed it, MORE GOVT workers. Almost all solutions in which you want a centralized control requires more Govt workers. I have said this before and I will say it again, Govt is inefficient at everything it does. The only thing its good at is waste, fraud, and abuse.

Its next to impossible to fire underperforming employees, most dont give a rats @ss, and many could care less how many “customers they serve” it doesnt change their paycheck. All one has to do to witness this is go down to the Minnehaha County Court house and stand in line for Tags, Register your vehicle. etc. Post office is another FINE example of what it looks like on the Federal level or the F@cking VA, what a sham

In 2006 I was in Buffalo NY for work and our team decided to go to Canada for the day to see Niagra Falls from the other side. On our way back into the US, we were required to go through a “mini interrogation” due to the fact the 4 people in the car had drivers licenses from California, Nevada, and South Dakota. The guy must have felt we were a suspicious group. We arrived at the Immigration headquarters and not kidding, the room had about 25 people trying to get into the US and around 20+ Immigration Agents. 18+ of them were sitting around eating pizza, having fun, and screwing off, while everyone just sat there waiting. I made the mistake of asking them politely if they could get off their asses and at least let the only 4 Americans in the room back into the country. Needless to say, we got to go last, my big mouth probably. This is a funny story now but, it just shows that matter where you go, level of government, its all the same. Very Very few give a sh!t. Military is the same, did that for 3+ years so much waste.

So tell me again why we want more of this shit. Scott has nailed it above, way to many over paid, unnecessary employees.

#10 "Very Stable Genius" on 04.20.20 at 5:06 pm


I love your “suspicious group” story. I had a friend, who was going to MIT at the time (1983), write a check at a Boston gas station – back in the day when you could do that – and then he showed his South Dakota Driver’s License for ID, then the gas attendant said: “What is this?”

( and Woodstock adds: “Yah, so these three guys from California, Nevada, and South Dakota walk into a bar…..”)

#11 LJL on 04.21.20 at 9:25 am

Interesting idea from you considering this whole blog came out of you not getting a job as one of those fat city workers.

The plot thickens.

#12 Park & Rec Now Trimming Your Boulevard Trees on 04.21.20 at 6:54 pm

A very large Park & Rec bucket truck was roaming through my neighborhood this morning.

Those boulevard trees they previously refused to trim at no charge, they are now trimming.

The neighbor across the street had ONE 3 ft branch trimmed and then they were on their way to the next minor trim job…..of course, this all took several employees.

Why are city employees exempt from being furloughed!?

#13 Mike Lee Zitterich on 04.24.20 at 1:35 am

I have to agree with Scott this time around. If we are really going to lose 10, 15, 20% in sales tax dollars, then we need to start making some drastic cuts.

I been saying for years, we do NOT need to keep hiring new employees, police, etc. We need to trim the fat from the City Budget. And I have to agree – when you cut the budget by 20%, you can scale back responsibilities, you can shuffle responsibilities into other places, meaning you can trim the Staff down to proper size.

How many of you have ever taken the time to read the CITY C.A.F.R that comes out each year, Do you see the “FUTURE EMPLOYEE OBLIGATIONS” we are stuck with based on the contracts we have agreed to, they are massive.

We do have to many mid-management employees. We got the DIRECTORS whom should change every 4 to 8 years with new mayors; their salaries should NOT go up cause they should NOT be considered Full Time or even Employees, they are appointed by the Mayor and Council to act as the Administration to help over see and watch over the City itself. If we could reform or amend the CHARTER to make “DIRECTORS” term limited as well, we could trim the fat, and keep their salaries @ $100,000 or less so they will want to quit every 4 years.

Then you got Department Managers, Office Managers, Payroll Managers, Resource Managers, Supervisers, you got a manager for everything, Scott is right, we could narrow this down to 1 maybe 2 depending on the Department.

So I agree, cut the budget on payroll, and the jobs cease to exist.