Let’s Run Mayor TenHaken’s Career Numbers

So Mayor Multi-Task was bragging about this story about Sioux Falls being a great place to start a career. Let’s assume you are single, let’s break down the numbers;

$35,942 Yearly Salary

Minus Taxes (30%)


Minus Rent ($811 per month, $9,732)


Minus Monthly Expenses

Groc – $200 (only food prepared and ate at home)

Health – $250 (premium)

Utilities – $200 (includes phone)

Car/Transporation – $600 (includes gas/ins/car payment)

-$1,250 per month

Left over per month $35.

Now I will admit that if you own your car, that could save you around $400 a month, but you also have to have maintenance and repairs, gas and insurance.

Basically you would have $35 per month left over for investments, savings, hospitality/entertainment, student loans, health insurance deductible and out of pocket expenses, etc. Sorry, but $35 dollars doesn’t even come close to covering these other expenses. This is why many young single people (and families) have multiple jobs, because they just can’t make it off of $35K a year and pay rent.

I have often felt that rent increases in Sioux Falls have far exceeded wage increases and the city council seriously needs to look at rent controls. But we also need to get wages up in this town. I wonder if Paul would like to live off of $35K a year? Maybe he is hinting we need to change the Mayor’s salary?


#1 Matthew Paulson on 06.30.20 at 7:46 pm

Nobody making $35K per year pays 30% in tax.

#2 matt johnson on 06.30.20 at 8:31 pm

You are supposing that single people live alone- 50 years ago- and I am sure today- people had/ have roommates and share the expense

#3 "Very Stable Genius" on 06.30.20 at 8:47 pm

Where are these decent and respectful apartments for $815 a month? It’s more like $950 to $1100.00, isn’t it?

A median income of $35,942 is probably true when you include the six and seven figure income employees of the two health care systems in this town into the average.

However, just remember, that with a figure of $35,942 as an average, that means one doctor making $900,000 a year can be factored in with 57 other employees in this town, who make $10 per hour, to achieve this average; and when you make $10 a hour, that means you spend 47% of your income on housing, while most bankers don’t want your mortgage costs to exceed 29% of your gross income per month. If you should be so lucky to eventually become a home owner after having been a renter in this town for sometime and attempting to save, that is.

#4 l3wis on 06.30.20 at 9:51 pm

MP, prove me wrong. I have been single my entire life and have paid this amount in taxes or higher my whole life. I am not just talking federal, I’m talking retail and property also. In fact the lower your salary, the higher your tax is in SD. So, please, provide me the data from non-partisan sources. I think once you start digging around you will find you are wrong, very wrong.

#5 l3wis on 06.30.20 at 9:55 pm

MJ, I have lived by myself for over 25 years. Why should people have to have roommates? The figure represents a single room apartment, trust me, I have looked at the rental numbers. Just go peruse $800 dollar apartments in this town. Good luck finding one that you could have a roommate in.

#6 Matthew Paulson on 06.30.20 at 10:31 pm

FICA Taxes – 7.65% on wages – $2,667.50
Federal Income Tax on $35K w/ standard deduction – $2500
Sales Tax – Assuming you spend all $30K you take home after federal taxes -$1,950
Property taxes – Not paid by renters in your scenario.

Worst case scenario that works out to about 20% tax rate, but that would assume no tax credits, exemptions or above the line deductions.

What am I missing here?

#7 Anonymoose on 06.30.20 at 11:07 pm

Welcome to 2020 where people are willing to publicly argue with a straight face that $35k/year is a good wage.

#8 The Guy From Guernsey on 07.01.20 at 7:33 am

I connect with your message. In fact I’ll see your “many employers in this state are cheapskates regarding wages” and raise you “they also operate crappy business cultures which are unattractive and unfriendly for employees”.
But I think you need to revisit the meaning of ‘median’ – same number of observations (e.g. wage earners) above that number as are located below that number. More an indication of central tendancy of a ranked distribution of data points, rather than an arithmatic average calculated from the sum of wages.
To add one additional $900K medical professional to the community would increase the median from $35,942 to the next highest wage/salary in the rank of wage-earners. Because of central tendancy of distribution of wage earner data, I would be surprised that adding that one $900K individual would increase median by more than a handful of dollars.

#9 matt johnson on 07.01.20 at 8:17 am

three thoughts 1-why should I have to live with somebody? because you cannot afford to live alone; so rent a two bedroom with a friend and save $250 to $300 per month from your example;2- hate to tell you but MP is right on the tax analysis; 3- maybe VSG should understand the difference between median (the middle number) and average

#10 fuzzy math right there on 07.01.20 at 8:18 am

keep in mind, median is the middle, that means half of the people make less than that…and that is scary. to mr paulsen’s comment regarding property tax… property taxes are paid by renters, just not directly. property taxes go up, rents go up. he’s also not including all the “fees” we pay for things that are essentially just taxes by another name. perhaps mr. paulsen needs to take an economics class. i’d say 30% is maybe a little bit high, but 20 is definitely too low.

#11 D@ily Spin on 07.01.20 at 9:43 am

Try to raise a child on 35k. Some single moms deliberately have several children so they can stay home on welfare. Dad runs out the back door when social services shows up. Why is it that free cheese and The Banquet are so popular?
DimeHaken is looking for anything to make his term sound good.

#12 Warren Phear on 07.01.20 at 9:43 am

VSG makes a very good point. The hospitals drive the median income high, which is good, but nearly all these jobs require a college education. The single highest group of employees in SF is registered nurse. Over 6300 of them. The next highest is retail sales at about 5900. Those numbers most closely reveal what the “real” median income in SF is. About $13 an hour.

Oh, I clicked on the paulson link. First thing that pops up is a request for my email address so he can help me become rich beyond my wildest dreams. Could have sworn I must have accidentally found a free introductory offer to Trump University.


#13 Erica on 07.01.20 at 10:06 am

“The lower your salary the higher your tax is”?

You must be doing your taxes really wrong. That isn’t how it works.

And no, at 35k you are not putting in 30% of that to taxes. I

#14 matt johnson on 07.01.20 at 11:34 am

Maybe fuzzy math should take a math class- he says that renters pay property tax, but it is not in addition to the rent but paid for by the landlord out of the rent; and as to those other “fees”- I don’t remember getting a bill for those, they are part of the payment for the other things listed; those items do not get paid twice – thus 1 + 0= 1

#15 LjayL on 07.01.20 at 12:15 pm

Your personal finances must be fucked up!

#16 D@ily Spin on 07.01.20 at 12:44 pm

Something most have not thought about: Working from home because of COVID allows you to deduct some of your home expenses. If you’re using one room as an office, it’s about 20% for rent and utilities. You can deduct mileage for office supply and some other trips. There’s more depending upon your circumstance. For example, you can deduct entertainment expenses if you take out an associate or your tax advisor for dinner.
You can reduce your federal tax burden considerably by itemizing and (possibly) buy instead of rent.

#17 Conservative Here on 07.01.20 at 12:48 pm

This is a great topic and one I think has merits on both sides of the Isle. I think the biggest issue we have in South Dakota as far as cost of living is the Property taxes are entirely too high. That is directly impacting homeowners and renters. The 2nd issue I see is home values have gone up SO fast in the last 3-5 years its crazy. I am just shocked at what homes are going for and yes I believe in a free market but, wow. I am not sure there is really a solve for this but, it is contributing.

A person making 35k a year, getting paid by weekly, and claiming 0 on W4 is paying out of the check around 6k per year (this include SS and Medicare). This same person has an tax rate of 12% which means around 3500-4000 in taxes owed. If this person has ANY kids or deductions they are getting upwards of 5k easily. I help a couple young single ladies do their taxes and both make around 30k and every year they are getting 7k+ back not to mention both are getting their Health care almost free with the Obamacare subsidy. So 2 ladies and many like them are effectively pay zero coming out a head in taxes. So someone who pays No taxes all year long except sales tax and cannot live on 30-35k makes me scratch my head. I mean your not paying any taxes at all. 44% of all Americans pay effectively no income tax. That means almost half our country is paying for all these subsidies.

Now wages – I agree that there are enough businesses out there that should up their game and pay more. Some are very greedy, some just can’t afford to pay more. I think my issue is when we start thinking we should expect certain jobs to pay more just makes no sense. Jobs like Mcdonalds, Taco Johns. working at Caseys gas station. Companies like Amazon who pay there workers junk make BILLIONS AND BILLIONS a year in profit should really pay better but, they cannot because they have no soul and are greedy.

#18 "Very Stable Genius" on 07.01.20 at 1:00 pm

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The confusion between median and average is not mine. It is found in the mayor’s comments, where he goes from average to median to suggest that they comment each other.

By trying to indict me, you have actually indicted the mayor’s comments. Thank you so very much. 🙂

#19 "Very Stable Genius" on 07.01.20 at 1:03 pm

“complement” not “comment”. 🙁

#20 still fuzzy on 07.01.20 at 3:14 pm

mj, not sure i need a math class, but maybe. here are 2 fees for you… do you pay license fees for your car? do you pay parking meters to park it? maybe lewis was including that in transportation, i don’t know and don’t care. second, fact is property tax is paid by renters and it’s included in the rent. not itemized, but you can bet your ass it’s there.
obviously anything you buy has tax attached, the point is not about the amount or who collects it, but rather the percentage of income. 35k median income is not anything to brag about.

#21 Jon on 07.01.20 at 3:15 pm

Property taxes in this area are getting absolutely ridiculous. Go look at Zillow.com where they show the tax history on any property you type in. You will see HUGE increases in the past five years with no slowing down in sight. This will become a huge problem for middle class people trying to make it in Sioux Falls. And God help you if you are in the Tea school district AND part of Lincoln county.

#22 Fear & Loathing in Sioux Falls on 07.01.20 at 4:04 pm

We need a new poker video. Oh, excuse me, a new form of video lottery, that is, plus a second coming of Janklow to solve our property tax woes.

#23 "Woodstock" on 07.01.20 at 4:10 pm

“A new form of video lottery and a second coming of Wild Bill?”….. “Wow!”…. “Will this also mean an other state Supreme Court decision, too, and its scandalous complications?”…

#24 Lemming on 07.01.20 at 4:21 pm

Property taxes are truly spinning out of control and with all the city and county services shut down, closed or greatly reduced in efficiency over the last several months, will I be seeing property tax rebates or a freeze this year? I think not.

#25 WageWatcher on 07.02.20 at 8:58 am

There is changin happening in Sewer Falls. The high wages and perks are leaving town. The hospitals are cutting wages 10% and more, employees are not being called back to work and likely never will and the big blue operation is adding a “service fee” of $100 or more onto invoices if your insurance doesn’t cover enough of the bill.

Remember the flushing sound of our boom town economy going down the new sewer plant as the rest of the town follows suit.

#26 D@ily Spin on 07.02.20 at 12:56 pm

Property taxes are high because there’s no state income tax. I’ve been looking on Zillow at midrange real estate values in Omaha and MSP. It’s higher to about the same in slums. What’s needed locally is more income. Generally, our quality of life is ok here. However, I don’t think it’s so good that the mayor can boast about it.

#27 D@ily Spin on 07.02.20 at 1:04 pm

This area has less COVID exposure and better treatment. We have a low crime rate despite unemployment. Our clean air allows us to venture out and about. We can reopen and keep open business sooner than problem states mostly south. Where we live is a good environment. Yes, there should be higher wages. However, let’s focus on COVID recovery. In this economy one should appreciate having employment yet still getting the $1200 from the feds.

#28 "Very Stable Genius" on 07.02.20 at 6:32 pm

“What’s needed locally is more income.”

Hell yes!…. “It’s wages, stupid” should be the theme of any Democratic candidate in this state. It’s not about trying to be a kinder but gentler Republican, rather it’s time to literally take it to the bank against the establishment about wages in this state.

( and Woodstock adds: “Say what do you guys think of Dusty’s Mt. Rushmore Protection Plan?”…. “Do you think it’s better than Kristi’s Four Pillars of Protection?”… “Personally, I prefer RomneyCare myself”….