UPDATE: How can NON-Elected City Employees Recommend Approval of a $94 million dollar TIF?

I’ve complained in the past about the ludicrous nature of city employees in the planning department recommending approval of projects. But a $94 million dollar TIF? Get Out!

Just look at the Planning Meeting agenda for Wednesday;

Notice that on the actual agenda page there is NO recommendation from staff, but if you look at the attached documents you get this, approval;

Situational factors are also evaluated in any TIF request with flexibility and discretion, and may include any factor important to elected and appointed officials. 
Staff recommends approval. 

I’m not sure who wrote the sentence above, but in my circles we call that poppycock, horse pucky or in Europe, Bullocks!

While I understand they have to evaluate re-zones and permits, what gives them any authority to simply recommend approval of a $94 million dollar tax rebate?

I have encouraged the city council in the past to either change the charter/ordinance or write a new one that doesn’t allow NON-ELECTED city employees in the Planning Department recommending approval. They should give the PROS and CONS of every agenda item and let the Commission and Council decide.

Oh, and another City Hall mole tells me that the City Attorney even dipped his toes in the water sending city councilors a recommendation of approval. The City Attorney! If this is true, WOW! Not sure what a JAG officer with little knowledge of 1st Amendment rights can contribute to a TIF argument . . . oh that’s right, he has the Mayor’s boot polish on his tongue, my bad, I forgot. He did learn one thing in the military, a good spit shine.

What makes it even more egregious in this case is that they have NO basis that this is a good plan, in fact all they do is quote state law;

Tax Increment Financing is an economic development financing tool established by Chapter 11-9 of South Dakota Codified Law. TIF’s allow property tax dollars from a specific geographic area to be applied towards eligible public and private capital improvements and to stimulate and develop the general economic welfare and prosperity of the state by utilizing the anticipated increase in property tax— known as positive increment— generated from a project to reimburse for improvements determined as eligible by the municipal governing body. Improvements are typically financed and paid off in future years through the tax increment proceeds. 

They also make this assumption without backing it up with data;

Project Details The property included in the district boundaries are part of Foundation Park, which is a development park owned by the Sioux Falls Development Foundation. In an effort to promote development of the property, the Sioux Falls Development Foundation has requested Tax Increment Financing to offset the costs associated with preparing the property for development and to stimulate and develop the general economic welfare and prosperity of the state. The request is substantiated by economic development that will be generated through growth in taxes by a development site of this scale.

As I have mentioned in the past they have never done a comprehensive study about TIFs to prove that they ‘stimulate and develop the general economic welfare and prosperity of the state’ and they never will because it will only prove what TIFs really are; corporate welfare and little else.

UPDATE: The simple video below from our friends up North explains quite simply how TIFs raise taxes on the rest of us while the receiver of the TIF gets a nice little treasure chest (It gets juicy at about 5:10) H/T MLZ.

Notice the mention of a ‘TIF Account’ this of course will be held in a private bank. I’m not sure which bank would be used, but it is highly likely that the city and development foundation will use the one the city uses for it’s accounts now, you can guess which one that is.

Also notice the mention of ‘Bonds’. The city and state almost exclusively use one bonding company. You see where this money trail is going . . .

She also does a fine job of explaining how the original intent of TIFs was to clean up slums but now has been changed. She doesn’t flat out call it a scam, but the half-way sarcastic grin and partial eye-roll gives it away.

The best part is when she essentially explains how the rest of us will have to make up for this $94 million dollar TIF by increasing our taxes on over a billion dollars in valuation. OUCH!

She also talks about the ‘buddy system’ that is alive and well in Sioux Falls between the developers, the planning department, the mayor’s office and the city council which why I have argued for years is ripe with corruption. Remember the city holding onto land for a certain developer, tax free for over a decade at Phillips to the Falls then giving a TIF to boot for luxury apartments?

The video shockingly ends with my argument about using mini-TIFs for everyone in the city.

Oh, and I love the ending where she pretty much blows a hole in ‘urban renewal’ stating what it really is, higher taxes for the rest of us.

I know a lot of people think I blow a lot of smoke about TIF’s but this video is from a leading policy agency in a neighboring state.



1 comment so far ↓

#1 Bruce on 02.01.21 at 8:00 am

“Slush fund for political purposes” This is why we must rewrite the city charter of Sioux Falls. WE citizens no longer have the ability to control the actions of the unelecteds to sway the electeds with political promises.