The City of Sioux Falls should move towards leasing office space

At Tuesday’s informational meeting there was a presentation on maintenance of the city buildings. While I understand there are some buildings we HAVE to own like fire stations I think we need to learn a lesson from COVID and when we were debating the City Center building (which is still entangled in a lawsuit over the failed HVAC system) the Finance Director at the time suggested that leasing is way more affordable than building and maintaining. And with COVID we have learned that many, if not all of the pencil pushers with the city can easily work from home.

Saving money by leasing office space makes sense on many levels. You have NO maintenance costs, no bonding costs and if you need more or less space you simply pack up the office and move.

Working from home could also save the city bundles of money in office space. Obviously many city workers can’t work from home, but I think most of the office staff could.

I also think the Mayor (he is the city manager per charter) should look into selling off city property we don’t need anymore after moving many people to work from home or to leased properties and we should use the revenue to pay down bonds on current properties like The Denty, the Bunker Ramp, the City Administration building and water treatment expansion.

I have often been baffled by not only this mayor but past mayors who want to expand FTE’s for the city (23 this year) because with advances in technology, etc, we should be finding ways to reduce the city workforce by making working conditions for city employees more efficient. I have also suggested that the city terminates most of their middle management. There really should only be team supervisors and directors. I have found following city politics over the past 15 years that middle management really does very little except talk a lot.

I believe if the city would take a 3 tier approach to our building infrastructure and workforce they could save the taxpayers millions of dollars a year. This of course would require the Mayor, any mayor, to follow the charter and do their job, which is managing the city, it’s properties and employees instead of getting in the weeds with legislative priorities which is the council’s job.

I have often taunted councilors to start violating their charter duties and start talking directly to city employees about complaints. Of course they are NOT allowed to do this by charter, so why does the mayor think it is OK to screw with the council?

I think this city could run way more efficiently if we had a mayor that actually concentrated on managing the city instead sitting in his garage coming up with cute program names. Just listen to his budget address, I couldn’t even keep track of all the acronyms he presented about employee improvement and mentoring. The only thing city employees should be trained on is CUSTOMER SERVICE to the citizens. That should always be their top priority. Holding hands and singing campfire songs doesn’t really matter when our streets are full of potholes and violent crime is on the rise. I am all for training city employees and keeping them up with the latest standards and procedures, but we need a city manager that understands that public employees serve those who pay their wages not the mayor. I have noticed since the Munson days that administrations have used city staff (mostly management) to serve their whims instead of the people.

Something needs to change with it comes to managing our city, because the current administration isn’t cutting the mustard.



8 comments ↓

#1 "Woodstock" on 07.24.21 at 10:58 am

“What about the ‘Leadership Teams’?”…. “Whatever happen to the ‘Leadership Teams’ he promised during his campaign?”…. (….”Come to think of it, maybe Lamont, Beck, and the Village project was his first attempt at a ‘Leadership Team'”….)

#2 D@ily Spin on 07.24.21 at 11:35 am

Why should the city lease when the one principle private contractor can build inferior construction for twice the price? City political types wouldn’t become millionaires from builder/contractor kickbacks. Leasing would mean honesty. That can’t happen here.

#3 The Guy From Guernsey on 07.25.21 at 10:48 am

Certainly prudent.
But not gonna’ happen.
There aren’t cornerstones placed to leased office properties onto which is engraved the names of the Mayor and City Council members.

#4 Triple Net on 07.25.21 at 12:03 pm

Leasing is a pretty horrible idea for government. The cost would be higher. You would also have to pay property tax on the building because a private entity would own it. Moving government buildings every decade would be a real possibility also which would be a horrible idea for citizens and expensive. When you move all the furniture, would need to be refit and you would need to cover new build out costs. You should probably re think that opinion.

#5 l3wis on 07.25.21 at 12:09 pm

TN, shoot me some numbers. Before the Administration building was built, the Finance Director at the time said that leasing is way more affordable then maintaining our own office space. I think the city was renting space for about 100K a year before they built the building now we pay millions in bond payments and maintenance. Leasing is way more affordable then owning.

https://www.thebalancesmb.com/the-pros-and-cons-of-leasing-vs-buying-office-space-2951249

#6 Triple Net on 07.25.21 at 9:12 pm

Your link is saying the same thing I am, but it leaves a lot of considerations out. A new or small business (especially one that may grow) benefits from leasing potentially. Government is different. Government is not going anywhere. Government will be in business for hundreds of years, hence ownership is better and you have an asset after it is paid off in 10 years. You also have record low interest rates.

When will you figure out that directors say what the mayor at the time tells them to say. They need to protect their job

#7 l3wis on 07.25.21 at 9:28 pm

You do realize that Mr. Turbak got in trouble for telling the council this very thing. In fact, they tried to bury it. A city that is growing all the time should invest in a handful of things, parks, roads, police and fire. Office staff is not something the city should have to build institutions on. I have even joked that the mayor should work from home. I don’t know your age, or care, but I am 49, and even I understand ‘running’ things can be done anywhere in a modern society. While I may curse many modern advances, there is no reason people who give their brains and knowledge to a certain subject need to be locked up in a taxpayer cubicle institution hell.

#8 Triple Net on 07.26.21 at 7:18 pm

You say people can all work from home (how many employees do you have?) as CEOs across the country are telling their employees it’s time to get back to the office. Not saying it is not an option for some, but it lacks in a lot of ways. There is a lot missed when employees are not working together in an actual office.