I was a little surprised that a former state legislator and current city councilor could be so confused about how the city can apply TIFs. During his interview on KELO AM (Sept 21) Jensen says the city should use TIFs for affordable and accessible housing. Imagine my surprise, especially since Jensen gleefully voted for 3 TIFs totaling $144 million that have ZERO to do with affordable housing. But what he said about what needs to change really surprised me even more. Jensen said the state has to change laws in order to do that. Huh?
While the State could certainly do that, it is not necessary. As I have proposed, with Home Rule we can make our charter stricter than State Law, we just cannot violate the law;
Application for TIF will only be accepted for projects that will eliminate blight, build density in the core, and simultaneously provide affordable and workforce housing. Home rule charter allows the city to be stricter than state law.
There are three ways we could go about this change. The easiest would be the council just proposing the change and voting on it. That would be as simple as a presentation about the change and a 1st and 2nd reading. The next easiest would be my proposal above and have the CRC put the change on the ballot and let the voters make that change. There is also a 3rd option which would be the hardest and that would be to do a petition drive to get it on the ballot.
This is why Jensen’s statement baffles me. The Council and himself already have the power to make this change, we don’t have to wait for the legislature to do something. And if he really believed that TIFs should only be applied this way why did he vote for three that have to do with parking ramps, slush funds and Korean owned egg roll factories?
Talking out of both sides of your butt must be a vampire thing.
UPDATE: Jensen also touches on this during inside Town Hall. Alex offers some strange solutions to our housing shortages;
â€¢ Encourage people to live in our neighboring small communities. So basically he is telling people to come to SE South Dakota to work in Sioux Falls, but BTW, we don’t have any room for you in our town. So once you punch out, and go home please take those wages you made in Sioux Falls and pay your taxes in Tea or Brandon or Crooks.
I have suggested for over a decade you could do a pilot program in a core neighborhood in a 4-6 block radius. The city would fix the roads, water, sewer, curb, gutter, city owned sidewalks and lighting. You then could get the residents and property owners in that sector to sign onto a group tax incentive program thru community development to fix up the properties. Depending on income levels the help could be tax rebates or NO or LOW interest loans. As we have seen, the Mayor already has the discretionary power to that.
â€¢ Senator Jack Kolbeck brought up TIFs. Either Jack is naive or he is in on the scam, but he wants to get the TIF down to 0% for developers and eliminate excise taxes for them. He then says “So they can pass the savings down to the consumer/renter.” The tired old Reaganomics argument of trickle down. If you are giving the tax cut to the developer, the developer or contractor will simply put that money in their pocket. They know with the demand of housing in Sioux Falls they have NO reason to pass ‘savings’ on down to the consumer. The tax breaks should go to the consumer once the home is purchased. Trickle down DOES NOT WORK, we have proof of this with the enormous income gap that was created by these horrible policies.
â€¢ Jack also brings up expanding the prison built homes project to Sioux Falls prison. While I am all for this program, I think the inmates should get paid better for it, I also think they should have job guarantees in the industry when they get out and work it into their probation or parole.
â€¢ He also mentions tiny homes (I agree with) and deregulation. That is a buzz word with Republicans, they always seem to think sacrificing safety will save money. In 2018 South Dakota ranked #5 with Highest Rate of Fatal Occupational Injuries. Less regulation is NOT the answer.
I’m not saying the city needs to do this all at once or even change existing ordinances, just try a pilot program based on existing zoning and laws. Shape Places already fixed a hurdle that allows residential areas like this to either fix up or expand their properties. This isn’t rocket science folks. It’s what I told a friend the other day about the issues at the Dudley House. We have this desire in local government to re-invent the wheel and make things complicated while giving them fancy names. We don’t have to do that, we can get simple straight forward ideas from other communities on what works and we don’t even need to travel or pick up a phone to do it. You can get online and see thousands of projects. It just takes time, research and google. When I used to be a full-time graphic designer a fellow designer told me his secret to being so good, ‘90% of my ideas are stolen’.