I come to suck the blood out of the city coffers!

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;

• 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.

• 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.

• 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.

• 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’.

9 Thoughts on “UPDATE: Sioux Falls CountCilor Alex Jensen misconstrues how the city can use TIFs

  1. Very Stable Genius on October 2, 2021 at 2:16 pm said:

    Perhaps, there is something I don’t understand here, but isn’t the issue “blight” with current state law?

    Yes, locally, we could make it stricter, but not weaker. However, affordable housing currently can only be built with a TIF in the core where you are most likely to find legitimate blight, but if you are thinking of also building affordable housing in the growth areas, like near Amazon, then it will be hard to find blight, because you really can’t define prairie or farmland as “blight” under current state law, can you?

    But then again, if you take the word “blight” out of the statute, then you have really let the cat out of the bag for future TIFS regardless of the intent of the project or projects, have you not? But boy, that would sure be really handy for our developers in the future, however, wouldn’t it? AND, perhaps that is Alex!’s real intent. 😉

    ( and Woodstock adds: “What if we declare the whole city and the adjoining prairie to be blight?”… “Or, would that reflect too negatively upon our community and prevent a second Chick-fil-A from ever being built here?”… )

  2. D@ily Spin on October 3, 2021 at 12:03 am said:

    TIF’s are gifts to campaign contributors. They’re borderline criminal. There’s no reason for them unless it’s for social services. We’ve got more jobs than can be filled. Why offer enticement when it ends up building empty parking ramps or acquiring undevelopable property. Ok, build indoor tennis or Olympic swimming because it can later be purposed into something practical. Ok, restore an archaic school into a pavilion but once the old timers die make it a new city hall. Meanwhile, lots of waste for meaningless projects that stand alone to prove how ignorant and impractical local political types have become.

  3. Mike Zitterich on October 3, 2021 at 11:00 am said:

    Very Stable Genius,

    Yes, you can actually find Blighted lands on agriculture land. TIFS was a bi-product that derived from the early pioneering days of homesteading the land. An American would move west in the first 50 years after Congress passed the 1862 Homestead Act, squat on the land, claim 80-160 acres of land, build a house, a barn, and work the land to cultivate, raise cattle, pigs, sheep etc.

    Because many early pioneers were not well equipped in farmining techniques, this often resulted in damaging the top soil, and then thanks to the great depression of the 1930’s and the dust storms that occurred as well, much of that caused blights in the land itself.

    So during the 1940’s and early 1950’s – many of the State’s began passing laws creating Incentive Financial Tools in order to repair the land, creating Tax Increment Financing as a tool to encourage Land Owners, Farmers, Business Owners, the Railroad Trust Companies, to repair their land, develop that land, in order to profit off the land again.

    Keep in mind, since 1933 – many of the States began taking possession of the “land patents” as the landowners began to cede the land to the State government, this now means the State now has a vested interest in the land and can control the land use as it wants, collect property taxes on the land, and, and rezone the land to fit a more productive purpose.

    This Also meant, the government had to encourage Land Owners to redevelop their lands, in comes TIFS. They can be used repair farm land, or other blights caused by early pioneers as well. Affordable Housing was not the leading motivator to use TIFS, essentually, State’s and Cities simply wanted land owners to buy up blighted land, for the sole purpose of “economic” and “Community” development.

    Hence – Counties and Large Cities took more advantage of TIFS more so than Farmers did. But yes – you can appy for and use a TIF in order to fix “blighted lands” caused by Farming itself. So The SIOUX FALLS DEVELOPMENT FOUNDATION land area qualifies.

  4. Very Stable Genius on October 3, 2021 at 1:44 pm said:

    But how much “blighted lands” are there around the outskirts of Syox Phals? Enough to build affordable housing?

  5. Really on October 3, 2021 at 4:31 pm said:

    VSG, could you please do at least a little research before you start crying online. TIFs have a wide variety of uses. I suggest you type what you are interested in to this thing called GOOGLE, it will be just like 2005. You got this Bro.


  6. Mike Lee Zitterich on October 3, 2021 at 7:05 pm said:

    VSG, anyone who “owns” land can redevelop their land for any reason they want to. In order to apply for, and create a TIF District, they have to follow State Law regarding TIFS –

    11-9-2. Municipal powers related to districts.

    A municipality may exercise those powers necessary and convenient to carry out the purposes of this chapter, including the power to:

    (1) Create districts and define the boundaries;

    (2) Prepare project plans, approve the plans, and implement the provisions and purposes of the plans, including the acquisition by purchase or condemnation of real and personal property within the district and the sale, lease, or other disposition of property to private individuals, partnerships, corporations, or other entities at a price less than the cost of the acquisition and of any site improvements undertaken by the municipality pursuant to a project plan;

    (3) Issue tax increment financing bonds;

    (4) Deposit moneys into the special fund of any district; and

    (5) Enter into any contract or agreement, including an agreement with bondholders, determined by the governing body to be necessary or convenient to implement the provisions and effectuate the purposes of a project plan. A contract or agreement may include conditions, restrictions, or covenants that run with the land or otherwise regulate the use of land or that establish a minimum market value for the land and completed improvements to be constructed by a specific date, which date may not be later than the date of termination of the district pursuant to § 11-9-46. Any contract or agreement that provides for the payment of a specific sum of money at a specific future date shall be made pursuant to the provisions of chapter 6-8B.

    11-9-3. Planning commission hearing on creation of district–Notice.

    The planning commission shall hold a hearing at which interested parties are afforded a reasonable opportunity to express views on the proposed creation of a district and the district’s proposed boundaries. Notice of the hearing shall be published once, not less than ten nor more than thirty days before the date of the hearing in a legal newspaper having a general circulation in the redevelopment area of the municipality. Before publication, a copy of the notice shall be sent by first class mail to the chief executive officer of each local governmental entity having the power to levy taxes on property located within the proposed district and to the school board of any school district that has property located within the proposed district.

    11-9-4. Recommendation by planning commission for creation of district–Designation of boundaries.

    The planning commission shall designate the boundaries of a district that the planning commission recommends be created. The planning commission shall submit the recommendation to the governing body.

    State Law pretty much trumps City Ordinances, but allows the Municipality to govern them as they wish to achieve stated goals of the community, as per public hearings, advice and consent of the planning commission, and finally – collectively as a “CITY” we agree to such plan.

  7. Very Stable Genius on October 3, 2021 at 8:18 pm said:


    I don’t doubt the uses, but what about the blight thing? Plus, didn’t I write at the top “Perhaps, there is something I don’t understand here, but isn’t the issue “blight” with current state law?

    So, in a strange way, I thank you for trying to answer my question. Constructive criticism, right? Oh, and how’s everything at city hall?

  8. alex doesn’t strike me as being too smart. although he does like to hunt pheasants. and kolbeck gets his talking points from arch beal.

  9. The Guy From Guernsey on October 6, 2021 at 1:59 pm said:

    So much wrong-headed policy stated during this program.

    “We need to incentivize Southeast Tech to put out more people.”, Alex Jensen (paraphrased).
    Whaaat? A prospective student is incentivized by the promise of a satsfying career to pursue training at an instutution like Southeast Tech. Incentives to Southeast Tech will only serve to bloat their budget and fill the pockets of administrators (as well as the pockets of cronies who will function as consultants to such an effort).
    The scholarships for training in specific programs at our tech colleges, with conditions on employment following completion, are nice, but are really a form of indentured servitude.

    State Senator Kolbeck proposes 0% TIFs and foregoing the collection of contractor exise taxes on “workforce housing” projects!?!?
    It is absolutely preposterous that everybody else should continue to pay sales taxes, as well as full measure of their real estate tax obligation while contractors, builders and developers are offered handouts from the government teat.
    The free market is providing plenty of incentive to participate in the housing market. Please keep the government teat tucked in your lingerie Senator Kolbeck.

    BTW, have you noticed that the specific term “workforce housing” was prominently placed in the development proposal for the quasi-industrial plot adjoining the railroad tracks located off Rice St/Holly Blvd between Sioux Falls and Brandon, as well as in the recent rogue proposal for trackside in downtown Sioux Falls.
    Each a clear invitation to receive a handout from the government teat.

    Kolbeck repeats the mantra of the Hultgren Drake Institute, “building codes are exceedingly and needlessly onerous upon builders and contractors.”
    Almost as if someone (cough, cough, Sanford Health, cough, cough) has a large inventory of houses which could be moved to new foundations, except to avoid the obligation to bring them up to code in the process.

    Kolbeck’s presentation was a role play in feudalism – the nobles are seated at the table to distribute as scraps the proceeds from the generosity of their lord (federal government windfalls). Simply replace “serf housing” for the term “workforce housing” throughout.

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