UPDATE: Sioux Falls City Councilors work 30 hours a week? LOL!

As a person who actually has followed council legislation for around 20 years, I am pretty good at calculating how much ‘work’ is put into the job. But some of them seem to pad the numbers;

Most councilors have outside jobs and work at least 30 hours a week for the city. Doing the math at the current pay, a city councilor currently makes $12.57 per hour.

I’ll guess the reporter didn’t come to this estimate on her own, I’m sure it is what she was told. I will admit I have known councilors over the years that have committed way more then 30 hours a week to the position, there are at least three of them now that put in at least that or more. But if you just calculate face time on the dais (official public meetings) with actual interaction with constituents, the math comes to about 10-15 hours a week. There are three things I would consider ‘work’ when it comes to councilors time; 1) Public meetings, 2) research, education, document review and legislation creation and 3) responding to constituent phone calls and emails. Going to community events and eating free donuts and lunches with business people that are trying to influence your vote doesn’t fall under ‘work’ more like a fringe benefit. It’s easy to figure out who fully spends time doing these things and those that don’t just by watching discussion and how easily things pass. I think some councilors think ‘work’ is concocting deals behind the scene with each other and business friends is part of the job, I know the last mayor certainly thought that, but that is a perk and NOT a job duty.

I just find it extremely ironic that one of the laziest councilors who hasn’t had an original idea since he graced the dais is the one proposing a 30% raise.

I also don’t think the salary of councilors is what is holding people back from running;

Sioux Falls City Councilor Marshall Selberg hopes to attract more people to public service in the future, as Mayor or on the Council.

“We want the best and the brightest in this job, and quite frankly, compensation as a part of that conversation,” said Selberg.

It is what it costs to run for the office that seems to break records every election cycle that is a deterrent. Jensen raised $127K and only beat Stehly by under a 100 votes. How does an average person like a mechanic or call center rep even compete with that? They can’t. They don’t want these kind of people on the council and that is why the banksters, developers and bondsters pad the campaigns to keep the average citizen off the dais, it happens in school board races also. I have argued for a long time that the city races should be publicly funded to even the playing field and base the campaigns on the best ideas not who has the most yard signs. Money in the local races is the rot that is holding back true constituent advocates. Just think if we took that 30% raise ($245K increase in the first year) and spent it on publicly funded campaigns instead? I think we would get much more bang for our buck.

UPDATE: This is some research I did in 2018 about director pay.

I also sent this email response to Mike Zitterich and the city council after Mike suggested we base Mayoral pay on CAFR;

Mike, Let’s look at some data.

Average median pay for individuals in Sioux Falls is $33,500

Average CEO pay is $143,000 (9%)

Highest CEO pay is $182,000 (4%)

Highest percentage (20%) is $80,000

But public leadership should NEVER be compared to private leadership. CEO pay is based on how well a company’s profits perform. The city is not a ‘company’ it is a ‘service’. I tell you all the time, local government is easy, collect taxes, provide services, be transparent.


If you compare mayoral and city manager pay in the region (Fargo, Des Moines, Lincoln, Omaha and Minneapolis) it varies between $100-$200. Minneapolis mayor makes $126,000 with a population of 430K+ but the 13 city councilors run the city and he only has jurisdiction over the police.

There are different forms of government so it is complicated, but as far as I can tell no one bases pay on the population or the CAFR. It is pretty obvious that the SF proposal is based on paying the mayor $1 per person and not on actual regional data.


Even if you look at director pay in the region for example Lincoln, NE which has a population of 283,000 about the highest a director can make is around $150,000 with most in that $80-90K range.

Let’s face it, if this would have been researched better and an actual comprehensive study was done (I did basic research in 1 hour), the result would be that the mayor and council is already being well compensated and further more that directors make quite a bit more regionally, this is without factoring in the lower cost of living in Sioux Falls. Does anyone actually believe the mayor’s salary should be 6X more than the average citizen in this community? I don’t and I would suggest you withdraw this proposal and start from scratch with real data and study before you experience the humiliation at the ballot box when most voters will reject this handily.



8 comments ↓

#1 Very Stable Genius on 12.16.21 at 9:18 pm

That’s why we need to get rid of the city wide council seats and explain the council to about 25 neighborhood seats.

( and Woodstock adds: “Ya, with a 25 member council Taupeville would have about six seats on that council, which is about what they have now”….. )

#2 D@ily Spin on 12.17.21 at 10:35 am

When you take away time they’re not listening to public comment or promoting themselves for higher office, there’s not much production.

#3 Fear & Loathing in Sioux Falls on 12.17.21 at 12:48 pm

They should turn the council jobs into full-time jobs, then the council members could pick up a part-time job on the side to make ends meet and to fulfill their corporate interests.

#FirstPremierIsNowHiring! #ThenNoPayRaiseNeeded

#4 "Woodstock" on 12.17.21 at 2:39 pm

“‘explain’?” 🙁

#5 Mike Lee Zitterich on 12.17.21 at 5:40 pm

You are not ever going to get rid of the AT LARGE Chairs, they, despite my early thinking of simply having a ALL DISTRICT City Council, are very much needed. I had this discussion with the CRC this past year, and our charter framers did ask the question about having all district seats, or at-large seats. Both are needed.

I proposed a recommended plan to revise the charter to allow for the Districting Commission to align the city in several smaller districts equal to 1 PERSON “per” 29,000 People, which I feel is the proper size for a district, but I also concluded, at least 2 At Large Chairs are needed in order to protect the Majority from the Minority.

Let alone, the “Vested” owners of the city – the so called Land Owners and Property Holders will never allow for an ALL DISTRICT CITY, cause those At Large Reps are their last line of defense against mob rule.

Thanks to my ‘public discussion’ one of the questions raised was:

5) Why were three At-Large council seats written in the Charter vs. doing everything based by
district:

See 7 below. Model City Charter, 8th Ed (p. 28): “Local preference should decide the ratio of atlarge to district members. Opinion ranges from favoring a majority being elected at large to a

majority being elected by and from districts. However, for jurisdictions concerned about scrutiny by the U. S. Department of Justice or the courts under either § 2 or § 5 of the Voting Rights Act, precedent shows a clear preference for the majority of the council to be elected by and from districts.”

So it is my understanding, and I do agree with that logic, that “WE” should have as many odd numbered city districts as much as possible to gain a formulate a well maintained and represented membership of the people on the council, but we also need At-Large Reps to balance out that scope, but the At Large Reps must be as few in number as to not drawn out the voice of the people, but enough to protect the majority from the minority.

#6 Why Mikey on 12.18.21 at 9:03 am

Mikey’s need for At Large seats is as absurd as our actually having them. The thought of having At Large seats would make them a separate body or a bicameral city council.

The thought we could have a “people’s” house and a “developers/landed aristocracy” house to protected the rich and powerful is crazy as a Minnesota loon in heat. The rich and powerful already have seats at the table and Mikey’s idea make sure the rest will be serfs doing their work and paying their bills.

#7 Further Fear & Loathing on 12.18.21 at 12:55 pm

What about establishing a security council, where Sanford, First Premier, and let’s say, Taupeville, could have permanent seats on it, while there would be two other seats which would have a temporary placement like for two years. I could imagine such a council where Sanford, First Premier, and Taupeville would be joined with the crowd from the Lucky Lady Casino and Pettigrew Heights in general and maybe that rowdy crowd from around 6th and Cleveland might want to join in, too. But who would bring the Khrushchev shoe to the table? It probably would be Taupeville. They’re into shoes. (No one talks about Tuthill anymore. Have they become the new Taiwan?)

#8 Mike Lee Zitterich on 12.18.21 at 6:17 pm

Oh no, now someone making chat names directed towards me, I feel honored, thank you.

Two issues with your comments, it is NOT my opinion on whether or not to have District Reps vs At Large Reps; it was the opinion of the majority of residents who wanted voiced their opinion back in 1990-1994, and decided on 5 districts along with 3 At Large Reps.

If you paid attenton to my ‘presentation topic’ during this years CRC – you would have discovered Question #7 to my concept/proposed city council compositin.

7) Why was the Council number limited to 8 Members:
Evidence shows the Charter writers followed the Model City Charter at the time (7th Ed). The edition recommends an even number of members, but does not prescribe the number of district members. The original Charter writers contemplated four districts with four at-large members. There was an interest in districts, but also strong trepidation about parochialism. A
compromise was struck, resulting in what we have today. The model charter also recommends a small council – from 5 – 9 members.

If you read that reasoning, you would learn that the PEOPLE making up Sioux Falls are the ones whom recommended a City Council of 5-9 members, with 5 district reps, and 3 at large reps.

The AT LARGE REPS act kind of like the S.D Senate in order to balance the power between Common Residents vs those pesky “VESTED” owners of the City itself known as Land Owners/property holders.

Again, the design is warranted in order to help protect the Majority, from the likes of the minority who have 5 votes on the council, this helps maintain some level of control of the governing process.