UPDATE II: Is Mayor TenHaken considering City Employee Retention Bonuses?

UPDATE II: Today I heard chatter that the city employees have been openly talking about the bonus they may receive and many are happy with it. One employee mentioned this recently happened in Rapid City;

After two failed motions by the Rapid City Council Monday, 430 city employees will receive $500 in COVID-19 bonuses.

The Rapid City Council voted 6-4 to approve the bonuses for non-public safety employees who worked during the pandemic in 2020. 

Notice they are calling this a Covid bonus. I can see why it almost didn’t pass. While Sioux Falls virtually had NO shut down in the private sector a large portion of Sioux Falls city employees were allowed to work from home.

I also find it ironic that Mayor Poops is considering such a bonus (like Rapid City) after receiving this endorsement;

In the police briefing today it was mentioned that new recruits would get a hiring bonus. I am not opposed to this, because it is a normal practice for the private and public sector to offer hiring bonuses.

But it got me thinking. I thought I heard TenHaken talk about this recently;

“Our city employees are seeing the bonuses and incentives and work-from-home opportunities and every kitchen sink being thrown at employees … so we have to continue looking at how we’re being aggressive in retaining our people and making us an employer of choice,” he said. “We have to get serious about how to compete with the private sector. I have a lot of unfilled positions causing stress for the city.”

First off, besides the corner of 8th & Indiana and a couple dozen panhandlers, the city is running just fine. If we are short on city staff, it certainly isn’t being seen. Day to day operations are not any different then pre-covid.

I don’t know how the city could possibly give retention bonuses. I don’t think it has ever been done before. It would also be a troubling move for the city union(s) to accept a bonus instead of a raise. A bonus is a one time payment that really doesn’t do much to advance your salary. Every year the city council rubber stamps a property tax increase by a certain percentage, and based on their argument this is good because that compounds over the years. Raises also work that way. It would be much better for city employees to negotiate a permanent pay increase instead of a lousy stimulus check from the city and signed by Poops.

I also don’t think it is appropriate to give retention bonuses to current city employees. Studies have shown that current city employees are already some of the best paid in the region AND further more, the city is not a for-profit institution. What would this bonus be based on? Tax collection? Which is also concerning because that means we are collecting too much if we have money to throw around for bonuses to employees who are only measured by their service instead of profits. Also consider around 30% of city employees don’t even live in Sioux Falls or contribute to the tax base.

Further more, where are we at with tax collection last year? Does the mayor have some kind of inside information he is not sharing with the public and a bucket of money he can just throw at the city employees. Why not spend the money on fixing more infrastructure?

But the biggest red flag is the ethics of giving out bonuses right before a city election. It is nothing else but a huge bribe for the city employees who are eligible to vote in April. I’m not even sure that is legal?

If any of this is true (who knows with all the babbling Paul does in the interview), I encourage the Unions to reject the bonus and ask to go back into negotiations for a percentage increase instead and throw this bribe back in Poops face.

UPDATE: This was just posted on the SF City Council agenda for Tuesday informational. So there must be something going on? Bonus or Raise? We will see.

*Some of my city hall moles have told me there is something else brewing. I guess there was some secretive meetings held this week with (some select) councilors and directors in Poops Quarters about some kind private/public partnership with developers and a possible higher education institution. Probably to assist TenHaken’s Tool Team at DSU? 🙂


#1 Mike Lee Zitterich on 01.14.22 at 3:18 pm

How could you ‘define’ such form of Bonus, whether called Hiring Bonus or Retention Bonus?

The State Constitution says that Public Taxes may only be used for public use only (Public Buildings, Utilities, Roads, Administration, Infrastructure).

While it is true, we must compensate a Official, Officer, Elected Official, Employee for their time served, but at the same time, the ‘cost’ of government must be kept as low as reasonably as possible to avoid over taxing the citizens.

Article 11, Section 11 says: “Unauthorized use of public money as felony. The making of profit, directly or indirectly, out of state, county, city, town or school district money, or using the same for any purpose not authorized by law, shall be deemed a felony and shall be punished as provided by law.”

So I would argue that a “BONUS” could conceivably be defined by the constitution as a Gaining or Profiting from public taxes. That is how I would argue this in a public court room…

#2 Anthony Renli on 01.14.22 at 3:42 pm

In PRINCIPLE I’m not against some kind of bonus structure for city employees.
BUT it would have to be reoccuring, part of the negotiated compensation plan for employees, standardized and documented EXACTLY how it will occur AND have fixed metrics as to when it would/wouldn’t be awarded.

If it was me I’d fix it to something like “full bonus is paid out if the city is at 105% (or some value) of annual budget or less, bigger bonus is paid out if the city is overall under budget, smaller bonus is paid out if the city is at 105-1XX% of budget, No bonus is paid out if the city is above 1XX% of the budget.”
Make the targets realistic. Something that CAN be achieved on a typical year.
Make it a fixed percentage of annual salary (say 5%) for employees who are there for the full year and are not nor have been under disciplinary action.

Again – in PRINCIPAL I’m good with this. I just don’t think that our city government would implement this in a way that would actually work, wouldn’t break the bank, OR would be something that people think is actually achievable.

#3 D@ily Spin on 01.14.22 at 3:43 pm

Retention bonuses are absurd. If someone has performed well and has years of employment, a raise according to trade is merited. If the private sector pays more, annual reviews can raise pay. What the city has that is not guaranteed privately is a lucrative retirement. Someone with time and supported by the Union would be foolish to leave for a little more money. Any action by the current mayor is suspicious. This could be a method to give his posse or acquaintances cash that becomes an election contribution for now but continues with individual financial gain hereafter.

#4 Fear & Loathing in Sioux Falls on 01.14.22 at 4:18 pm

Has the mayor learned how to drive a snowplow, yet? Maybe it’s time. Munson once shoveled asphalt. Huether shoveled a lot of things. #IDidntSignUp4This #WheresMyTruckerHat?