As the city council discussed giving $10 million towards the DSU Cyber project tonight and after watching the presentations and seeing the state supports this, I think it is a good project. Not sure I believe all the bull thrown about today, but it is a positive investment. I did shake my head though when the Dean of DSU was talking about what the $10 million investment in infrastructure was for and said something like, “It’s for campus lights and sidewalks, but we don’t know what that will cost since the final plans haven’t been drawn up yet.” So where did the $10 million number come from?

But what shocked me was these slides presented by the city finance director. Fortunately I took a screenshot, because these slides are NOT available online. The city has millions laying around in the reserve funds.

It is unfortunate the council was not told this last month so they could come up with projects (like cleaning up our core, or even better, CUTTING PROPERTY TAXES FOR ALL OF US! Instead the mayor, who hates transparency, hid the information from the council so he could push his pet projects, so far spending $12.5 million of it, with NO input from council except a vote once it was packaged in a neat little bow.

Whether you agree or disagree with the bonuses or the cyber project is of little concern, it is how the mayor secretly negotiated these projects that is very bad for good government.

Sioux Falls citizen and economics enthusiast Mark Weber (who I believe actually has an economics degree) has been addressing the Sioux Falls City Council for several years at public input showing the other side of the Sioux Falls economy. Since the city is usually a month or two behind on releasing the monthly financials (we haven’t had a report since November 2020) Mark draws his data from the SD Department of Revenue. Thank you for your advocacy Mark. Here are his conclusions of 2020;

When I say this, I’m NOT talking about lives. No matter someone’s age, every life matters in this crisis.

I am talking about certain businesses that will ultimately close, and that’s not such a bad thing. I do however feel bad for the people who will lose their jobs permanently due to bad business planning.

The first victims will be small, privately owned restaurants and bars. I will miss a handful of them, but for the most part, some of them I will not. I have often argued that Sioux Falls has 700 restaurants yet not a decent place to eat. Some of these places will not be missed.

The second victims will be small franchise restaurants. A lot of them will close due to national sales and little to do with what is going on locally. Good riddance.

The third victims will be privately owned clothing boutiques, gift shops, etc. Or as I call them, rich doctor’s wives hobby businesses, I know that is not completely accurate, but a lot of them will not be missed either.

I have a feeling that many small telephone booth casinos will close to. Thank GOD! I wish they would all close.

Further down the road many of these smaller, privately owned car dealerships will shut down as the economy begins to spiral out of control. Also will not be missed. When I was looking for a used car a few months ago, I was amazed at all of the crooked crap they tried to pull over on you. I ended up purchasing a car from a trusted, local, larger dealership.

Many realtors will be also out of work when the housing market begins to go sour. This one is hard to predict though, because it could go in the opposite direction with rock bottom interest rates. This sector will be interesting to watch.

Small landlords will also be going bankrupt when renters can’t pay, and they can’t find tenants. This is sad, because they supply housing to many lower income folks, their options will dry up. Affordable housing will go straight out the window. This may have some positive results with the city looking at rent control legislation.

You may see some small national retailers close and some smaller grocery franchises.

I also suspect some major manufacturers will have some big layoffs or closures. Many have already started including a certain ‘ag’ business and a certain ‘energy’ company.

The good part of all this, thrift stores will be booming, I love thrift stores. I rarely buy anything new unless it is a tomato or apple. LOL. But it may be slim pickings for me 🙁

As I told someone last night, once the virus ends, the real sickness comes, the bottom dropping out of our economy locally and nationally. I am hoping we can recover quickly, I really do, but I also remember what 2008’s recovery was like, I still think some sectors are still in recovery from it. I compare this virus to getting a broken leg, it only takes a split second, but the recovery takes a lot longer. Don’t believe what the POTUS says, we won’t bounce back from this in a couple of months.

It’s going to be a rough couple of years. Enjoy the time you may be spending at home, use this time as I have to self reflect on what is important in your life. More and more the answer to me has been very simple; Friends. I miss them more than even Big Macs.

Mark Weber is a regular inputer at council meetings, mostly on economic issues (I believe he has an economics degree). He recently sent this email to a city councilor;

For a long time (years) the finance department provides monthly graph of value of building permits, and a comparison to at least the previous couple of years.  I would be interested in knowing both the value and percentage of building permits that become part of the tax base, which would give a more realistic indicator, ie. projects of the city (public sector), non-profits (hospital), portion of private enterprise or public / private partnership that have been granted TIF.  I don’t believe any of this becomes part of the tax base (TIF’s eventually in 20 years).

Has anyone on the council already asked this question and I am unaware of the results?  I think this would be useful information to the taxpayers of Sioux Falls.

I have been an advocate for several years that when it comes to building permit valuations for the year it should be separated into categories, as Mark has suggested. Public projects and non-profits that don’t pay property taxes really can’t be put in the same basket. It was a way for city administrators to inflate numbers. Just look at the new Jefferson HS project. I can guarantee that we wouldn’t have even gotten close to last year’s record without it on the books. If they are paying NO property taxes (actually costing us), or are receiving rebates in the form of TIFs and BIDs how can it be a true economic indicator? It’s not, it’s just propaganda. I have asked the council for years to demand the administration break down the numbers and give a true representation.