This is possibly a new low by a city councilor. Michelle emailed a constituent over the weekend and said this;
Honestly, I’m disappointed by the direction of the dialogue around this project. You know that a good leader doesn’t cast fear and doubt in his/her constituents’ minds. When citizens say they are seeking transparency in our government officials, they really mean they’re looking for the truth.
To hide the truth under insinuation and flat-out lies is not transparency in government. But that is what is happening with the garbage being spread by Councilor Stehly and her cohort.
Michelle is probably referring to the NOTICE postcard Theresa sent out below. All the facts were verified by Community Development Director Daren Ketchum 2 weeks ago at a city council meeting. If any of this was a false, Ketchum should have said so and clarified with Theresa at the meeting. He told councilors later that ‘he just didn’t want to argue with Theresa’. So when did Daren plan to have the ‘argument’ if none of this was true?
Besides the egregious remarks about Theresa, who is her ‘cohort’? I would assume it is Pat Starr, but it could be a whole host of people? The Argus, Me, Bruce, etc. Seems funny she supports transparency but can’t name this mysterious ‘cohort’.
She continues her mysterious rant;
The facts are:
1.Â Â It is against the code of ethics set in law, and it is against the terms of this specific contract for city employees or elected officials to be investors in a project of this magnitude. Councilor Stehly and local media who quote her are implying that the mayor or other city employees â€” even Council members â€” are secret investors in this project. If you believe what she is implying, we are all going to make off big and head for Cancun with our plunder from the parking ramp/hotel project. Honestly, it’s insulting and hurtful. I will say as much on Tuesday.
Michelle, we have learned that we can’t just trust this administration’s ‘word’ on something, that was proven with the siding settlement in which the mayor lied about the settlement amount. Besides, when it comes to our taxdollars the prudent thing to do is put it in writing.
2.Â Â The cost of the parking ramp is being reported with a twist in the figures. It will cost upwards of $20.6 million to build the city’s share of this project. But that includes far more than just construction costs and it is disingenuous to make people believe the city is paying some ridiculous amount per parking space. I’m not going to try to convince you otherwise. You need to see it for yourself. Please spend some time viewing the truth on this website: http://www.siouxfalls.org/active-projects/active-projects/parking-ramp-project.aspx. All of the information around this project is included there. Please also watch and review the documents from the city council’s Nov. 21 meeting. It is Item 45 on this webpage: http://docs.siouxfalls.org/sirepub/mtgviewer.aspx?meetid=2656&doctype=AGENDA. Again, facts = transparency.
This is not a good value, the numbers you quote above are proof of this. We simply are not getting a significant amount of parking spaces for the money and really are not solving the problem we should be solving. This is a economic development handout, not a parking solution.
3.Â Â This point is the most important for me. I’m incredibly concerned about the dramatic decrease in sales tax revenues for the city of Sioux Falls, and for the entire state of South Dakota. There are two facts behind this financial hole that is only growing deeper: First is the drought and its effect on the ag economy. Farmers don’t shop in Sioux Falls when their incomes are in the tank. Second is the fact that more and more of us aren’t shopping in Sioux Falls either. All of us local shoppers are online, spending hundreds and thousands of dollars without paying sales taxes. But we’re still demanding that our streets be pothole free and plowed curb-to-curb within hours after the last snowflake. These services require tax dollars. A full-service hotel of the magnitude involved in this public/private partnership will help improve our sales tax collections by attracting precious out-of-town visitors. The NCAA tournament structure (for example) requires a specific number of full-service hotels (I think 12 but I have to confirm that) and this is one more on the scorecard. The fact that it is a public private partnership makes it all the more attractive. This means tax dollars that you and I don’t have to provide (unless we choose to stay overnight downtown which is more and more attractive!).
This one is almost hilarious in itself, and pure speculation. One hotel (that will be competing with 4 other DT hotels for business) certainly isn’t going to pull Sioux Falls out of a tax collection hole. The retail isn’t either. As we know now, many DT retail businesses are closing as fast as they are opening. Financial experts across the country are also predicting another recession comingÂ in late Spring.
It’s critical for you to understand the parking ramp will be paid off in 13 years (or less) and it will not be paid with tax dollars. It is a user-funded project. Some people call that a tax of its own. But if it’s a â€œtaxâ€ it’s not something every taxpayer will pay UNLESS they choose to park in a city parking space. There are lots of other options.
This is debatable, as I have already said, paying government for a service is a tax.
Also important to understand is that we’re not inventing some weird, corrupt new wheel here. This model is highly successful in communities across the country. Anyone who travels outside South Dakota has experienced the benefits of projects like this.
Like the Sanford Sports Complex TIF, we are setting a precedent in Sioux Falls, don’t care about other communities. We should be treading very lightly here, and we should be getting the best value for the citizens. I don’t see this here. When setting a precedent in governing we shouldn’t take the ramrod, get R’ doneÂ approach we should review this project with a fine tooth comb.
And, finally, providing public parking in Sioux Falls only serves to keep parking rates low. There are far more privately-owned parking spaces in Sioux Falls than public. The per-day/per-month/per-year rate would be far higher if it weren’t for the low-cost competition provided by the city.
Rates will go up, they have to support the payments of the bond.
I’m proudly voting in favor of this project on Tuesday as another step in the positive, progressive growth of this amazing community I call home.
Sioux Falls City Council
It still baffles me that at least 6 councilors and the mayor support this project. I have been following city government closely for 12 years and this appears to be the biggest scam I have seen in a long time. It just shows in the fierce defense of the project in Erpenbach’s email in which she calls Stehly a liar. Kill the messenger is the only line of defense they have because they truly know, when you look at the ‘facts’ of this project, the math just doesn’t add up.