Entries Tagged 'Property Taxes' ↓

Is it time to END the Sioux Falls Mayor’s Discretionary Tax Rebate Program?

We found out a few years ago that the Planning Department in collusion with the Mayor’s office has a list of PRIVATE developer and corporation tax rebates. The kicker is all of the rebates are approved ONLY by the discretion of the Mayor. There is NO City Council OR public review of the rebates. The mayor simply signs off on them. While they can be seen by the public you have to know who to ask. There are NO public presentations of the recipients.

How do they work? Basically a developer or company, or investment group (LLC) makes significant upgrades to the property and a portion of the cost (usually around half) is rebated back to them from their paid property taxes. Like TIFs, it is only an option for a select few and extremely UNFAIR to the 99.99% of property taxpayers in the community.

Now, I’m not going to cry corruption, I’m just going to keep this simple, it is time to end this welfare handout because 1) it goes against the FREE market system but more importantly 2) The mayor should not have this kind of power and control to secretly hand out tax rebates to whomever he wants to.

I think the City Council needs to end this process ASAP.

You will see below how random and highly questionable the recipient list is which adds the element of corruption;

Endeavor 212 LLC, Dr. Richard Brue, Historic DTSF Property, this one surprises me since downtown property is very valuable and certainly doesn’t need a tax break.

• Smithfield, this company owned by Communist Chinese investors got a massive tax break in 2019 and again in 2020.

Graco Minnesota Inc, this very successful company based out of Minnesota got a tax break. Why?

• Schenk Properties LLC and AL Properties LLC may be intertwined with Murray properties and they have gotten massive tax breaks in Foundation Park for 3 different properties in 2019 & 2020.

• 4 Suns-I90 LLC, I believe has developed property on North Cliff and 60th, they are based out of Fargo, ND. So I guess we don’t only give tax cuts to the Chinese but also our Northern neighbors.

Third Avenue Lofts LLC, Riverview Square LLC are Legacy Projects intertwined with Norm Drake. So I guess the mayor felt it was okay to give a tax break to a guy involved with the Copper Lounge collapse and the Bunker Ramp debacle.

KV LLC, this one is a mystery, but seem to be based out of Sioux City, SD.

UPDATE: Mayor TenHaken to announce re-election campaign a day before trying to sneak in a tax increase thru resolution?

UPDATE: This is NOT a fee increase, just an annual notice that the fee exists and renewed, it has since 1992.

City Council Members and Council Staff,

Good afternoon. A resolution (per City Ordinance 96.033) will be presented at Tuesday’s City Council
Meeting to levy an annual front foot assessment fee for street maintenance and repair. The special
assessment funds are used to partially fund the highways and streets operational budget for the
repairs and maintenance of our city streets to include pothole patching, asphalt surface
maintenance, and street sweeping.The front foot assessment fee has been in place since 1992.
The front foot assessment fee will be $1.00 per foot for 2022 and has not changed since 2009.
Attached is the resolution and on the back is the amount that has been collected for each respective
year since 1992.
Thank you, Mark Cotter


It looks as though Mayor Poops is finally going to announce he is running. The irony of this is astounding when you consider that on Tuesday night he is trying to push an over $9 million dollar tax increase thru resolution (item 21) which is legally dubious since tax or fee increases normally go thru the ordinance process of 1st and 2nd readings AND a presentation to the council in advance. Some councilors I spoke with didn’t even know it was on the agenda.

According to the math (thanks Mike Z – I updated his numbers);

Looks to be a new tax being created assessed on the residents of Sioux Falls, is this true?  $1.00 Per foot per property along our ‘streets’. If we have a total # of 900 centerline street miles in this city (1,800 if you include both sides of the street), and each mile is roughly 5,280 feet, this tax generates $9,504,000.00 for the city to be used to maintain and resurface highways, streets, and roads in the city. With a $654,000,000 million revenue stream, is a new tax really necessary?

Once again Paul is showing us his lack of transparency and his dark hatred towards open government. Most government’s would have put this thru a vetting process with it’s public works department, the city council and the citizens. Not to mention in the same night there will be a property tax increase (item 15). You also have to remember we spent most of the $50 million in Covid money on play things and gave away $144 million in tax rebates this year. It looks like we will be heading into the dark abyss for another 4 years unless Paul gets one heck of a challenger.

Sioux Falls City Council Agenda, Sep 14, 2021

Informational Meeting, 4 PM

Presentations on the City Council and Mayor’s 2022 Budget and Covid
(what is surprising in the City Council Budget is the expenditure of over $200K for the City Election. I have NEVER seen it that high. I would be curious about the explanation on that one.)

Regular Meeting, 6 PM

Item #6, Approval of Contracts, Sub Item #20. It’s a mysterious what this is, but it seems like some partnership for transit. Be nice to have a presentation and explanation instead of burying it in the consent agenda.

Item #15, 2nd Reading, Property Tax Increase. Of course the Rubber Stamp Council who gave away $144 million in TIF tax rebates this year has NO problem with raising our taxes by millions in a Covid economic recovery.

Item #17, Resolution, Moving the Sculpture Sea Dream from the DT Dog park location to Prairie Green Golf Course. I wonder if the artist was ever consulted about this? I know once when I talked to him about the sculpture at an Augustana art reception (he used to be a teacher) he was irritated that people would call it ‘the golf ball’.

Item #21, Resolution, Levy Front Assessment of $1.00 per foot. Maybe I am missing something here, but shouldn’t this be 1) a 1st and 2nd Reading and 2) an explanation as to why we need this in conjunction with a property tax increases?

#22, Resolution, One Sioux Falls. So this is a perfect example of something that belongs in the resolutions category on agenda, meaningless word games from the mayor’s office.

Improper Political Sign Placement

Trust me, I am not going to rail on Mr. Pizer for breaking the rules. In every local election I see the same ignorant mistakes. In this case, not only has Anthony placed his sign on restricted property, he ironically placed it out of the district. And you want to be my latex salesman!

I believe this was either in the Harrisburg or Tea school district

There are some simple rules here;

• Never place signs on public property or in the parking strip commonly known as the boulevard.

• Place your signs in the ACTUAL district you are running in.

• Always check local ordinances on what you can and cannot do.

To tell you the truth, I could give to sh!ts about who is going to replace another rubberstamper on the school board. I just know my property taxes continue to grow and grow and grow, and nobody on that board cares.

Tax Reduction Program for Downtown Sioux Falls residential property

Turns out there is a program, but only 3 properties have taken advantage of it since 2007, and you have to invest $30,000 in the property before getting the program.

At the informational meeting today where they explained the program, most of it goes towards business, and not a surprise the part they want to expand. I’m all for it for local businesses but the program needs to be expanded to residential and the $30,000 expenditure should be drastically reduced to $2,500 or more.

But that of course isn’t the plan, more socialism to big developers and banksters and crumbs for the rest of us.

Why Did we Give Sioux Falls School District Employees an $800 dollar bonus?

Before everyone calls me a Scrooge, I will say I agree with School Board president Mickelson’s sentiments;

“. . . yet give as much as we can to our staff while they are going through this hard and very difficult time,” Cynthia Mickelson said.

I think if public servants like teachers go the extra mile they deserve a little something more.

But here are my issues with this;

• This is not the private (for profit) sector. The school district is funded by taxpayers. Believe it or not, most, if not all of my friends and family have worked straight thru this pandemic including myself. Many of them have never got a ‘bonus’ including myself for showing up. But the very workers we subsidize with our taxes are handed bonuses for simply showing up and doing their job – just like the rest of us have. I get it, it’s not easy, there are many days I just want to say, ‘Screw it’ this isn’t worth the risk, but I also know we will get thru this, so I soldier on.

• Instead of a bonus, maybe better sick leave and raises would be more appropriate. As I understand it, district employees have a very good sick leave policy.

• Unlike the private sector, school district employees get fantastic benefits, healthcare and PENSIONS! PENSIONS! I know, something that has almost disappeared in the private sector.

• Many school district employees get the entire summer off. Basically they receive 12 months of pay for 9 months of work. I get it, they may work many more hours during that 9 months, but how many of you in the private sector would love to work a few extra hours a week to get 3 months off in the summer? I think I know the answer to that question. Let’s talk about a ‘bonus’!

While I think it is nice gesture to give this bonus, remember, this comes from you and me, not the school board. It is also fair to point out that the more money we give towards wages is less money we are spending on learning materials and capital expenses for EDUCATING STUDENTS!

I think if this community was flush with money, this would be a blip on the radar screen. But while a lot of us in the private sector are struggling, we ask when are we getting our $800 property tax cut?

Why couldn’t this bonus come from the millions of dollars of Federal Corona virus monies instead of handed over to businesses that may or may not trickle it down to their workers?

This bonus was foolish and fiscally irresponsible.

I think a better plan would have been giving the staff that worked through this pandemic full-time a better raise instead of a blanket bonus.

REWARD THE ONES THAT DESERVE IT WITH PERMANENT APPRECIATION IN THEIR PAYCHECKS THROUGHOUT THE YEAR!

I often shake my head when elected officials pat themselves on the back when they are giving our money away. To all the staff that got this bonus, your’e welcome, to the elected officials who got a warm fuzzy feeling for giving my taxes away, you are also welcome.

Property Tax Data from Sioux Falls School District

Notice in the 2nd graphic that while mil rate went down for the District, the county and city went up.

How Strong Towns Principles Relate to Sioux Falls — Municipal Ponzi Scheme

I was sent this article, that I found very interesting relating to the urban sprawl of our city;

Since 2010 the City of Sioux Falls has annexed 3996 acres of land into the city. That is almost 400 acres per year. How much tax revenue did that additional property bring in? How much did it cost to annex those areas? How much will it cost to replace all the associated infrastructure when it needs replacement? The answers to those questions are hard to piece together (maybe a good use of tax dollars would be to hire a company specializing in this kind of data to pull it together for us). In the meantime, we have some anecdotal data to look at.

So Detroit is a cautionary tale for cities caught up in a municipal Ponzi scheme. Here in River City things look pretty good . Sales tax revenue is floating our boat right now. We have money in the budget. Marohn refers to this as the illusion of wealth. It looks like we have money but the residential developments on the edge of town — which don’t generate sales tax directly — are new and don’t require replacement. When that infrastructure requires replacement the property tax revenue collected in those areas probably isn’t going to be enough to pay for it. Other areas of the city that are generating revenue will have to subsidize those areas — until they can’t. It happens slowly then all at once. Welcome to Detroit.

Ironically, several years ago when I got into Strongtowns, one of the main reasons I was drawn to it’s message was what they were saying about Urban Sprawl. It soon will be very expensive to live in Sioux Falls, if we are not already there.

Guest Post: Mike Zitterich, Sioux Falls City Council and Taxes

This was an email Mike sent to City Council and gave me permission to post;

Good Morning,

After attending the 3/3/2020 City Council Session the other night listening to many interesting debates, I want to discuss a few issues that I feel are important here.

The definition of the word Surplus is where you have excess monies available at the end of a fiscal season after all expenses have been paid out for the year.

My definition of a surplus is one of which the people spent a lot of money for the year, and ‘we’ over paid our taxes. This is the proper way to think of a surplus, not to mention, build a case that this would prove that the citizens are overly taxed, and that we could very easily afford to cut the tax rates.

Lets remember here shall we, “I” like many people, only consented to give up a portion of our sovereign property rights to the “City” in order to pool our assets as one to provide us the basic necessary services to each other. Therefore we agreed to fund Basic Government @ 1% Sales Tax in order to pay for…

– Roads/Streets, and the basic maintenance and repairs needed to maintain them thru out the year.

– Public Parks, where we the people have donated, or ceded some of our land to the city in order to provide each other cheap, fun, family activities thru out the township.

– Police Department, we agreed to fund a local police force in order to protect our properties, keeping us safe from bad men and women whom may attempt to harm us.

– Local Fire Department, in order to provide us Fire, Rescue, and Emergency Safety in order keep us safe thus protecting each other and our properties.

– Public Utilities (water, sewer, lights, electricity) in order to pool our infrastructure to help provide the basic most cheapest service possible as a community.

– Public Parking, helping to provide enough sufficient space thru out the town giving us cheap, well maintained parking spaces for FREE or at Discounted User Rates to go about our daily activities as a community of conducting business.

– Public Transportation in order to provide ourselves as a community the most cheapest service possible helping to provide us a way to commute to work, school, or to do daily activities as a community.

– Basic Government Administration in order to help manage, plan, and provide those basic services to the people.

That is all ‘we’ the people have consented to, and these costs should be as cheap and affordable as possible as to NOT over tax the people.

Now, we have placed in our ordinances the ability to raise in the short term of 2 years, the ability to borrow from the people money to invest in Land, Buildings, Infrastructure, New Roads, in order to expand the city, make our daily lives better, let alone improve upon our city. This is in fact the true purpose of our 2nd Penny Sales Tax. And this should be a temporary tax that should be used for 2 year periods, in order to NOT to place a burden on future generations. We simply give the City the ability to extend that tax up to 5 years. But as we ‘vote’ every 2 years to change our councils, the mayor, those Capital Plans change with those elections.

Thus – the 2nd Penny Tax in my opinion is a temporary tax, and should be allowed to expire when ‘we’ have raised the appropriate funds to pay for the land, new roads, new buildings, new infrastructure, etc.

The true measure of what it costs our city is the allocated expenses paid for by the 1st Penny Sales Tax. That is it.

This was the point I believe Pat Starr was attempting to make at the 3/3/2020 Council Session about the Property Tax issue. IF our Sales Tax is consistently creating huge surpluses year in and year out, and our population keeps growing every year by 3,500 people – that is an automatic $2,500,000 in new sales tax revenue every year, couple that with the Mayor restricting funds, re-financing the Bonds, the interest income that comes in from stocks, bonds, and capital, “WE” should be able to stop pulling from the Property Tax that the statutes allow us to take each year. Why do we keep keep taking more from Property Taxes, when we really do not need them.

This current ‘council’ and city administration currently believe that those property tax dollars are ours for the taking, no they are not. And there is NO mandate that we must use them. The statutes simply say, if we do not take them this year, we lose them. That is fine in my book. If we truly do NOT need them to balance our city budget, why not allow the STATE LEGISLATORS re-apportion those funds back to the people directly back to the School Districts, our Seniors, our Homeless population, our Low Income Citizens, our Children’s Lunch Programs, etc. This was the point Pat Starr was making. And I agree with him on that subject manner.

Now – I was hoping that Pat Starr and Greg Neitzert would have extended that little tax debate longer Tuesday night. They are two of the most respected city councilors, Greg and his analytic skills, and Pat with his common sense and due process. This is the DEBATE ‘we’ need to have as a community, and this is the discussion that we must force. I dont want anyone to argue, or fight. No. That is not the point, but those two are probally the best at leading this debate. Not to mention, its my most favorite topic mind you. I call for a respectful discussion in order to address this growing concern of mine –> To Much Revenue leads to an out of Control Government, and that leads to higher tax rates, more expenses, more ‘wants’.

We can very effectively cut our sales tax rates, and take less and less from property tax dollars, thus rewarding the people for their good work of Saving, Investing in our City, to spending lots of money, while helping to promote the city attracting foreigners, tourists, visitors to attend our public events, concerts, and attractions. That helps produce even more sales tax revenue.

Then there is the other Misc-Excise taxes, Imposts, and Duties that fund the Enterprise Funds, Programs, and Services offered by the city that raise their own revenues totally separate from sales and property taxes. They are self sufficient and create huge profits, which then provide us the capital needed to sustain them, invest in them, manage them. Again –> allows us to cut the Direct Taxes we call sales tax and property tax, which hurt the most vulnerable in our community.

Our effective sales tax rate is 1% – it then becomes a matter of how much ‘we’ need to borrow in the short term from the people for new roads, purchase land, new infrastructure, build new buildings, etc. Thus we create cost estimates to put forth a 2 year plan raise tax dollars from the people. That is what the Second Penny is for. And we allow the government to ‘tax’ us for up to 5 years. After we raise the necessary funds, this ‘tax’ should be allowed to expire. Until the next time ‘we’ need to raise funds in the short term.

Folks, this CITY can survive on $70,000,000 in Basic Sales Tax Funds; it can survive on the $200,000,000 it raises in Misc-Excises, Imposts, and Duties we collect to fund the activities and services of the city. We do not need to keep borrowing from bond holders, if we simply DO NOT over tax the people. We should be allowing the “citizens” to pay less in sales tax, which then allows them to invest in their own properties, spend a little extra cash, and perhaps save their money for tomorrow. “They” the citizens then become more vested in our community. Our revenue will rise in due time.

I will continue to hammer at this, lobby to lower our sales tax rate in the spirit of trying to save the citizens money. Thus rewarding them for a job well done.

In the end – we must stop over taxing people, we do NOT need anything so bad that it cannot wait 5 years until we can raise the necessary funds thru the 2nd penny. We need to be responsible, prudent, and manage our tax dollars better. We can and will lower these rates soon enough. It is just a matter of time.

I strongly encourage some thought on an ordinance that would mandate that the 2nd Penny expire every five (5) years; for no less than a term of two (2) years; placing the expiration on the same two year election cycle. This means that during a councilor’s 8 years (should anyone serve 2 terms); they would have to deal with less revenue for 2 of those 8 years in office. Not only does this help the citizens, I believe it encourages public debate, more discussion on goals, agenda, future wants and needs, thus slowing down the process of pushing items thru from 1st and 2nd Hearings. There have been a few items discussed where I felt we could have followed thru and deferred them a couple weeks. Public discussion is what we need to strive for. I do not believe this hurts the city one bit, the goal is to enforce, mandate, and encourage more public discussion on our future needs. 

Our current tax revenue consists of:

  • $126-130,000,000 million worth of Sales/Use Tax
  • $65,000,000 worth of Property Tax dollars (optional)
  • $200,000,000 estimated/projected Misc-Excises, Imposts, and Duties
  • $100,000,000 in Bonds, Federal and State Loans, Grants, Budget Restraints, Bond Refinancing

    Saving the Citizens $60-70,000,000 per year for a term of 2 years should NOT harm the City at anytime. This is a City that has a net position of nearly $2,000,000,000 billion dollars after all expenses, liabilities, debts, and future obligations are paid in full. That equates to writing each ‘resident’ a check in the amount of $10,000 dollars if we were to shutdown the city. That is a lot of money. Government should not create surpluses – that means the people are overly taxed. 

Please, lets encourage this respectful discussion, lets fix our spending problem, our debt problem, lets be good stewards of the community. We owe it to our ancestors, and to our future generations.

*DaCola Note; While I disagree with Mike on several city issues, I think he nailed it in this post. It is getting more and more expensive to live in Sioux Falls, and the main reason is we are extremely overtaxed. I agree that the 2nd Penny should be reviewed every 5 years and adjusted. I also think property taxes should decrease instead of increasing each year.

UPDATE II: The FIX is in on property taxes

UPDATE II: I went and talked to the equalization department today. After reviewing the increase, they explained to me that 90% of the increase is land value, in which is formulated different now. We also calculated that my taxes will probably go up $250 dollars next year, which is NOT $2 a month, just for the record.

UPDATE: I decided to go back and look at the records I could find

From 2008-2009 the value of my home went up 1.8%

From 2009-2012  the value of my home went up 0%

From 2012-2016  the value of my home went up 10% (aprox 2.5% per year)

From 2016-2017  the value of my home went up 1.8%

From 2017-2018  the value of my home went up 1.8%

From 2018-2019  the value of my home went up 2.3%

From 2019-2020  the value of my home went up 21.9%

As I predicted and warned people, the school bond, the new county jail and the multiple TIFs we hand out are going to catch up with us. The $2 a month boloney they pitched us was a farce, because I knew they were going to make hay with the assessments. And sure enough they did.

My increased assessments year after year have been steady, but reasonable. I have owned my home for 17+ years and my property taxes have doubled in that time.

I have done little upgrades to my home, except replacing windows, doors, adding new rain gutters a privacy fence and re-shingling after storm damage. I have done NO upgrades to the interior of my house.

So imagine my surprise when I got this in the mail yesterday;

Well, I was NOT surprised, I saw this coming like a freight train. We can’t keep borrowing money in Sioux Falls and not have a way to pay those bonds, so they bleed it out of us through back door tricks like assessments. Can I afford a 21.9% increase in my assessed value? I suppose, but it also means a lot less money in my pocket.

It was interesting listening to the State Legislators talk yesterday at the legislative coffee about state funding of education. Two Republicans made great points;

• The state gives the districts money and the districts decide how that money is spent (salaries, etc.).

• Administrator pay in SD ranks at 15th while teacher pay is at 49th. I haven’t checked that stat, but I know at one time in was around 22nd. There is a obvious disparity.

• Low voter turnout at school elections. The past school bond and school board elections both had around a 4% turnout. Basically the legislator was saying, if you want to have a say on how your local district is being funded, maybe you should show up and vote in these elections. AMEN Brother! But I also have to add their is voter suppression when you use super precincts, no precincts in the northern part of our city and have district finance department employees ‘hand count’ votes, while the business director puts those counts into the system without oversight.

Who knew that owning a house that was built in 1889 could increase in value by almost 22% in one year? Not bad for a home that is 131 years old. What a joke.