Entries Tagged 'Public Works' ↓

Billion dollar permit record in Sioux Falls happened by pouring gasoline on a fire and massive property tax increases

As I have been saying for years, we are breaking these records by ignoring affordable housing, handing out millions in tax rebates and TIFs and including publicly funded projects while raising property taxes a record amount.

If you read the article you see that two large chunks of permitting were projects that received millions in TIF money and another large chunk was public projects like the water treatment plant and the public safety center.

I have often argued that permits should be separated into PUBLIC PROJECTS and COMMERCIAL PROJECTS.

Private Commercial projects build economic growth, but when they are propped up by massive tax rebates it’s just putting gasoline on the fire. As for Public Projects, those are funded by the taxpayers as investments in infrastructure and should NOT be considered towards the permitting financials as part of economic growth. Sure, we have to build these facilities because of growth, but it also means our taxes are going up to do so while handing out tax breaks to the very developers fueling the uncontrollable growth. It is counter productive and simply growth for growth sakes instead measured, calculated slower growth.

I would love to see the city stop giving TIFs for Korean owned egg roll factories and parking ramps and start applying them to neighborhoods. Or better yet abolish TIFs all together and simply invest tax dollars in neighborhoods by encouraging the construction of more affordable housing through other tax incentives. Instead recently the city code enforcers bombarded neighborhoods in the central district with pink spray paint and violation notices for city owned sidewalks. What a great way to prop up our central neighborhoods by fining citizens to fix city owned property (more on this story in the near future).

Recently CountCilor Alex ‘Expert Economist’ Jensen suggested on CityLink that the way to solve our workforce and housing issues is by inviting people to work in Sioux Falls but to live in towns around us like Tea, Hartford, Dell Rapids, etc. Yeah, that’s an awesome way to build a solid tax base 🙁 and this guy works at a bank!

I would also like to see separating commercial and public permits. They don’t represent the same thing and shouldn’t be held up together. It’s like saying you are the championship BBQ’r in your own backyard and buying yourself a trophy. The city saying they broke records by including infrastructure projects they approved and we are paying for through higher taxes is putting the thumb on the scale.

Don’t get me wrong, economic development is good, but let’s be honest about the numbers and where the money is coming from (mostly taxpayers) and let’s start investing in neighborhoods, local businesses and people – then you will see true economic development we can be proud of because you can’t live in a parking ramp, police firing range or an egg roll.

Did the Sioux Falls City Council set themselves up for a discrimination complaint?

The city council bowed down to the garbage haulers last night essentially allowing them to charge a valet fee to pick up garbage by your house if you can’t carry it to the end of the driveway (Councilor Neitzert and Starr voted against the measure). So not only will cans be blowing all over the streets moving forward, they will probably remain there all week since the city really has no enforcement.

One company already told a person today that the valet service would be $17 extra a month even if you have a disability. Some have already been discussing if this is an ADA violation discriminating against handicapped and elderly folks. We will see the complaints coming.

Also, as Councilor Starr pointed out last night, Kiley’s Amendment didn’t get a required 24 hour notice to the council a rule that Kiley and Erickson have squawked about in the past when other councilors have not followed the rule. In fact the city attorney is the one who thinks this rule should be followed even though he remained silent about it last night.

I understand the haulers complaints about gas and labor issues, but the haulers already have the power to raise rates, they just wanted the council to validate it for them.

I have argued that common sense could easily fix many of these issues and actually lower our rates without getting rid of the private service or valet. Two things I have suggested are setting up sectors and days when garbage can be picked up during the week in a specific neighborhood and stop charging the haulers tipping fees unless they go over a certain tonnage or are dropping trash from other communities. The first idea has actually been thrown around for awhile and would save the haulers on fuel and labor. The second idea has probably not been discussed but makes sense. The taxpayers already own the landfill and pay for it’s maintenance. We also make money from the methane and other materials we sell. It doesn’t make sense for the city to charge a private hauler tipping fees then have them turn around and charge the consumer for dropping garbage off at a facility we own. It’s like putting a parking meter in your driveway.

The council should have voted for Neitzert’s original amendment to leave it alone and discussed putting together a task force to explore other options to save money. Neitzert said it best last night, what we currently have now is a ‘community standard’ we should be proud of. Once again, the rubber stampers took the easy cruise control government route that will make service more expensive and messier without solving the root causes. I’m surprised Carnegie didn’t explode last night with all the DUMB on the DIAS.


There is also a rumor circulating that an open meetings violation will be filed since public input was NOT allowed during the meeting on two items (Club David’s liquor license, and Covid study). Both were pulled from the consent agenda and the Chair of the meeting, Mayor TenHaken, did not request public input, and neither did the clerk or other councilors.

Sioux Falls Public Works continues to sponsor a state religion

Just like clockwork, the Jesus plows appear in the Fall. It’s like our own little version of the Taliban. Like Afghanistan, let’s end this war with the US Constitution.

UPDATE: Results of Sioux Falls Garbage Survey are strange

UPDATE: As I suspected today during the informational, the Public Works department dropped their bomb. The garbage haulers want curbside service, don’t want to give a discount for it, and get this, want to charge extra for VALET service (what we currently receive by ordinance). The city council did push back and said a larger discussion must be had first. As I predicted, big business in Sioux Falls wants to get their way, and there is NO way it will trickle down to the citizen consumers. We will see what the rubberstamp council decides, but I’m guessing we (working stiff citizens) will lose in the end, with less service and higher rates. Isn’t deregulation wonderful?

Oh, and if you want a real get in the sack, watch public input during the regular council meeting tonight. Sierra drops the bomb on the Dudley House situation and one lady testifies the Covid vaccination is a bitcoin injection that will be turned on with a micro-chip activated by 5G phones to steal our bank accounts and kill us. LMFAO!

While around 58% of respondents were ok with putting garbage cans at curbside that was about the only clear answer we received.

RESULTS

Some don’t want government to tell garbage haulers what to do, which means the (private haulers) will be telling the consumers what to do and the very reason we have regulation that apparently people don’t want.

And while most consumers agree customer service and price is what they look for most, only around half think they should get a better deal because of curbside. Around another half think it is okay to take the cans to curbside, they just want the hauler to return them to beside their house. So about HALF want HALF-WAY curbside.

The comments are also interesting to read, over 70 pages of them.

I have argued for a long time leave it up to the CONSUMER to decide if they want to take it to curbside, and if so sign a contract with the hauler that says if you do this 100% of the time you will receive a discounted rate in your next bill.

Also, in the comment section, many people feel the city should be broken up in districts so garbage collection only occurs once a week on your block instead of multiple haulers picking up multiple days at multiple times.

I have said for a long time a money and time saving solution to all this madness is for the city to contract with the top haulers (like they do with snow removal) and make it a public system using private haulers. We could supply them their fuel and charge NO tipping fees. We would pay the companies directly for volume and the city would bill you for the garbage fee in your water/sewer bill. You could have the option of having curbside or by your house pickup and one hauler would come to your block once a week.

Many have argued competition keeps prices lower. There really isn’t competition in Sioux Falls. In fact, with all of the companies Waste Management has bought up there really is only one major hauler, them.

One of the main reasons I have argued against curbside is because the haulers are not willing to give a discount for helping them out with fuel and labor costs.

If the council makes changes to curbside, the haulers MUST be willing to discount for that kind of service, but like TIFs they will argue the trickle down economic benefits to the rest of us without actual deliverance of those benefits. Think about it, the results came out on August 20th and the public works department has been fiddling with how they are going to spin this to the public and the council for almost 2 months! In the end we will get screwed.

I truly think the haulers want to save money on labor and fuel, but they also want to put that savings right into their pockets, and frankly, that’s a bunch of garbage.

City of Sioux Falls puts out Garbage Survey

I find this SURVEY to be a bit odd. We have had a rule in Sioux Falls that haulers must pick up your cans next to your home for years, during they Covid they got an emergency exception, which was fine, but now it needs to go back. The issue I have is that they are giving NO discounts to the customers for saving labor costs at curbside. I have argued we need a municipal garbage system that contracts about 4 private haulers that split the city into 4 sections so all the garbage on your block can be picked up the same day by the same hauler which would save us significant money, not to mention tipping costs. It would also allow the city to cap the fees so we all pay the same. It could also consolidate those charges on your water and sewer bill.

I encourage you to take the survey.

Theresa Stehly asks Sioux Falls Mayor TenHaken to look at her when speaking at the City Council Meeting tonight

During the public input portion of the meeting tonight, former city councilor Stehly asked the mayor to stop spraying for skiters in broad daylight. I guess the trucks have been emitting their chemicals before dusk throughout neighborhoods with complaints from people with kids, to people walking with pets. It is also kills beneficial insects. The best time to spray is from dusk to dawn when the skiters come out to play. I guess the city doesn’t really have a reason why except it costs more to spray after dark. I didn’t know running headlights was so expensive. I have complained for years that the city should use safer, natural methods to control skiters. The one reason I don’t have a vegetable garden is because of the spraying. The emission can also cause developmental issues in toddlers. But that’s typical of authoritarians, save pennies over here while harming the health and welfare of citizens while handing out $20 Million dollar plus tax rebates to developers.

I didn’t see Paul’s face, but when Theresa was addressing him, she asked him to look at her (I guess he was staring at his shoes, something you can do when the cruise control is on).

What did you think of the city’s response to the last snow storm?

Looks like Mayor Stoneless thinks we did a Heckuva job;

I will first defend Public Works and say that many things are out of their control. We often get early Spring heavy snowstorms, this is nothing new and they cause a ton of issues. Also, when it comes to snowgates, I think they tried to use them at first but with heavy snow they often break sheer pins and cause maintenance issues, so that argument is also moot.

What I find interesting is the response time. The two previous administrations tried to get the city plowed very quickly. I have heard behind the scenes that is not the goal of the current Plowing Czar and Mayor. In fact my street wasn’t plowed until after NOON on Tuesday, and it was pretty pointless because most of it had already melted by then.

I will still maintain that this administration is trying to get away with spending less money on snow removal each year. But $94 million dollar tax rebates to egg roll factories from Korea? Money well spent!

I warned about lack of plowing on residential streets

Well, if you think the residential streets are bad tonight, wait until the mess 24 hours from now.

I have been gradually seeing the past 3 years how the public works/street department in some weird effort to save money, has been neglecting to plow residential streets claiming ‘mother nature’ will do the job for them.

Sorry, that’s not the case in late December McFly.

Last Wednesday we had a blizzard that left about 3-4 inches and massive drifts on residential streets, none of it was plowed or removed. Yesterday we had another 2-3 inches added on top of that with little to no snow melt. The residential street I live on has well over 4 inches of half sloppy have compacted snow with several drift piles.

Oh, but it gets better, we are getting another 4-6 inches or more tomorrow on top of what is already making residential streets dangerous.

The main roads and emergency snow routes have been clean for a long time. Couldn’t the street department at least hit the troubled residential streets before we get hit in the morning?

I will remind people the main reason we pay taxes is for essential services, fire, police, street maintenance, you get the picture, unfortunately city hall thinks we need to save money on these things while we bail out non-profit private movie theaters, pay the salaries of management for closed entertainment facilities and give massive tax rebates to developers.

I’m still surprised I didn’t see volunteer church groups out scooping side streets yesterday. Don’t laugh, we are getting to that point with Prophet Stoneless running this city.

Why the Highway 100 project is unnecessary

This is a Guest Post from an anonymous Sioux Falls resident;

With the COVID-19 situation changing and spreading rapidly, fighting this pandemic should be our number one priority. It’s hard to predict what tomorrow may bring but with Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna announcing positive results from their testing of the COVID-19 vaccine, this means we are one step closer to potentially providing people around the world with a much-needed breakthrough.

With that being said, why is this decades old project being pushed through by Noem and TenHaken at this time? With all of the outstanding road projects and infrastructure work needed to be done statewide, I wish the media would investigate and expose this for what it is. We need total transparency regarding this outdated and unnecessary project for all South Dakota citizens to be aware of.

If you go to www.openstreetmap.org and zoom in you can clearly see the path of the southern portion of this project.

“We are grateful to the Governor’s Office and the South Dakota Department of Transportation for making this critical investment in roadway infrastructure,” said Sioux Falls Mayor Paul TenHaken. “The southern expansion of Veterans Parkway has been discussed for decades and when completed, it will be transformational for our region. This multiyear expansion roadway expansion will not only improve traffic flow and better connect Sioux Falls neighboring communities but also spark significant economic development along with the project.”

The remaining 8.5 miles of Highway 100, with today’s cost indexed forward to 2023 dollars, is estimated at $208.9 million, of which the South Dakota Department of Transportation will fund the six-lane corridor that is estimated at $176 million. The City of Sioux Falls will fund the arterial streets that connect to the corridor, which is estimated at $32.9 million.

Economic Development

Would economic development be enhanced or hindered with this project? Highway 100 will not improve traffic flow or create any new connections to Sioux Falls neighboring communities. With the crossing of nine major street arteries with traffic lights, this project is not a bypass like I229. “A bypass is a road or highway that avoids or “bypasses” a built-up area, town, or village, to let through traffic flow without interference from local traffic, to reduce congestion in the built-up area, and to improve road safety”. The land set aside for this corridor has hampered growth in the Lincoln County area because developers have to continually work around the project path. One has to question the zoning by the city of Sioux Falls and Lincoln County for allowing new residential and commercial development to be built so close to the proposed project that was first planned over 25 years ago (1993).

Have adequate buffer zones been established at or adjoining commercial-residential district boundaries to mitigate potential frictions between uses or characteristics of use? Have district regulations been provided for transitional uses, yards, heights, off-street parking, lighting, signs, buffering, or screening? Trying to sell your home with a six-lane highway in your backyard could be a challenge as well as developing new neighborhoods that are adjacent to this highway.

The completed section from I90 to 57th street has traffic lights or stop signs at Rice street, East 10 street (Highway 42), 18th, 26th, 41st, and 57th. There are additional access points at Madison, Maple, 33rd, and others. Lincoln County already has excellent east/west through streets and corridors that connect to Highway 11 using 57th, 69th, 85th, and county 106. The existing north/south through streets include Louise, Minnesota (115), Cliff and of course Highway 11. There is also the Western, Southeastern, and Sycamore corridors which run south all the way to US Highway 18 and beyond. The 85th street interchange at I29 is planned to start in 2021.

This shortsighted plan needs to be abandoned with the rapid expansion of Sioux Falls, Harrisburg and Lincoln County. We need a plan for the next 50 years based off of the growth in the area in the previous 25 years. The 2020 Sioux Falls population is projected to reach 190,519 with the Sioux Falls Metro Area population at 275,917. By 2035, the population of Sioux Falls is projected to reach 233,000 with the Sioux Falls Metro Area population projected to reach 346,184.

Sioux Falls already has great connections to Tea, Harrisburg, Worthing, Lennox and Canton with our existing highways. The proposed route should be sold back to developers and a more cost-effective plan using county Highway 106 implemented as the east-west route from Highway 11 to I29. Highway 11 can be widened from 57th through Shindler to 106 because there is adequate room for expansion just as Highway 115 was recently widened from 85th to Highway 110. Any homeowner affected by this route could be compensated or bought out at current values. Thinking ahead using today’s construction costs, we could further enhance Highway 11 down to Highway 116 (additional 5 miles) which runs west to an overpass and exits on I29.

Spending Taxpayer Dollars Wisely

Money set aside for remaining 8.5 miles of the Highway 100 southern expansion ($208.9 million est.) would be better spent on improving the existing connections in Lincoln County. As an example: the reconstruction of 3.3 miles of Highway 115 (Minnesota Ave.) from just south of the 85th Street intersection to 0.3 miles south of the Lincoln County Highway 110 intersection was $18.3 million (18.3 million / 3.3 miles = 5.54 million per mile). If constructing a new 6-lane Interstate highway is about $7 million per mile in rural areas and about $11 million per mile in urban areas why is the southern portion of this project costing $24.5 million per mile (208.9 million / 8.5 miles = 24.5 million)? Also, what is the source of these funds and what is the breakdown from each source? A full disclosure needs to be made available for all South Dakota taxpayers before this project is started.

Planning Ahead

On June 29, 1956, President Dwight Eisenhower signed the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956 which enabled the I229 project to be built that was finished in 1962. If we had waited 27 years to start the I229 project it probably would not have been completed. The impact on transportation and economic development in the Sioux Falls area would have been substantial.

Wetland Mitigation

The SD DOT requires avoidance of all wetland impacts or, where avoidance is not practicable, minimization to the greatest extent practicable. Special emphasis is placed on avoiding impacts to high-quality wetlands including those wetlands with known or potential endangered species support functions.

When the objectives of a transportation project cannot be met without adverse impacts to wetlands, wetland mitigation involves the preparation of a wetland mitigation plan detailing how lost wetland functions will be compensated.

Subsequently, wetland mitigation plans must be submitted to one or more of the regulatory agencies for their review and approval prior to a permit being issued.

The existing streets, county roads and corridors from 57th street, south to US Highway 18 and west to I29 are already reserved for use by motorized vehicles. This relatively flat area can be developed with well thought out planning and zoning. The impact on current wetlands would be lessened because the existing right of ways are already in place.

Conclusion

Allowing outdated projects based on what a few legislators want which benefits consultants, politicians, and construction companies at the expense of current and future neighborhoods should not occur. The funds set aside for the southern portion of the Highway 100 project would be better spent on a long-range plan that is implemented in a timely manner for the City of Sioux Falls and Lincoln County. This boondoggle is nothing more than someone’s pet project which has nothing to do with honoring our veterans, improving traffic flow or better connecting Sioux Falls neighboring communities in Lincoln County.

*Editor’s Note; I would like to thank the DaCola reader for sending me this very informative piece.

Historic 8th Street Bridge almost complete

On a Sunday afternoon walk I saw that the deck on the bridge is complete and they started installing the parapet that are solid concrete.