Entries Tagged 'Public Works' ↓

UPDATE: Project TRIM pilot program proves that the city can affordably trim city owned trees

UPDATE: I wanted to add that the Denny Sanford Premier Center probably costs taxpayers about $6 million a year (after sponsorships, profits, sales and sales tax revenue offset) that comes to $31.58 per year, per resident. Ironically, not everyone attends the EC and on top of that, you still have to buy a ticket to go there. I would say, Project TRIM at no cost would be a lot more bang for our buck.

I was surprised that the number was so low. $58 per property. If you are in violation in it’s current form, the city could charge you $150-$300 to trim THEIR trees, even though in reality we pay frontage fees/taxes to take care of these things. As Stehly points out in the meeting, it could be even lower if we contract the work with private contractors (creating local jobs) or using inmate labor.

I would also like to point out that these costs will get lower each year because the city will be doing this on a regular basis and keep it managed. I also think the price tag is a pittance for the trimming, $688K per year, compared to other expenditures in our city. That comes to about $3.62 per resident, per year. Half the price of a value meal at Mickey D’s. We can afford this.

Snowplow Cowboy?

A citizen has been telling me for awhile that a private contractor contracted for city snow removal that lives in their neighborhood is using a city contracted motor grader blade and snowgate to clear his personal driveway and the driveways of two of his friends in his neighborhood (as I understand it, one of his friends is a SFPO)*.

This occurred Monday, January 13th (when BTW, there was NO Snow Alert) between 5 and 6 a.m.  This citizen called to make the Street Department aware of this.  They were told a supervisor would address it.

OBVIOUSLY NOT, because he and a second motor grader were back in the neighborhood last evening (01-17-2020) clearing the same three driveways. 

Yesterday, the City issued a Snow Alert and notified the public that they would BEGIN to plow Zone 3 the morning of Saturday, January 18, 2020.

While some would say ‘this is a nice gesture’ I would likely agree, if it was a private contractor, but these maintainers are contracted by the city and outfitted with our tax dollars. In other words, a big no-no. What if some property got damaged while providing this ‘service’ or worse someone got hurt? Who would be responsible than?

*Who says POs in Sioux Falls don’t get fringe benefits? Free meals at the hospitals and now city funded snow removal of personal property.

City of Sioux Falls Internal Audit department makes my case for public garbage service

If you FF to about 37:00 in the above video, you will hear an interesting discussion about the Landfill audit.

I have argued for a long time that a public garbage service would save taxpayers millions of dollars a year. I have also suggested, like plowing the city streets, the city should contract those services with the major haulers that already exist in our city. Many have argued that would kill competition and would cost more.

Horse Puckey.

1) We would save on fuel costs because the haulers would be assigned certain neighborhoods and could pick up everyone’s garbage on the street at the same time

2) There would be savings in administering the billing process, it could be attached to our water/sewer bill

3) We would save money on wear and tear to our streets

4) It would help with recycling which would reduce landfill costs

5) There would be no complicated tipping fee structure with the contracted haulers, which would make landfill workers jobs less complicated

The data the internal auditor provided proves to me that the only haulers that would be put out of business are the ones that are not doing much anyway. According to their data there is 27 licensed haulers in Sioux Falls. The 4 largest put up to 72% of the waste in the landfill. The remaining haulers account for 28% of the waste which means on average each of those haulers brings in about 1.2% of the waste individually.

If the current system was really providing ‘competition’ why are 23 haulers not doing much business?

The other irony is that of the 4 major haulers, 2 of them are under similar ownership and just have different names. It’s kind of like all the odd ball tree trimming service providers in town that are owned by a handful of people.

Folks, this supposed competition you talk about doesn’t exist. Stop kidding yourself. It is time the city contracts with up to 6 different haulers, divide up the city, and start a public garbage service. Don’t take my word for it, just ask our internal auditor, I think their data makes a great case for it.

Why is the City of Sioux Falls seeking bids for private property upgrades?

To tell you the truth, I couldn’t answer this question, I post this out of curiosity;

The City of Sioux Falls, SD, requests formal bids for Minnehaha Country Club and The Country Club of Sioux Falls Pond Improvements.

Now I know the city has helped with retention and detention ponds in the past on private property, but I’m NOT sure how the costs are worked out with the property owners. I’m really kind of clueless how that works. But I find it interesting that the city would be using decorative course ponds as detention ponds. I guess you are killing two birds with one stone. But also remember, these are private recreational clubs who benefit from having those ponds. It reminds me of the massive levees we built with Federal and local tax dollars conveniently along the country clubs.

Hopefully someone from the city will explain how this all works.

It’s back to the well and is the well is drying up?

Guest Post by Bruce Danielson

Here we go again, let’s build up hysteria and then spend millions of dollars under the table, over the table and in closed back rooms but claim transparency. It’s now 2019 and let’s remember and discover what’s new in the city of Sioux Falls. We see the same things in every project of dubious or questionable value to the town.

Let’s review a few:

The City Center Administration Building had to be built because a planning department employee claimed he had pee running down his City Hall basement office wall.

An indoor swimming pool our town could not live without so it was built on land loaned to the City of Sioux Falls and could be repossessed by the real land owner, the Federal government at any time (and probably will once the VA expands some more).

An event center designed to suck every bit of money out of the community to the benefit of the construction and the out of town management companies. Then to top it all off, put it in a location guaranteed to NOT help the struggling locally owned businesses of Sioux Falls.

The different emergency for sewer and water infrastructure bonding of over $300 million dollars to benefit a set of special developers and to hide the disastrous City Center HVAC system mistakes.

The parking ramp that had to be built, even if it does bleed the Parking Enterprise fund down to nothing keeping us from having properly maintained streets to drive to the parking spots. To do this we saw illegal asbestos removal, a building collapsed, a man die, and a developer defaulting, what a trifecta all in the name of ___________ (you fill in the blank). Now we have to spend $1.5 million of 2nd penny infrastructure money to protect the building that should have never been built. WE have to protect our investment but whose head will roll because of this? By the way, where is the Parking Director Matt Nelson these days?

Now have you seen the strange looking new machine being hauled around town lately? (At the top of the page)

This recent Vermeer Grinder – Shredder purchase for $964,270 by the city is for use in grinding trees at the landfill and around Sioux Falls. Do you know what is wrong about this purchase? Sioux Falls has an agreement to have a private business do this for FREE. Hidden in plain sight (if you can find the Consent Agenda of the July 5th, 2019 Council meeting) is contract 19-4165. Our administration spent almost $1 million dollars of 2nd penny without any discussion. Not only do we take away money from the pothole budget, but we take work away from a private business who was doing the city’s shredding to undercut the limited market the business has developed.

Once again, a city of Sioux Falls administration, pretending to be legitimate, upstanding, honest, trustworthy (is it an “and” or an “or”) TRANSPARENT is screwing all of us and trying to hide the evidence.

It’s 2nd penny be damned, full steam ahead on bonding everything. Get ready for the next bonding project(s) that never were bonded before. This is to keep the bonding companies and their supporters happy. You even see it in the Charter Revision Commission this year. Now consider the new Southeast fire station, street projects (remember the 2nd penny was created so streets would NEVER be bonded), the new training center and more are going to be in the next go round of bonding coming to a city council near you. So say good bye to getting your potholes repaired. Expect to see your locally owned employer or your privately owned business going down with city hall’s wall pee as more of the city’s limited funds are taken over by the bonding companies, all for another edifice coming to you.

Did anyone observe the Painted Snow Plows on Saturday?

I had a family event yesterday and totally forgot to go to the ‘Paint the Plows’ event at the Mall parking lot. I did go over to the public garage today and saw a few of them parked by the fence.

If anyone attended, could you send me picts?

These were the schools that participated, 6 of them were private Christian Religious schools;

Anne Sullivan Elementary
Christ the King Elementary
Cleveland Elementary
Discovery Elementary
Edison Middle School
Eugene Field A+ Elementary
Fred Assam Elementary
Frontier Elementary
Good Shepherd Lutheran School
Laura B. Anderson Elementary
Lifescapes
Lutheran High School
McCrossan Boys Ranch
O’Gorman High School
Oscar Howe Elementary
R. F. Pettigrew Elementary
Roosevelt High School
Sioux Falls Lutheran School
St. Michael Elementary

The Big Reveal is coming

I guess we will find out next weekend how many Jesus plows will be cleaning our streets this winter.

Could we see a lot more Jesus snowplows this winter?

A SouthDaCola foot soldier tipped me off recently that they saw several snowplow blades parked in different Church parking lots throughout the city. Normally the blades are painted by public school kids and some private Christian schools. Not sure if the blades are parked at the churches for this reason, but it will be interesting to see how many Christian themed snowplows we see this year.

I wonder if mayor Paul will ask volunteers to plow the streets this winter?

City of Sioux Falls to present their pilot idea for on-demand transit on Tuesday

You will see how the city plans to implement a pilot program for on-demand transit. As I have posted about recently, while the people using the on-demand service love it, it really isn’t equitable and doesn’t help more people. A total overhaul of Paratransit and regular bus routes would be where I would start instead of on-demand.

The presentation compares it to On-Demand movies and is you look at their scenarios you will see the cost goes up (at least that is how interpret it). I guess I will wait to see the presentation to fill in the blanks.

Is Microtransit the solution to fixing our public transit in Sioux Falls?

If you have done any research into the topic, the short answer would be a resounding ‘NO’.

But before we get to that, I have been saying well before PTH and the innovation crew rolled into city hall that the first priority to fixing public transit is fixing the gorilla in the room, Paratransit. The city must find a way to make it more affordable and nimble. I certainly DO NOT have all the answers on how to do that, but a few things I think we could ‘look at’ are 1) coordinate the ride shares better 2) have an advanced dispatch system the drivers can use 3) use smaller vehicles (like vans) 4) try to contract some the transports to private companies 5) have the mega-hospital systems become bigger partners in transporting patients to appointments.

I have no doubt we NEED paratransit. Keeping disabled people active and in the workforce is good for the economy and I’m sure in there somewhere the numbers add up to show that eliminating the public service would be detrimental to our community, but I do think it can be more affordable and reliable.

So let’s move onto this idea of microtransit. It’s been tried in cities across the country, and has had very little success. Don’t get me wrong, the people who use it, love it, but in the bigger picture of transit, while it makes a handful of riders very happy, it really doesn’t help the larger percentage as a whole, and, it is expensive.

There are several articles out there about it’s failures, but this one, written by a transit consultant really lays out the issues with microtransit;

In this reality, should transit agencies really focus on ways to move tiny numbers of people more expensively, to deliver them a special “customer experience”, as the microtransit idea proposes? Clearly that’s not the path to ridership.

We know how to increase ridership. It’s by offering useful, civilized, and cost-effective mobility to large numbers of people, not obsessing about the customer experience of a few. And while ridership is not the only goal of transit, it’s hard to get to microtransit from any of transit’s other common goals either.

While I encourage you to read the entire, extensive article that goes into great detail about labor costs, etc., the bigger point of the article is that cities, including Sioux Falls, who have public transit issues should concentrate on helping the masses first and making it more affordable.

I really think the city’s innovation department is missing the boat by going straight for the jugular on the microtransit idea. As I already mentioned above, Paratransit needs to be fixed first, than we can move onto regular transit, which I think the city should experiment with a grid system.

While I consider myself a progressive open to NEW ideas from YOUNG minds, I also know enough to look at what has worked and what has not. Read the multiple articles on microtransit – while it keeps a handful of people happy, it does nothing for the greater good of all the riders and makes it less affordable while costing the taxpayers more. The innovation department needs to bail on this idea before moving forward.