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Sioux Falls City Council Agenda, Dec 10-11, 2019

City Council Informational • 4 PM • Tuesday, Dec 10

Update on Legislative Priorities for the 2019 session and a presentation on Walkability by Councilor Stehly (I’m not sure what her presentation is about). But I see they continue to peddle the perceived benefits of TIFs;

6. The Sioux Falls City Council supports tax increment financing (TIF), an economic development tool that has led to millions of dollars in increased property value, benefitting both the state as a whole and the local entities sponsoring the districts, while at the same time maintaining the integrity of the process.

I say ‘perceived’ because we have NEVER gotten evidence that it has benefitted us.

City Council Regular Meeting • 7 PM • Tuesday, Dec 10

MORE INFO COMING

Charter Revision Commission Meeting • 3:30 PM • Wednesday, Dec 11

The hammer continues to drop at the CRC. As you can see from this graphic, they have been very good at killing stuff;

Oh, but they are going to get something done, making it more difficult to do a petition drive when it comes to the changing the Charter;

The petitions shall contain or have attached thereto throughout their circulation the full text of the proposed charter amendment and must be signed by registered voters of the city in the number of at least 5 percent of the total number of registered voters at the last regular city election, (change) or the number of signatures required by state law, whichever is greater.

When I talked to fellow city government nerd about this the other day, they said ‘If it gets on the ballot, we will make sure it doesn’t pass.’ The irony of it would be the mantra of the CRC and saying they don’t like to put stuff on the ballot because people just vote ‘YES’ on it without researching it. I will guaran-F’ing-tee you that if they put this on the ballot, we will make sure the public is VERY informed about what they are trying to do and it will be fun to watch the ONLY thing they approve for the ballot fails, or at least we hope it fails.

I also find this discussion curious;

Clarification of Duties of the Charter Revision Commission on its Webpage

Huh? This is what is listed on the city website;

The commission may deliver a report to the city election authorities framing and proposing amendments to the Sioux Falls Home Rule Charter. The commission holds at least one public meeting each calendar year for the purpose of receiving recommendations from the public regarding revisions to the charter and to take action upon any matters before the commission relating to proposed charter revisions.

It will be interesting to hear what changes they want to make.

Sioux Falls City Councilor Pat Starr Inside Town Hall

UPDATE: JazzFest Killed

UPDATE: The story going around is that JF lost significant money this past year, which doesn’t surprise me. Having to pay for generators, bad weather damaging stuff, no major acts and having the headliner cancel probably did it in. I’ve even heard they are so broke from it that they may have to hand over the concert series they hold at the Orpheum to the Pavilion management, but we will have to see what happens. I think they ‘could’ bring it back in 2021 but would still need to do something like a small Saturday night concert this summer and bill it as a ‘mini’ JF just to keep it relevant. But with the money situation, I’m not sure if that is even possible.

I also have heard that people are blaming Mayor TenHaken because of the proposed ordinance to charge for police assistance. I guess he has been on the horn with certain people mad about the blame game. I won’t defend PTH on much, but it really isn’t his fault. Sure the proposal is stupid and ridiculous, but the city council hasn’t ironed out the details yet and may vote it down anyway IF it is even brought forward. So while the ordinance proposal is moronic, it hasn’t happened yet. I was actually surprised he was so annoyed with it, I would just blow it off.

As you have heard in the news, JazzFest has ended (but will consider doing it in 2021). I think once you go there, you can never recover.

It saddens me for several reasons, I assisted with JF for several years in different roles with graphic design work, helping to design the logo two years, and designing countless other items for them. It was always a tradition for me, for at least 20 years. I will miss it.

Some think it may have to do with the city council considering charging for police assistance, but I think it really has to do with all the problems from this past festival and low attendance, and former director Rob Joyce leaving. It of course has never been the same since Janoct Adja died 🙂 We may never know. I think that this city has been going towards more ‘family friendly’ festivals lately (not that JF wasn’t) and it is just hard to put on these kind of large events anymore.

I actually think the city council has the votes to either kill the police ordinance, or at least reduce the proposed fee of $70 an hour per officer significantly. I would like for them to pass an ordinance that only charges ‘For-Profit’ events for police assistance and leave the non-profit’s exempt.

As we know these events bring in huge economic impact that can cover the police costs, it is just a matter of the city budgeting for it and paying the officers for these duties. Which is easily done instead of continuing to screw the police union.

Isn’t ironic that our mayor was in DC yesterday bragging about how he doesn’t want to burden the FOR-PROFIT telecoms (who make billions a year) with high fees for 5G poles then turns around and depends on volunteers to clean up after tornados, doesn’t plow our streets and now wants to charge for police assistance (even though they have plenty of money in the budget for it). This administration’s priorities are messed up, and you will see that when the $21.5 million dollar TIF for a private developer gets passed with NO evidence or studies proving TIFs provide economic impact to our city. The arts and other non-profit events in Sioux Falls have already had numerous studies showing their impact, but who has time to read that stuff? For TIFs and telecom handouts we’ll just take your word.

Metro 911 meeting this morning

According to councilor Stehly on FB and local media;

Happening Now: Metro 911 wants $9-11 Million for a new facility vs $6-8 Million to remodel. Unfortunately,the meeting was not recorded.

She also told me that she was chastised at the meeting by another city councilor for posting that information on FB. This was a public meeting, so I’m not sure why that was an issue? Oh, because without the media there they can try to keep people in the dark. I’m not sure why our public officials like secrecy so much. I have often argued that if you keep the public informed from the beginning they can never come back and say ‘You never told us about this.’ That is why the Bunker Ramp has been such a disaster, too many behind closed door deals.

Well looky there, a quorum of leaders in a public building, wouldn’t that be considered a ‘public meeting’?

Councilor Stehly gets it done without even voting

As I have mentioned in the past, Councilor Stehly has gotten a lot of things done without the votes, but by just simply putting on pressure.

She did it again this afternoon at the Audit Committee Meeting.

She asked for several things from the podium during the 2020 Audit Plan presentation;

• An external audit of the Parking System (Theresa mentioned that she found it odd that the city wants to keep building or subsidizing parking ramps downtown yet wants to sell off flat parking lots).

• An audit of the CMAR (Construction Manager at Risk) process.

• Travel expenses of city staff (I guess that during the current administration, city directors and staff, and mostly the mayor, have been taking a lot of ‘junket trips’ but not really giving a report to the public as what they are doing on the trips. Recently TenHaken put up a short column about his trip to China, but never really told us what was really discussed. We also get a lot of updates on FB from the Innovation Manger and all the different cities he has been drinking in.

• A study of City Director salaries in comparison to other cities. Something I pointed out the last time the HR department did a wage study, but did NOT include city directors. How convenient.

The committee argued the merits of all the items. Councilor Brekke mentioned that maybe the city council budget analyst could look into the last two items and do a presentation on those findings – which I agree.

Audit Manager Nelson suggested that the CMAR audit would have to be done externally due to it’s speciality of the audit.

But they got into a long discussion about the external parking ramp audit. Councilor Kiley said he didn’t want to put it on the audit plan because they are in the middle of litigation, but other members argued that there was nothing wrong with putting it on the agenda, and if they have to pull it in the future, they can. The amendment to add it passed with Kiley and Chair Neitzert voting against it. Councilor Stehly doesn’t sit on the committee so she couldn’t vote on it.

T.J. TypeOver said they won’t audit it until it is done;

T.J. Nelson, deputy chief of staff in the mayor’s office, said City Hall isn’t opposed to a review of the parking system or the ramp, but not until the ramp project is complete and the dust settles on any lawsuits surrounding it.

“The administration will complete a comprehensive review of the process that led to the prior approval of this project by the Huether administration. This will take place following the ramp’s completion and resolution of any outstanding legal matters,” he said. “At this time, the administration supports a financial or construction audit consistent with the time frame outlined above.”

Yeah, after we have f’d up in every possible way we can, then we will tell the public how that f’k up occurred. WHAT!? Wouldn’t it be wise to figure that out BEFORE we move ahead with another developer or even litigation? Wouldn’t this help our case? Sometimes I wonder if putting money in a burn barrel would be a better way to spend money then paying city communication staff.

There was also a presentation on the Landfill Audit. There was a lot of problems going on out there where basically employees were not following procedures and not doing proper inspections. You can listen for yourself. My view is the city is missing out on a lot of landfill revenue due to the laziness of the employees. I think they were warned about these things in past audits. I think it is time to start handing our pink slips, then maybe they will get the picture.

Chair Neitzert mentions at the end they are going to start the process of hiring another staff auditor (which they do need). I wonder if this time they will actually put an employment ad in something besides Tidbits and the City Hall’s lunchroom?

PUBLIC TRANSIT MEETING

I still haven’t heard all the details of what happened, but I guess a committee member got a little irate about how the public is being left out of the decisions they are making. More to come.

Sioux Falls City Council Agenda, Dec 2-4, 2019

Audit Committee Meeting • 4 PM • Monday, Dec 2

They are planning to play a little catchup by planning on doing 12 audits in 2020. Two audits are follow-ups and four are carry-overs.

External Audit Discussion

Landfill Licensing Audit

City Council Informational • 4 PM • Tuesday, Dec 3

Events Center Campus Study Report

Presentation on the transit situation. I have not got an update on what happened at the meeting on Monday, but I hear they have been having troubles getting a contract with a technology contractor.

City Council Regular Meeting • 7 PM • Tuesday, Dec 3

Item #7, Approval of Contracts, another $700K to Pavilion. This place is constantly bleeding money. I heard recently one of the main reasons they have been able to break attendance records is because they would put on a frequent FREE event at the arts center. Imagine that, letting people in for FREE would increase attendance. Who knew? Maybe they should try that – wait.

Item #29, Deferred license for C-Store by Dudley House. I’m not sure how this will go. You know my feelings, we should not have allowed the shelter to be built at that location.

Item #36, Williquors is applying for a a delivery license. I wonder if other liquor stores have this? For instance, when you order grocery delivery from Hy-Vee can you get a bottle to?

Items #45-47, 2nd Reading, Ordinance. This is the Railyard Flats purchase. I find it interesting that the name of the developer and the project has been left off the agenda description. Why?!

Item #50, 1st Reading, Ordinance. Here we go, the first of a series of bonds for the water reclamation plant upgrades. Isn’t it fun watching the city borrow millions of dollars, it gives me kind of a tingly warm feeling inside. NOT!

Item #51, 1st Reading, Ordinance. Here we go with farting around with our old skool system of liquor licensing. Even with a reduced price, it really still leaves no room for family businesses to compete. It think the city should take a more proactive approach and lobby the legislature to change the system, and the Lincoln and Minnehaha County Commissions should jump on board to.

Item #57, City will approve a preliminary plan for Sanford Sports Complex expansion. I wonder if they want to put up any more nets?

Item #58, Annexation agreement. I find it a little ironic that the city would choose to make this the last agenda item on a very long meeting. Remember when they wanted to shove public input to the end of the meetings because ‘business’ needed to be taken care of with ‘business’ first? Funny how these things work.

Planning Commission Meeting • 6 PM • Wednesday, Dec 4

Item #5-A, Planning commission is recommending denial. Not sure what is going on.

A few reasons why communities are fighting 5G

Here is a great article from August in the WSJ explaining why cities are fighting 5G;

But since then, the FCC has rolled out its 5G Fast plan requiring cities and states to approve new 5G antennas within 60 or 90 days. It also limits what government leaders can charge carriers for the real estate on which the new infrastructure will hang—be it a utility pole, streetlight or even building facade.

This was one of many arguments I had against 5G. Local government entities should have the right to charge a reasonable amount. The telecoms are going to make billions from the technology. Why shouldn’t the taxpayers who own the poles get a piece of that pie?

City leaders say their power to zone and regulate infrastructure is being abridged. More than 90 cities and counties have joined together in a lawsuit, currently before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, arguing that the FCC has overstepped its authority. A decision could happen as early as in the spring, but it could also take much longer.

Here was another concern. How can we allow a private industry to tell us where and how they are going to install their technology. Heck, in Sioux Falls, you even have to have a permit to ‘place’ a tool shed in your yard. And the telecoms will be spending millions to fight this – they could possibly drag this out so long that we will have 10G by the time it gets resolved.

This sort of thing could happen in other cities, despite FCC rules that say permits are automatically approved after 60 or 90 days, says Mr. Liccardo. “There are lots of ways for local bureaucracies to make it difficult even when the federal government says they must,” he adds.

Blair Levin, a fellow at the Brookings Institution and a former chief of staff for FCC chairman Reed Hundt, said, “What the wireless guys are asking is for cities to treat them totally different than every other entity asking for construction permits. I think it will backfire because, in the fullness of time, instead of a cooperative relationship you’ll get a hostile relationship.”

I don’t think we will have a ‘hostile relationship’ because I think most people want this – even though most don’t even know how it works. My issue is with how this got approved and the overreach of the Federal Government. But what is even sadder is that those who are supposed to be representing us, the Mayor, City attorney’s office and City Council rolled over like old dogs, and the mayor was out cheerleading the effort while his head was up Ironic Johnny Thune-Bag’s ass. I wonder if there was any room for the pom-poms?

VILE comments about Councilor Stehly on FB

During the joint Minnehaha County/Sioux Falls City Council Meeting yesterday, Councilor Stehly suggested that we need more mobile home parks in Sioux Falls. I have heard Stehly talk about this in the past. What she is essentially saying is we need to promote more affordable housing solutions for people in Sioux Falls. Whether that is mobile homes, tiny homes, smaller manufactured homes, etc. A new, modest family home in Sioux Falls will run you well over $250K. Other affordable pre-owned housing will run you around $150K, but those houses are few and far between in Sioux Falls. One reason is we allow the major developers and hospitals run the planning department. They admitted to it when I attended the Citizen Planning Academy a few years ago when an attendee asked why Sanford Hospital is allowed to tear up these affordable neighborhoods, the answer was it came down to ‘money’. They have a lot of it, so they get to do what they want to. Many people are being ‘priced out’ of housing in Sioux Falls, and all Stehly was asking for is options.

That didn’t stop this frequent commenter and A-Rod on Pitty Patt’s blog to comment on FB that suggesting more mobile homes or other affordable housing is ‘Stupid’. I just want to tell ‘Troy’ that the only thing that is ‘stupid’ is the greed of people like him. I can tell you why contractors are not building affordable housing in Sioux Falls – there’s no excessive profit in it.

Speaking of ‘Dead Jensen’ (My new nickname for him) his all knowing treasurer, Paulson, sent out this fundraising email the other day;

Good afternoon –

Over the last couple of years, I’ve become increasingly interested in local political issues. Your local city and county governments have a significantly higher influence on your day-to-day life than your state or federal government. They maintain infrastructure, build public amenities such as parks and bike trails and foster future economic development. Because of the role local government plays in our lives, I think it’s incredibly important to have a solid mayor, city council and county commissioners. 

This election cycle, I am backing candidates in Sioux Falls that will support future growth in the city, work collaboratively with stakeholders across government and private industry and put the best interests of the community first. Specifically, I have agreed to serve as the campaign treasurer for Alex Jensen who is running for the At Large position (currently held by Theresa Stehly) in next Spring’s city council election.

Alex is one of the most positive, sharp and community-minded people I know and he will be a fantastic addition to the city council. He and his wife Nikki just welcomed a son (Jack) into the world. Alex works as a business banker for First Premier and has volunteered with the YMCA, Junior Achievement, the Home Builders Association of the Sioux Empire and Faith Lutheran Church. He previously served in the state legislature where he voted to increase teacher pay, provide property tax relief and implement a new roads and infrastructure plan. 

There aren’t many politicians I get excited about, but Alex is one of the good ones. Alex hopes to reach every voter in Sioux Falls with his “positive and proven” message. I plan to give my all over the next five months to help get him elected and hope that you will consider helping too. 

Thank you for your consideration. 

Matthew Paulson

I think it will be funny if ‘Dead Jensen’ raises and spends $100K+ and Stehly decides NOT to run. It will show that apparently it costs $100K in Sioux Falls to just get on the city council without a competitor.

Sioux Falls City Council Agenda • Nov 26, 2019

Informational Meeting • 4 PM

Alcohol Licensing Changes by Councilor Christine M. Erickson

LINK TO PRESENTATION

Joint Minnehaha County Meeting • 5 PM

Presentation on Housing Advisory Board Brief and Review of the Augustana Research Institute Study – Marshall Selberg, Suzie Smith, and Chellee Unruh

LINK TO STUDY

Monday Transit Meeting

Liquor Licensing needs a full overhaul in our state

While I understand the concern and the intentions of Sioux Falls City Councilors Erickson and Selberg, I think instead the legislature needs to overhaul the entire system;

“It’s just created this crazy investment for some that have seen incredible return on it, and it’s not supposed to be that way,” Erickson said.

I agree that to often developers and business owners have been using the current licensing system as an investment with big returns instead of actually using it for it’s intended purchase. I agree with this line in the proposal;

“Use it or lose it!” Once offered the license, the individual or corporation must purchase the license. If unable to purchase, they will no longer be able to remain on the list.

And while that will be a good fix in the short term, in the long term I have suggested a better solution, giving out yearly licenses like we do for beer and wine, something other states have done for years. In Nebraska they do yearly licenses. For example, you can either buy a beer and wine license for the year or a full alcohol license for the year. That price tag would also depend on the population of the city. For example in Sioux Falls it could be $10,000 a year but in Dell Rapids it could be $1,000 per year or less.

Some ask ‘what about those with licenses already?’ You would give them a ‘credit’ on the license that they could use against the yearly fee, that price would be based on the current value of a new license. So let’s say it is worth $200K, that means you could avoid the licensing fee of $10K for 20 years. But you could not transfer that credit to another bar or another owner. Once you sell or close, the grandfathered credit would end. I would also suggest a limit like our current system, but it would be way more competitive because new licenses could become available yearly because of businesses closing or not renewing their licenses. This also helps the business owner who may go out of business, decide to close on their own or just say after a year, they really don’t see the value in having the license. This way they are not ‘stuck’ with something they need to sell on the open market. It also makes the bar and restaurant business more competitive so that people that don’t have the means to compete now with the current system can with the new system. It evens the playing field. And with more competition, it gives consumers a better value. I also see it as a better revenue stream for the city on two fronts. You are collecting yearly licensing fees and probably collecting more taxes from alcohol sales, which in turn could be shared more fairly with the counties. This is a far better approach then just changing a few rules in our city.