Entries Tagged 'SF City Council' ↓

UPDATE III: Your Dream Home Awaits in Southwest Brandon

UPDATE III: I wanted to make a correction to some of the things being said about how the homeowners will be paying back the TIF. While I have surmised from Mr. Powers testimony last night that the repayment would go back to the developer, SF Simplified was told this from the city’s planning office;

The $2.14 million would help with the costs of getting the site ready for homes, designing, etc., and it’d be paid back to the city over the next 20 years via property taxes.

Which makes more sense since the city is footing the bill for the infrastructure, but it still puts into question what was said at the meeting last night.

Does the developer take on the $2 million in debt or the City? Is it a 15 or 20 year TIF? I’m not sure who is in charge of talking points for this project, but it gets more confusing by the day.

A city official told me today that the payback to the TIF will actually go to the bank who is giving the loan for the development, which makes sense. Oh, and guess who that bank is 🙁

UPDATE II: Finally! At the planning commission meeting tonight, commissioner Larry Luetke asks how the TIF works when it comes to the eventual purchaser. Planning staffer, Dustin Powers explained that as people purchase the homes they will have to pay their FULL property taxes then the county will pay part of those tax funds back to the developer until they hit the $2 million amount. In other words the developer is paying the full cost of the development and the homeowners will be paying back the developer thru their taxes over the next 15 years. So essentially, like Starr said last night, this is just a $2 million dollar break on the development itself, for the developer, and gives the eventual homeowner NO tax savings.

On top of that, there are NO guarantees the pricing will come in where they would like them to. The developer has already warned those prices could fluctuate (in other words go up) and there is no contractual agreement to keep the price where promised. Good for the developer, not so good for the homeowner.

*on a separate note, one of the newer commissioners called roads in a development ‘artillery roads’ instead of ‘arterial roads’. I’m not sure what an artillery road is, but if you drive around some central neighborhoods you can certainly see some streets that look like they got hit by artillery.

UPDATE: Tonight at the city council informational meeting they did a presentation on the TIF and it’s hard not to come to the conclusion that developer, not the future homeowner is benefitting from the TIF. Councilor Starr said it best when he suggested that maybe the city should just pay for the $2 million in TIF expenses (infrastructure) out of the general fund and not mess around with the TIF.

Either way, the half ass promise made from the administration, planning and the council before the last election is we were going to target affordable housing in our core, building density while cleaning up our central neighborhoods. Instead we got a ham and cheese sandwich made from Spam and Velveeta.

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The Sioux Falls Planning Commission will be mulling over TIF #26 (Items 5C & D) this next Wednesday. As you can see from the drawings below these are pretty tiny houses. I was also surprised by the floor plan in which the bedrooms were not placed next to each other with one bedroom next to the front entry.

What is curious is there is NO mention in the agenda documents about who will be getting the 15 year tax break. The developer or the new homeowner? There is also the infamous recommendation from un-elected paid planning staff;

Both staff and the development team believe this amount of TIF support is appropriate and adequate for the project to move forward, and that without TIF in this amount, this project as presented would be unable to move forward.

The classic ‘We can’t do this without the TIF.’ But again, I ask, who will be getting the tax break? How do you give a 15 year tax break to a developer who will be selling the homes? Will the new owners be getting a 15 year tax break? I’m puzzled how this will work. It appears to me that the developer will be getting a $2 million dollar tax break up front and the new homeowner will have to pay the normal taxes.

Hopefully we will hear an explanation at the meeting.

*You will also notice that the planning agenda is NOT using the annotated agenda like the city council is using now. Not sure why transparency is so hard for these folks?

Falls Area Bicyclists rock the City Council Meeting

I enjoyed watching the city council meeting last night (FF: 44:30) when members of FAB showed up to promote bicycling and safety. While I agree with most said, especially when it comes to more bike lanes, etc. I have felt for awhile that there needs to be more bicycle safety training and awareness by the city.

I have been commuting on the roads and bike trail ever since I moved here in 1991. You have to learn how to be a defensive rider. As a car centric community it is hard to change the mentality of drivers when they rule the roost. We also need to build new roads more accommodating to bikes and pedestrians. I think we missed an opportunity on North Minnesota Ave recently when building the medium in the center. We could have easily made that a bike lane. I have seen it in other cities and it works pretty good.

Sioux Falls City Councilors Starr & Barranco reject the need for a property tax increase

During the City Council meeting last night (FF 1:25:00) Pat and David spoke out against the increase siting inflation hurting citizens;

“. . . we have families struggling with high inflation and I am NOT comfortable with a property tax increase,” David Barranco.

“We sit and talk about putting the city in good financial shape and it really doesn’t take that much from the citizens, it’s only a couple of bucks here, and it’s a Coke or a cup of coffee, but if look at the chart director Pritchett presented were talking about 11 to 12 million dollars over the next 10 years that the city will be ‘SHORT’. NO, it’s the taxpayers that will be short of this money,” Pat Starr.

Their colleagues on dais SAID nothing while voting to move to 2nd reading. Starr and Barranco voted NO.

Butt Hurt Rich Folks leading opposition to Packing Plant

I often wonder where these folks are to help close the manure factory stinking up the city everyday in this town? After having Covid a couple of years ago my sense of smell has been really bad. I told someone the other day there are only 3 things I can really smell; Smithfields, Burger King and Cigarettes.

READ THE CAMPAIGN FINANCE REPORT: SMART GROWTH SIOUX FALLS.

Mr. Sneve beat me to the punch on the funding story;

In a campaign finance filing submitted to the City Clerk’s Office ahead of Tuesday’s 5 p.m. deadline, Smart Growth Sioux Falls reported more than $93,000 in campaign contributions since its formation earlier this year.

The report confirms prior news reports that a major backer of the opposition to Wholestone Farms LLC’s plan to construct a $600 million pork processing plant in the northeast corner of Sioux Falls is Jeff Broin, the founder, CEO and chairman of POET, a leading producer of ethanol and biofuels headquartered in Sioux Falls.

Sioux Falls Attorney Brendan Johnson asked the council tonight to have a moratorium on the butcher shop until after the election;

In response, Smart Growth Sioux Falls attorney Brendan Johnson Tuesday evening urged Mayor Paul TenHaken and the Sioux Falls City Council during their weekly meeting to take preemptive action.

“It is your responsibility to press pause and let voters decide this issue,” Johnson said. “That means you need to shut down this transparent attempt to side-step the election. My request is simple: press pause—issue a moratorium for two months.”

I will say it again, we approved Shape Places a few years ago and shot ourselves in the foot when it comes to allowing the council to approve conditional use permits. We rolled over like a dog for the developers who run our city and left no options for our local leaders to stop something like this.

I hate to say it, but Shape Places is really a Sh!t Storm.

Mayor TenHaken is proposing full time art person

This story has been circulating for awhile and there has been some pushback from councilors. This is the best explanation of what the position would be;

The position, as recommended by the arts task force, is a professional arts administrator. It is not a clerical position. The city would seek someone who understands nonprofit management and finances, facility needs and management, public art preservation and maintenance.  They would also be able to increase funding from outside sources through grants from private foundations and the state and federal government. Sioux Falls is ready and in need of this kind of leadership.

While I clearly understand WHY they may think they need this position, this argument isn’t exactly convincing;

As in all industries, there are politics internally that sometimes prevent partnerships or collaborations. Cultural groups are no different.  This is one of the reasons why a city position is much more effective and efficient than jobbing this out to another arts group.  As Jeff Eckoff said, without great expense, the city can convene and develop policies that promote and encourage collaborations and give attention to the creative sector including individuals and smaller organizations.  Nonprofit arts organization are businesses focused on staying solvent through a sale of a product. They are not service organizations concerned with the values of government such as transparency, equity, effectiveness and efficiency.  They are also not accountable to taxpayers and all citizens. Based on the task force’s work, there is great need for leadership from the city to bring about cohesiveness and collaboration.

I would agree the city does need consultation, but would argue using an outside consultant would be much more cost effective then a permanent position and with the track record the city has on transparency I worry having an internal arts consultant would actually hamper the work arts organizations are doing in our community. Just look at the contracts we have with the Pavilion and the Denty. The city doesn’t have internal employees telling them what to do, and we shouldn’t. We rely on their expertise to run these facilities without undue influence from the administration.

I do support a long term city arts plan, but this cannot be done with another bureaucrat on the city’s pay roll it has to be done with private consultation from experts in the field and would suggest a study would be a better investment.

As someone who used to be extensively involved with the arts community I can tell you much more is being accomplished by the private sector and we need to keep government out of our studios.

*While there is absolutely NOTHING on the agenda explaining adding this position, it falls under Item #60 which is the 2023 city budget resolution. I also suspect that ‘someone’ is angling for this job, I will leave it at that.

City of Sioux Falls calls property tax increase ‘inflationary adjustment’

You gotta love our new found transparency with the annotated agenda and this explanation for a property tax increase (Item #59);

Background & Objective: The ordinance appropriates the tax-supported funds as part of the 2023 budget in the amount of $384,337,184 and establishes property tax revenues to be collected including the 3% inflationary adjustment as provided in South Dakota State Statute.

Even though it says right in the title of the agenda ‘INCREASE’ they explain it as an adjustment.

With inflation thru the roof and property values skyrocketing over the past year, this would be a fine time to actually CUT the property tax by 3% instead. I am hoping at least one councilor has the backbone to bring an amendment on the second reading.

Sioux Falls Citizen Mike Zitterich says it best in an email sent to council;

As we begin the final preparations to approve the 2023 Fiscal Budget over the next coming weeks, let’s remember, we are currently in a recession of which many Americans are struggling to put gas in their car, food on the table, pay rents, let alone survive. We can debate all day long whether we have a good or bad economy, based on the # of building permits, or tax dollars coming into the treasury, but let’s stop and remember, the city is very fortunate to be in a position it is in, where its effective tax revenues have remained consistently at or above previous levels. Lets also remember, just cause our direct property based taxes – Sales Tax on goods and services, and Property Tax assessed to the value of land are all based on the direct assessment of how much ‘income’ the residents of the city have, and if their incomes are restricted, then the city has some decisions to make. I have often called attention to the formality of the City Spending more than the actual state and local tax dollars received, while we have a tax base of nearly $400,000,000 million dollars, this city council body is approving a spending budget of nearly $700,000,000 million dollars. As I have done over the past 3 years, I have made the people aware of this huge deficit in public spending, in hopes to help educate the residents. That is essentially what we have here, a “Spending Deficit

As for Agenda Item #59 – the Property Tax Assessments, there is no law that says we can or not increase the amount the ‘government’ is begging for, YOU GUYS have the lawful ability to apportion LESS, thus cutting the budget by a specific dollar amount.

The city really needs to move towards ZERO based budgeting each year to get the spending under control, but that would require the city council to actually do their jobs. You will notice that this week’s agenda has 67 items in which the mayor sponsors almost every single one besides private applicants. There are ZERO items sponsored by our legislative and policy body. I have argued that the mayor should have to get at least one councilor to co-sponsor his items.

Downtown Sioux Falls Bid Tax increase has no explanation on the agenda

As discussed earlier in the week, DTSF wants an increase to their special tax. But if you read the agenda item (Resolution #64). You will notice there is NO mention of an increase, just a renewal;

Section 1. That the 2022 special assessment roll for the Main Street Business Improvement District in the City of Sioux Falls, SD, is hereby approved. The assessment as set out in said special assessment roll approved this date is hereby levied against the property described therein and becomes a lien against such property upon filing of said special assessment roll in the City Finance Office.

I find it curious that The Dakota Scout brought this story forward with NO prior presentation or explanation from the city. So will there be an increase? And if so why is it NOT on the agenda?

DTSF has been trying to convey that need to its members who are subject to the special assessment. And earlier this year, the Main Street BID Board, made up of property owners and other downtown stakeholders, unanimously recommended the proposal be carried forward to the City Council.

Okay. So when was the public going to be told? One minute before the vote? Ridiculous.

City of Sioux Falls website needs $175K in furniture

I have heard some pretty funny explanations from city staff over the years as to why certain consent items need passed, but this one takes the cake (Item #6, sub item #26) (Allie is explaining why a web development company needs additional funding to build the city’s website);

One way to think about the difference between the initial agreement and amendment is if the initial agreement is building the house, the amendment is ensuring we have the right, high?quality and functional appliances, fixtures and furniture for each room.

I always heat up the blog in the microwave before posting 🙂

The city has already allocated $425K to rebuild the city’s website, this is additional funding. The price tag should be concerning. I have worked with web developers over the years and initially when the WWW was introduced there was a lot of manual coding that was very time consuming and expensive. That is really no longer the case. Charging per page to build this site is like buying a couch and getting charged extra for the cushions (see what I did there 🙂

I would understand if you were a small business asking a developer to build a website from scratch that included videos, an online store, etc. Many small businesses use outside IT services because it is just more affordable. But the city of Sioux Falls has 28 employees in the technology department with combined salaries of around $2.4 million. There is absolutely no reason why the city can’t rebuild the city website without outside consultation. It may have to do with the fact that after 3 directors have left they currently have no one running the department.

Mayor TenHaken pens rare Op Ed

Imagine my surprise when I found this Op Ed by the Mayor in the Argus today. I can’t remember the last time he wrote an Op Ed in the Argus (or should we say one of his minions). I suspect there has been some push back by VIPs in the community about crime prevention;

Our per-capita violent crime rates have been largely flat for the past decade, and that is true again for 2022.

While this is true when you compare to population growth, the crimes have become more violent and drug related. I’m not putting this entirely on PTH, even though he has had 4 years to do something about it. The past two police chiefs essentially hid in their offices doing little to address the drug related crimes. Chief Thum has decided to tackle it with 1,000 times more transparency than the last couple of guys but he does need the mayor, his boss, to step up.

The Sioux 52 Mentoring Initiative was set up to intentionally begin addressing challenges we were seeing with juvenile crime. 

I commend this program. Mentoring is essential to help keep youth out of trouble. After winning re-election PTH handed the program over to the HelpLine Center. I’m fine with that except when an elected official starts an initiative they need to stick with even after leaving office. It’s one thing to applaud mentoring programs but on the other hand turn them over to a private entity.

Crime largely has to do with economic status. I don’t believe middle class and lower middle class individuals in Sioux Falls ever fully recovered from the 2008 recession in which wages were frozen for several years. While businesses complain they can’t find workers and can’t afford to pay more, the problem is they never kept up to begin with, wages were stagnant for over a decade while the cost of housing has skyrocketed. The math just doesn’t add up.

It’s the tale of two cities. Over the summer I have decided to ride my bike through neighborhoods (logging almost 3,000 miles since last November) and came to the conclusion that 18th street (west to east) is the dividing line. The further South you go the better the residential neighborhoods, the further North, not so much. While there are pockets like extreme NE and NW for the most part the city is divided in economic status, infrastructure upgrades and housing.

When Janet Brekke was on the council she pushed hard for a pilot program to fix up some of these neighborhoods which would have required a heavy lift from the city when it comes to infrastructure. The solution the city offered was slab on grade tract homes between Brandon and Washington HS. Hardly what Brekke was envisioning. If we don’t address building density in our core for affordable housing in this community ASAP I’m afraid crime is only going to get worse.

Fighting crime means fighting for a more sustainable economy in Sioux Falls, FOR EVERYONE! As that line on 18th street gets wider crime is only going to rise.

Sioux Falls Chamber admits Shape Places screwed the pooch on Wholestone Foods project

I am opposed to anymore packing plants in Sioux Falls and think a better approach would be chiding Smithfield to leave downtown Sioux Falls for good. But I also don’t believe in fairytales.

Since the beginning of this process I have been adamant that there is little the city council and mayor can do to stop this, and the Chamber pretty much simplified the reasons why;

The people of Sioux Falls approved our city’s current zoning ordinances by 65% in April of 2014.

This was AFTER the city council had already approved it and the citizens referred it to a vote. I voted against Shape Places because it removed many crucial conditional use directives the council used to be able to apply to projects. I believe that if Shape Places was never implemented, we may not have seen a council approval of a new packing plant because there would have been public meetings to address the conditional uses.

You get what you ask for.

Unlike Noem, I applaud the initiative process in this matter (even though this should have been a Charter Amendment that would have forced a special election within in 90 days of certification of signatures). It would have given WF little time to react with a grandfather trick.

I expect, even with the passage of this measure, that there will be some court challenges.