Entries Tagged 'SF City Council' ↓

Sioux Falls City Council Chair teaches us how to eat at Thanksgiving

As I have said in the past, I have never seen Marshall Selberg say or do much, then there is this;

Tree Branches. We’re On It.

Sioux Falls City Council Meetings • Nov 18, 2019

Informational Meeting
Regular Meeting

Sioux Falls City Council ‘AT-Large’ race should be at least a ‘Threesome’

Yeah, whether Stehly is Ramrodding or Swinging she says some interesting things

There seems to be a lot of people concerned that Theresa Stehly is running for re-election for the At-Large position with the Sioux Falls city council. Even last night at Alex Jensen’s kickoff party he brought her up without bringing her up. As I have said in the past, I’m not sure if Stehly is going to run. The last conversation we had about it she responded, “I’m not sure.” and said something about needing to clean her house.

I have been telling people it doesn’t matter if Theresa runs for re-election, we need to have a lot of people running for the seat since it is At-Large. I mean, just think about it. If Theresa doesn’t run, our only choice would be Alex who basically vowed in his speech last night to do whatever the administration wants him to do and developers and business people, which is code for ‘rubber stamper’. I would like to see 4-6 people run for the seat including Alex and Theresa. There will ultimately be a run-off anyway if there is three or more.

I would also like to see more people run against Neitzert in the NW District. He has been a total disaster, not only supporting projects and initiatives that have been detrimental to our city, but going back on his promise of good government and transparency. And his unapologetic support of the Bunker Ramp and new Internal Auditor is truly despicable.

I often tell people when municipal elections roll around to get involved, and to either run as a candidate or help a candidate. We can’t continue down this rubber stamping road.

Sioux Falls City Council financial update reveals some interesting tidbits

I guess I missed the first part of the informational meeting where financial director Mr. Pritchett revealed some interesting things going on. I appreciate Shawn’s honesty.

The first thing he reveals is that Sioux Empire Community Theatre owes SMG or Global, or whatever they are calling themselves these days $74K for past rentals of the Orpheum and that they have an agreement to pay $1,000 a month until it is paid up. What a deal! The Pavilion, which runs the Orpheum now requires the SECT to pay rent for events now with 50% up front.

Then there is the Event Center that actually pulled in less revenue last year, but get this, made a bigger profit (according to Global). I guess when you don’t have to pay anybody (part-timers) to work events (because very few are going on) you make more money. Go figure. I wonder if we mothballed the place we could make even more money!

We also found out why we had to ‘repair’ the HVAC system at the Denty, because it has severely malfunctioned causing leaks in the roof and damage to the ceiling. So now we have the siding and the HVAC system, makes you wonder what other things we cut corners on. A former Denty employee told me once “Don’t lean too hard on the interior walls, you may fall thru.”

Speaking of leaky stuff, the Pavilion is requesting around $6 million to fix the roof and railing on the roof. Where are they getting their bids? Certainly not from Mitchell Roofing 🙂

We also got to hear about the deteriorating Sioux Falls Stadium and what we are going to do with that money pit, but that discussion really didn’t go anywhere – as usual.

Yet we need to charge non-profits who actually bring successful events into Sioux Falls that drive the economy $70 an hour, per officer, for police protection. Go figure. As one of my former co-workers used to say about our boss/owner of the company we worked for, “He’s concerned about pennies as dollars are flying out the window.”

Sioux Falls City Councilors question the fees for police service

I first want to make a correction. According to council staff the police department is the department that is pushing for this and NOT Councilor Kiley (though I have heard differently). That aside, several councilors questioned charging non-profits for this due to economic impact at today’s informational meeting. Councilors Erickson and Starr were the most vocal. Starr went on to ask Deputy Chief of Staff, TJ Nelson if the city would be giving rebates to the non-profits putting on these events because of the massive economic impact.

Erickson talked about youth sporting events.

There was some discussion about maybe separating non-profit from for-profit events (which makes sense). They all agreed that more discussion needs to happen before they move forward.

I remembered when we were told about the economic impact of the veteran’s cemetery and why it was a good idea to gift the land.

While I think it is appropriate to charge for for-profit events, I’m not sure it is wise to charge non-profit events. As Starr also pointed out, if we need more money for staff and overtime for the officers, they should budget for it instead of tying it into this. I think he said something like the police union got ‘HOSED’ by the city last year in contract negotiations.

Another funny moment was when Erickson asked about how you determine something is a political rally/protest which is considered a 1st Amendment event and the city could not charge for police security. She jokingly said (and she did apologize for the comparison) that what if the Zombie Walk parade said it was actually a political event to bring awareness to pro-life issues 🙂

UPDATE: Sioux Falls City Council Agenda, MONDAY, November 18, 2019

As you can see, the council meeting is on Monday this week because, I believe four councilors are leaving Tuesday for the National League of Cities City Summit in San Antonio, TX. I think the four attending are Starr, Stehly, Erickson, Neitzert and his hand sanitizer (they give free soap at the hotel).

City Council Informational Meeting • 4 PM

There will be presentations on;

• October Financials, the city is still riding in at about 6.4% from last year, which is good.

• Mary Jo Wegner Arboretum Management Agreement, which is a year to year agreement

• As I understand the last presentation, the city is going to start charging for events at the Levitt, but there has also been a smaller discussion about charging for police security at various events. One that has been discussed for years is JazzFest, yet the discussion quickly dies once it is pointed out to the PD that that event brings in tax revenue and has an economic impact. I heard from a city mole that the SFPD has been complaining they have to work the event which causes them to take a day off in the middle of the week then have to work a Saturday. Not sure if that complaint is true, and besides, all I have ever seen POs do at JazzFest is hang out in the beer tents and eat. Seems like a pretty good gig. I also want to point out that they are paid to do a job – does it matter what or where they are doing it? Seems like a grievance they can bring up to their Union rep. Also, even if we start charging for police presence at JazzFest and other events – how does it solve the scheduling issue? It doesn’t, which brings it back to just a ‘money’ issue. If you look at slide #11 on the attached PDF on the presentation, you will find some curious ‘numbers’. First off, the officer count is questionable. I think someone did not do the math correctly in that column, because it basically says that there was only two officers at every event. So let’s just review the hours. I found it suspicious that ZombieWalk (a parade that lasted about 20 minutes had 8 logged hours, or Jazzfest, an event at most lasting about 20 hours total had 464 hours logged (that breaks down to about 23 officers working the event at the same time – hardly). Also, if we are going to start ‘charging’ for police presence, we have to be fair and charge for all events. This would include ALL parades, funeral processions, and YES campaign security for a private fundraiser when the president shows up and doesn’t do a public appearance. I think they are going down a rabbit hole that they will never get out of. As a city official said to me when I asked them their opinion, ‘This is what we pay taxes for.’ In other words they were against charging the fees since we are already paying for these services. I would agree (though I still think Noem owes us $20,000). Also, the yearly cost is peanuts, $125K a year. I’m sure the city recoups those costs in tax revenue generated by these events at least Ten-Fold if NOT more. Much to do about nothing. What they really need to do is fix the scheduling of the officers so that covering these special events is done fairly with all of the staff involved.

UPDATE: I’m curious what this means in the ordinance ‘Adds First Amendment Activity to ordinance’. I don’t know, there are NO details about this in the presentation, but my guess it has to do with political rallies or protests, which I find odd. The 1st Amendment is broad and already protects us. A municipality really doesn’t have the power to amend the US Constitution. That part of the proposed ordinance will be an interesting discussion.

UPDATE II: I did some more research on this. I guess this is a pet project of Councilor Kiley who has been pushing this for awhile. I heard that the mayor is kind of on the fence and thinks that the fees should be selective based on the nature of the event. Not sure what we will hear from either one of them. I also know this is something that Barthel pushed for when he was working under the last mayor, and Bowlcut shut it down, because he saw it as a ‘scheduling’ issue, as I do.

I also want to point out that Kansas City used to have a massive Jazz and Blues Festival that ended about 15 years ago because the city said they were going to start charging for police presence. It killed the festival.

If you look at this STUDY from 2015 of the economic impact of these events in our community, you will see the massive returns. It was stated one time by the CVB that JazzFest alone (depending on it’s attendance) brings in about $9-20 million in economic impact. While I understand that this seems like a handout, the economic impact covers the $125K easily. I guess non-profits around town have been very nervous about this for awhile and that if this happens, JF will move to the fair grounds which will essentially KILL the event.

I see what is going on here. They want to charge rental fees for the Levitt, which I totally understand and agree with. With a new facility like that it is wise to get these things in place early and build on them. But the rental of the Levitt has NOTHING to do with police security at these events. (They are separate ordinances, but somehow are coming forward at the same time). What they are basically doing is trying to tie this in with it, to get it passed. It what legislators call ‘hog housing’. It is how the Pavilion* got passed. And with Kiley on the way out in a few months, he wants to get this done before he leaves, similar to the idiotic move by Erpenbach and Rolfing to rig our local elections with council runoffs. My advice to the council is that if they are going to do this, they are going down a very slippery slope that could kill many great public events in our city.

*Notice that Sidewalk Arts Festival and German Fest was NOT included on the chart for police presence.

City Council Regular Meeting • 7 PM

Item #6, Approval of Contracts, Sub Item #8, HVAC upgrades to Events Center, $255K. Can you imagine as a business owner, that after you made a multi-million dollar building expansion that in 5 short years you were told you needed to spend this kind of coin to upgrade the HVAC system? Now I understand regular maintenance, but this just sounds shady. I have seen this a lot with the EC, we cut corners while building it and now we are making very costly upgrades that should have been included to begin with. What a sham.

Items #38 & #50, $200K for bike trail expansion.

Items #46-47, 1st Readings, Rail Yard Flats purchase agreements

Item #49, 1st Reading, adding a new city election precinct, by splitting one in half in an expanding neighborhood in Lincoln County

Bunker Ramp extra funds approved 6-1 (Stehly dissenting, Soehl absent)

Part of the extra $1.5 million of the extra money needed, approved by the Sioux Falls City Council tonight was $467K in ‘Demobilization’ fees. What is this? We are being charged to take down the crane and for them to clean up the site because the hotel is NOT being built. First off, this ‘fee’ should have been in the final costs already, and we shouldn’t be paying for this with extra funding. The developer, contractor and CMAR (Construction Manager at Risk) should be paying this, this is why we hire them – TO TAKE ON THE RISK. While I understand we have to ‘fill holes’ and provide safety issues at the facility to get it open, taking down a construction crane is NOT our problem. The CMAR, supposed developer and contractor can hash out that on their own.

Of course, the excuses were flying like the back blades on a manure spreader on an early Spring day, why WE should have to pay for this.

The finance director said the crane had to be taken down and site cleanup to open the ramp. Duh. This would have had to happen whether we built the hotel on top or not, and should have already been budgeted for.

Stehly said during the discussion, there have been very few answers about the demobilization fees. She tried to amend it by taking off the $500K and no one seconded the motion, so it failed.

Only councilors Starr and Brekke had anything to put in towards the discussion.

Towards the end, Brekke said that her ‘hands were clean’ in the matter. I guess Neitzert was making fun of her by whispering to Marshall asking for some soap as they proceeded to pretend to wash their hands (I didn’t catch it on camera, so I’m not sure what he was doing) but Starr commented before the vote, “. . . I wanted to tell Councilor Neitzert that I do have some soap and some hand sanitizer and if you want to sit in leadership and make fun of people while they are making a speech, go for it.” 

LOL.

There was NO response from Neitzert.

Sioux Falls Planning Commission Member Luetke has interesting response to parking ramp debacle on FB

I’m going to break his comment up into pieces since it is kind of long, and I will add my commentary. This is from Planning Commission member Larry Luetke responding to a post Councilor Stehly had on FB about the Bunker Ramp;

Larry Luetke I really think there is more to this story. The city cuts off communication with their partners two weeks before their deadline of 30 days to respond to changes with the project. It is stated in the contract that the city must respond within the 30 days. Either ok with the change, a modification or build what they were supposed too. There was no response back to them and contract was cut. It is fine if you don’t agree with the company that got it but there was a contract that was signed. Which puts us at citizens liable. Reading through the contract I don’t see where the city will win this one (I am not a lawyer). Which will put us liable for a lot of stuff beyond the 1.5 million that is short.

I’m with Larry on this one (I am also not a lawyer) but I do agree that modifying a contract is NOT unheard of, and when you cut off communication early, some wonder if something else was going on behind the scenes (not like that ever happens in city government 🙂

I think what is best for us is to allow the modifications to the project and allow the developer to start building. The lawsuit will cost us so much more.

He is absolutely correct, but we should have never taken out the bonds to begin with, and we should have halted this until we had substantial proof that the investment dollars were there from the developers. All we got was a lousy piece of paper that basically amounted to a IOU note in your piggy bank similar to when one of your older siblings stole from you.

Once finished it will bring in sales tax revenue and property tax to the city and county. Currently as a parking ramp it will pay no sales tax, no property tax and we will collect a minimal amount of parking fees.

As taxpayers, I never thought we would make much on this anyway, completed or NOT. This is why the city needed the 2nd Penny for collateral, because like most other projects we have bonded for over the past 20 years, we have had to have the 2nd Penny pay the mortgage. We have a very solid track record of multiple projects that will NEVER pay for themselves, such as the Pavilion, Events Center, MAC, Orpheum, etc.

I feel that it is our best interest in allowing the developer to move forward with their project. Some questions I would ask our city officials. If there was a meeting at one of the country clubs about another downtown hotel project in which a person said that we need to keep this quiet for a couple of weeks (which is the same time frame of when the city was not responding to their partner). Also a rumor is that the hotel project that I was just talking about was also in question of not being done because of the Village on the River project would be finished first and the other hotel would saturate the downtown hotel market. So because of that a certain project downtown would not move forward. The information I just stated is third hand but really has made me question what the real issue of why the city did not respond to their partner Village on the River.

I have no idea what project Larry is talking about, but if I was going to bet my ass on a guesstimation it would be the hotel and convention center Sioux Steel in partnership with Lloyd is proposing on that redevelopment project. But at this point, just pure speculation.

Also based on the contract the contractor is the one responsible for the performance bond. What I have heard from a partner of the developer is that this project is still a go with the modifications once the city agrees to their modifications. With the modifications they have more hotel rooms then proposed even without the extra two stories. Just as a disclaimer I have nothing to do with this project but feel based on my research and hear say we as citizens will be the burden of costs if we don’t allow this project to move forward.

Well, I hate to break it to you Larry, but the taxpayers were and are getting stiffed on this project either way. We were never going to get the parking spots we needed publicly, we paid too much for the spaces and foundation, the lease was a steal, and it is being built in the wrong place.

I will stay with my original emotions on this project – it was a bad idea out of the gate and should have NEVER even made it to a city council agenda. Thanks to Mayor Bucktooth & Bowlcut, another money sucking project he cooked up that is screwing over the constituents.

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.