Entries Tagged 'Sioux Falls' ↓

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.

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.

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?

Kermit Staggers Tribute

John Michael’s Forum had a tribute today to Kermit with special guests Greg Jamison, Stehly, and his grandson Elijah and daughter Ayn.

UPDATE: This is the reason we should NOT let greed drive development

UPDATE: I guess they are called breakaway netting that is designed to do this in high wind. I guess it makes sense, but seems like a gigantic pain in the ass.

Oh boy, guess what happened?

A picture taken Saturday morning showed a number of the nets surrounding the building’s driving range had been blown from their poles following the week’s ice, snow and high winds.

Who knew we would have problems with high winds and ice in Sioux Falls? That has never happened before? Wait until our global warming inspired thunderstorms roll through this place, it will turn out to be a real gem.

As I mentioned in September, I wondered how something like this could be permitted. One of the concerns I did not mention is the winds. I guess there is quite a bit of light pollution at night coming off the place to.

This is what happens when our planning department is ran by greed instead of logic. This silly contraption should have never been assembled or at least built in a different way. But like most things in this town, everything has to be slapped together overnight. And here are the results.

Kermit Staggers Memorial Services

UPDATE: The ‘TIF’ Threat

I still remember attending the open house about the Sioux Steel Development at Josiah’s. Many people from the public offered their opinions at the meeting, as did I. I remember telling them it was a great idea, but I advised them to ‘go it alone’ and not get the city involved. I remember Rysdons’ incredulous look. Shocker! They didn’t take my advice.

It’s like the playbook never changes, when a developer in Sioux Falls wants a TIF they use the tired old threat,

Right now, the Sioux Steel site is valued at about $3.1 million by the county equalization office, resulting in an annual tax bill of $57,000. When the project is complete, the anticipated property tax payment would be around $1.58 million a year.

That equates to a 14 YEAR TAX BREAK!

Without it, parking to service the businesses included in the vision would likely be scaled down to surface parking lots, said Jake Quasney, executive vice president of development for Lloyd Cos.

“What would happen if we didn’t do the parking ramp, we’d build a scaled down version of the hotel and conference center, maybe some apartments and some surface parking,” he said.

Oh Well?

These are private developers that are already getting around $10 million from taxpayers to upgrade the river greenway along their property (something else I’m opposed to – because I think the city should just sell them Kiwanis Park and let them ‘upgrade it’). They are also ‘Private’. Why should the city be concerned if they scale back the project? Which brings us to another interesting factor. As we are trying to get the EC campus to get it’s poop in a group so the CVB (that we fund) can bring in more conventions, this private development wants to build a convention center, downtown. While I will applaud them, because it is a great idea, it is still private. So why would we give property tax rebates to a private development that will be competing with taxpayers for conventions? It is insane! It would be like paying Wild Water West to accept the City of Sioux Falls pool passes!

In this ARTICLE and STUDY they lay out what TIF’s really do;

“On average, [TIF] may be moving development from one part of the city to another, and changing the timing of the development, but there’s not more development than would have otherwise been made,” Merriman said.

Basically he is saying that you are robbing Peter to pay Paul. As I have argued, the development will happen anyway – with or without the TIF.

In addition, this is a tool with several drawbacks. According to Merriman, TIFs might “capture” some tax revenue above the capped “base value” that may have been generated anyway through natural appreciation in property values if the TIF hadn’t been created. This is money that taxpayers might have otherwise paid directly towards an overlapping school district, or for public services. And while TIF is not a direct tax increase, it may lead to higher rates or service cuts elsewhere, if the city plans on bringing in the same general property tax revenue as before TIF.

In other words, while this PRIVATE developer is getting a massive 14 year tax break, the rest of us are paying higher taxes to support it. Even with provable economic impact, those higher taxes for the rest of us don’t offset what benefit we would get from it. In other words the only one who is really benefitting is the developer.

Also take note that we have bonded for several major projects recently, the Denty, the City Admin Building, the Bunker Ramp, the new jail, the new schools and very soon the public safety training facility and water plant. At rough estimates that is about $680 million in new bonds over a short period of time with a payoff amount exceeding $1 Billion.

There is something else developers and city leaders like about TIFs;

Perhaps the biggest concern with TIF, though, is that of transparency, because of the way this mechanism effectively bypasses the public municipal budget process.

“Once a TIF is created, the operation of a TIF receives less scrutiny than other spending,” Merriman said.

In other words the public is essentially left out of that process and is usually given ZERO evidence that it will help us. But in this town, we love closed door deals, 5G is a great example of this.

Not everything about TIFs is bad, if used properly;

But TIF is good for sparking public-private partnerships that may help fund useful infrastructure that may not otherwise be appealing to investors, such as raising the height of a bridge tunnel so it can carry large trucks, for example. In the report, Merriman recommends several ways to use this tool more effectively, and make it easier for policymakers and researchers to evaluate. Most important: Cities needs to be more transparent about how they are using TIF. It’s not a magic free-money generator.

“It’s a concern about why those decisions are being made,” he said, “and why there’s a public subsidy for development that might have occurred even without the subsidy.”

So is the Sioux Steel development giving Sioux Falls residents something we need to improve quality of life and infrastructure? Not one iota. In fact the infrastructure upgrades to the river greenway along this development is being paid for by us. I would even be willing to gift the development the river greenway land, give them a smaller TIF, and have them upgrade it. There the taxpayers would benefit.

I also enjoyed this little tidbit;

The ramp portion of the project is estimated to cost about $22.6 million.

So they are going to build another Bunker Ramp downtown for about $25K a space. How is this possible? I will tell you – BECAUSE THAT IS THE F’ING GOING RATE! Never mind that hand soap sanitizer man child Neitzert has told you different. The cost for the Bunker Ramp was incredibly inflated and we said it from the beginning. With the new codes in place they will have to build this facility with the proper lighting, fire suppression and generator power – just like the bunker ramp.

I will say this, I think the concept of this development is fantastic, and I commend them on it, but like most things ‘FREE ENTERPRISE’ I also believe they can sink or swim on their own. TIF or NO TIF, it will be successful, and they know it, they just want to save a little money, that is obvious. I encourage every single public servant who is voting on this to request a comprehensive TIF study in Sioux Falls on economic impact and workforce development. I would even go so far to say that the city pays for it and has one of our public universities do it. It seems like when we ask for TIFs in Sioux Falls, it is all based on a whim, and NOT reality. Don’t be suckered by the ‘threats’. Make the one’s asking provide the evidence that this will help us. I already know the answer and this is why they avoid the study.

UPDATE: I see they are bringing out the ‘big guns’ on this, employing everyone in the (paid) media to tell us that this is a partnership with the community;

Both current downtown redevelopment projects require some level of partnership with our city government. In the case of the rail yard development, the city is being asked to sell land. In the case of the Sioux Steel development, the city is being asked to approve tax increment financing.

It sure is a partnership. The developer gets a gigantic tax break and all of our taxes continue to go up. Who wouldn’t be for this kind of ‘partnership’? Comparing the railyard project to getting a TIF is hardly a comparison. Did we get what we wanted for the land? Nope. But that was never going to happen. I think it is wise for the city to liquidate property so it can start generating tax revenue. Unlike what they did with Phillips to the Falls where the city ‘sat on’ land and held it for 11 years for a developer. They were never going to sell it to anyone else. And surprise, surprise, the same the developer is going to the trough once again.

It will be fun to watch the predictability of how this will play out. They asked for $21 million, but the city will come back and say we will give you ‘X’ amount instead. Then the city will brag about how they negotiated a better deal. It’s the old bait and switch the energy companies have been playing for years with rate increases. They always ask for double of what they really want or need then make it look like they cut a deal with the PUC. Old’s trick in the book, and our elected officials fall for it everytime.

‘HOLY SMOKEBALLS’ This is how our Public Safety officers spend their time (and your tax dollars)

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.