Entries Tagged 'Taxes' ↓

Half-Penny Sales tax increase was a bad idea from the get go

Noem keeps up with the tradition of past Republican Governors in our state, telling us how poor we are right before the legislative session, then once it is over they start spending money on pet projects (mostly corporate handouts). Oldest trick in the book. This even comes after added revenue from online sales and the half penny increase;

Noem announced her budget plans Tuesday, which urged state departments to tighten their belts as they head into a difficult financial year. That plan included not having any discretionary inflation increases for overall K-12 education, Medicaid providers and state employees.

But that means there will be no change between target teacher salaries from 2020 to 2021, making it the third year the state has fallen behind on its promise to keep teacher pay competitive if the budget passes

I said it was a bad idea to raise taxes because I knew this would happen, the money went straight into the general fund for the Governor and legislature to waste. Even after several years, it still makes me livid that the legislature didn’t find the money elsewhere (that they have in investment funds) to pay teachers more. Now we are back to square one, and an unneeded tax increase to boot. Don’t get me started. Our State government has been inept for decades, and gets worse by the day.

While most South Dakotans barely scrape by, $355 Billion sits here in tax free trust havens

How much is $355 Billion? It is 710 times the City of Sioux Falls yearly budget. Yeah, it’s a lot of dough, and most South Dakotans don’t have a clue our legislators are allowing this while our benefit to the state coffers is virtually ZERO;

In recent years, countries outside the US have been cracking down on offshore wealth. But according to an official in a traditional tax haven, who has watched as wealth has fled that country’s coffers for the US, the protections offered by states such as South Dakota are undermining global attempts to control tax dodging, kleptocracy and money-laundering. “One of the core issues in fighting a guerrilla war is that if the guerrillas have a safe harbour, you can’t win,” the official told me. “Well, the US is giving financial criminals a safe harbour, and a really effective safe harbour – far more effective than anything they ever had in Jersey or the Bahamas or wherever.”

That means legislators are nodding through bills that they do not understand, at the behest of an industry that is sucking in ever-greater volumes of money from all over the world. If this was happening on a Caribbean island, or a European micro-principality, it would not be surprising, but this is the US. Aren’t ordinary South Dakotans concerned about what their state is enabling?

“The voters don’t have a clue what this means. They’ve never seen a feudal society, they don’t have a clue what they’re enabling,” Wismer said. “I don’t think there are 100 people in this state who understand the ramifications of what we’ve done.”

That’s what we get with ONE party rule in South Dakota (and it doesn’t even matter which party). If we could even implement a teeny-tiny tax on this wealth, it would help us out tremendously in education, road funding and healthcare as well as many other things. We could eliminate video lottery, the food tax, reduce property taxes and help address our drug crisis in the state. But we continue to elect the greedy and the stupid (who are one in the same).

Is the Sioux Falls School District really that tight on money? Several administrators get massive raises

So I started reading this Argus story about across the board raises, this is what the district said;

The wage gap between teachers and administrators in the Sioux Falls School District is widening.

School board candidates in May criticized the district for its spending on administrative salaries, but later in the month the board approved a three-year contract stating that when Sioux Falls teachers get raises, so do their bosses.

This school year, all employees will see a 2.75% salary increase, but when administrators make an average of $76,000 more annually than teachers, that raise goes further for them.

But when you look at the salary increases from last year (they are approved by the school board in July) in the graphic below I created from the district’s salary data, you will see another story. Many administrators are getting massive wage increases right after they approved a $300 million dollar school bond. Here are the entire PDF docs of salaries; 2018-19, 2019-2020

“The city of Sioux Falls, the county, Sanford Health, Avera Health, it’s just kind of the way it works,” said former board member and current administrator Doug Morrison said of the district’s salary schedule. “So everyone can aspire to have a pathway to what they want to be in life.”

The problem(s) with Morrison’s statement (there are several) is that the SFSD is NOT a private corporation or private non-profit, it is a taxpayer funded entity, and our taxes are going through the f’ing roof!

Mickelson would not explain the issue further, but suggested administrator pay be set year-to-year based on performance and the financial condition of the school district instead.

However, district officials say the blanket percentage increase and not seeing the contract’s details beforehand is common practice, something that’s been ongoing for about 20 years. 

Whoa! Cynthia and I agree on something. At least Todd Vik (the business manager) admits to the secrecy and backroom deals. Someone told me recently that they overheard Alberty (who just left the board) say in reference to the Sioux Falls City Council’s very public airing of grievances that the school board makes decisions behind closed doors before the public meeting so the public can’t see the sausage being made, so to speak. Well isn’t that nice?!

Vik acknowledged the percentage allocated for increases to teacher salaries has consistently also been tied to administrative salary increases, except for four occasions. 

District officials also said the average increase isn’t as large as it seems on paper, and includes those moving up the steps of a set salary schedule.


“A wage gap is accurate, but disparity, if I were to look up the definition, that would say to me our teacher salaries are growing by a less percentage than our administrators,” Alberty said about his May vote Wednesday. “But it’s tied to the teachers increases get and that’s not a disparity in my mind at all.”

Really? The data below tells a different tale Mr. Vik and Mr. Alberty. Administrators are getting rich while the taxpayers are getting screwed.

In the graphic, the RED DOTS denote who got a raise over 2.75%. In fact out of 68 employees listed, 42 got more than that. I also listed the percentages they received. You will also notice that job titles are NOT listed, it is that way in the data the SFSD has listed.

UPDATE: Using Entertainment taxes for private entity setting a bad precedent

I first want to say I support finishing the State Theatre, I have actually helped with some charity fundraisers for the facility through ZombieWalk and SF Roller Dollz. I think it is a worthy cause and I applaud Denny Sanford for giving money to the goal of completion. But I think that is still the direction the theatre should move in, private donations for a private facility.

Using entertainment taxes sets a bad precedent, as I pointed out yesterday, and I will tell you why.

Seven years ago, former city clerk Debra Owen won an open meetings case over how her termination was handled. During the proceedings, City Attorney David Fiddle-Faddle argued his case based on the opinion of a former attorney general. 4 of the 5 attorneys who sat on the Open Meetings Commission contended that an ‘opinion’ of an AG is NOT case law, so it did not apply. When Fiddle continued to argue based on the AG’s opinion, one of the panelists asked David cynically, “You do understand that the opinion of a AG is not the same as case law? Don’t you?” The crowd in attendance let out an audible giggle. The commission determined that you have to base your arguments on tried case law, not opinions.

The City of Sioux Falls is trying to say they can spend the entertainment money on a private entity in the form of promoting the city based on a opinion of the AG in 1984. But there is NO case law. In other words, the city could be sued if they try to set this precedent. Even if I supported giving the State Theatre MORE tax money, which I don’t, it should come out of the CIP not the entertainment tax.

Listen to Allison Weiland talk about the State on Jon Michael’s Forum

In other news, Cameraman Bruce attended a luncheon today talking about open meeting laws, 3 of the panelists were former State Legislator Dave Knudson, Argus reporter Jonathan Ellis and Jon Arneson (Argus attorney). They all contended that the most recent open meeting laws that Knudson helped write, said that if text messaging or emails during a public open meeting are being used, that correspondence can be used in a court case. So council, if you were smart, you would put the phones and email chatting away during the meetings.

Welcome to Opt-Out Falls!

Well, it was bound to happen, with ALL of our local government agencies in Sioux Falls going Bat Sh*t crazy over opt-outs, the name change is no surprise.

“I will admit I was a little surprised and kind of hurt when I found out the name change,” local philanthropist Lenny Spamford exclaimed, “I mean just how much does a no state income tax paying billionaire in SD have to give before he gets a town named after him?”

The governor, Donita Trump, didn’t seem too bothered by the change either, “I guess we kind of forced it on them, you know, by collecting over 30% of our sales tax revenue from the city and giving them nothing in return. It may not seem fair, well because it isn’t. I told you I would do things differently, and I’m delivering on that promise. Talk to you later, I have to get back to trucker hat shopping and hip-hop dance lessons.”

The latest to opt-out was the Minnerahrah County Commission today voting 6-0 for an opt-out (and 5 of them are Republicans! The shame!).

“The county, especially Sioux Falls has become the place to commit crimes, it’s like it’s trendy or something to drive from Freeman, or Menno or even Highmore to commit crimes in our county,” said county commissioner Gene Bart, “We really enjoy arresting people here and putting them in the endless cycle of the criminal justice system. Heck, just yesterday we arrested someone for looking at the Arc of Dreams the wrong way, on top of that we even put a guy away for trying to burn the newly sodded grass at the Levitt with a magnifying glass. Lawn crimes, just another mole we are trying to whack! Building collapses, not so much.”

Of course nothing gives the Sioux Falls School District more jollies than an opt-out. Superintendent Baron Von Maulher said, “We were getting such a kick out of it, I banned joke books from the IPC. Whenever I see anyone down and out around the offices, I just yell ‘OPT-OUT’ and the whole place breaks out in laughter. Of course, the finance department does get a little trepidation, because they have to ‘count’ (wink, wink) the votes. I always tell them they can do that with their hands tied behind their back and blindfolded. Worked in the school bond election.”

I asked Baron what the opt-out schedule looked like for the school district over the next 5-10 years.

“Well, since Pierre really doesn’t care how much we raise taxes, we figured we would push the envelope a bit,” Von Maulher replied, “We are going to try 6-12 opt-outs per year through the board, and if the people whine about having a choice, we will hold an election, but this time there will be only ONE super precinct, and it will be in my office.”

The city council is also infamous for raising property taxes. In fact, I don’t think a city council has voted down an increase in over 15 years.

City Council Vice Chair, and RS5 self-appointed leader, Ned Greitzert explained it like this, “When someone hands you lemons, you make lemonade, when the state hands us an opportunity to raise the tax rate, we make grenades, uh, I mean lemonade.”

Well, that would explain the potholes.

I asked him about all the other numerous increases in fees and taxes the city imposes on the citizens, and couldn’t they just take it a little easy?

“Funny you bring that up,” replied Greitzert, “The majority of the council, the ‘RS5’ as we like to call it, or the ‘He-Man Steely Hater’s Club’ is all about positivity and progressive measures to keep our city’s high level of quality of life at a maximum, that means if we are going to raise fees on water, sewer and other stuff, we have to keep that tradition of caring  and due diligence with property taxes. Wouldn’t it seem odd to you that your water bill went up last year but your property taxes didn’t? Where’s the consistency there? If you want inconsistency with taxes, just vote Steely for mayor. All she’ll do is bankrupt the city while giving taxpayers a break. The next thing you know, we will all be swimming in an outdoor pool in the middle of January.”

I didn’t have the heart to tell Ned that I didn’t know how to swim, especially under ice.

Some question why all the local entities have to constantly raise our tax rates when valuations have had record growth over the past 6 years?

Mayor TenBibleverses’ Chief of Staff took a stab at the question, “I call it the candy syndrome, something I kind of started when I worked for that last crook, I mean, mayor and quit ONLY after I was forced to write the largest TIF in city history for the Spamford Sports Complex,” said Jericho Speck, “We just started handing out TIFs, tax rebates, excusing tipping fees, ignored environmental laws, built millions in infrastructure for ice cream warehouses and just said, screw it, corporate welfare for whoever wants it. Don’t tell my pastor.”

I asked, “The Candy Syndrome?”

“Yeah,” Speck said “Whatever rich developer in town that needs a handout for NO reason at all, we just give it to them. No questions asked. No proof of economic impact. No proof of job growth, or even good paying jobs. We just make sure the request is signed and we approve it. The city clerk’s office handles petitions in a similar same way.”

I wondered if this haphazard way of giving tax cuts and tax incentives was driving up everyone else’s property taxes.

Speck responded, “What? Are you stupid? Does beer like foam collect at the bottom of Falls Park every Spring for the past 100 thousand years?! You certainly are the poster child for the large percentage of South Dakotans that don’t go to college. Ever think about taking up welding? There’s a program I could refer you to.”

I had more questions, but I had to get back to my call center job, my 8.5 minute break was over.

While this was satire, some of the sh*t is true, mostly everything but the fake names.

West River math VS. East River math

So this is an interesting story;

RCSD – $250m – $20/month increase in property taxes on every $100,000 of value  =  $240 yr
Morrison/Vik/Maher MATH:
SFSD – $190m – $2/month increase in property taxes on $100,000  =  $24 yr
So which finance director is telling the truth?
I do know that the SFSD rearranged their capital outlay levees, but the disparity is strange. I also wonder if they plan to pay off the bonds a lot faster in RC?

UPDATE: Is Sioux Steel Development looking for a ‘Massive’ Record Breaking TIF?

UPDATE: Big Thanks to Snevelicious for following up on this story!

So this is taking place next Thursday, April 11 (City Council Meeting Calendar)

4 PM Architecture Ideas and Presentations

Held at the receiving building of Sioux Steel Company, 196 1/2 E. 6th St.

Please park on the west side of the Sioux Steel Building or in The Market

5 PM Heavy appetizers and drinks at The Market, 196 E. 6th St

The Sioux Steel Development folks have already mentioned they want to build a 900 stall parking ramp (or around that size) they have also mentioned using TIF. What they haven’t said is how much. I believe the largest TIF ever given out in Sioux Falls was for the Sanford Sports Complex (I can’t remember the actual dollar amount, but I think it was $9 million and I believe 20 years). The rumor going around is that the Sioux Steel will be asking for a TIF in the amount to cover the construction costs of the parking ramp a number that could range between $20-30 Million dollars. The largest TIF ever given out in the history of the city. It also seems the event next week is away to smooze the city council into this.

Some would look at this as an ‘opportunity’ for the city to get out of paying for a parking ramp like we did Downtown already, but as I look at it, we shouldn’t be contributing anything. TIFs are the largest form of corporate welfare. We should be focusing tax incentives on rebuilding our neighborhoods.

Oh, but it gets even better. Another developer is rumored to be offering the city to buy some of the RR redevelopment land. He said he doesn’t want any TIFs or tax reductions, but he is only willing to pay HALF of the appraised value. They always have to have something. This developer has already raked the city over the coals for other DT developments along the river greenway.

I think it is ironic that all these FREE market, ant-socialist Republican developers in town are the biggest socialists of them all. Maybe we should rename the area ‘Karl Marx Greenway’.

CVB & Hoteliers talk ‘BID TAX’ on Air BNB

I guess the CVB had a luncheon (today?) and a little birdy told me the discussion quickly went to how Air BNB is hurting the hotel industry in Sioux Falls and maybe it is time to start charging them a Bid Tax.

Gee. I wonder whose idea that was? Probably some idiot blogger.

The operators of Air BNB already have skirted paying other lodging taxes (they pay sales taxes) and avoid the same health inspections Hotels, Motels and Bed & Breakfasts have to endure.

Maybe it was just idle bitching, but I have never known the leader of the CVB to remain idle to long.

UPDATE: Correction on Tax Incentives for Dakota Gold

There seems to be some confusion of where Dakota Gold Alliance was previously located and what the tax incentive is for. I have to do some more digging.

There was a group of properties in the area by the old Avera Sports Dome. The ownership group was listed under Leggett Family Trust. While researching County tax records, they had Dakota Gold listed to the property (which is a possibility because it is a warehouse that could be used for storage, and warehouses fall under the ‘INDUSTRIAL’ designation for tax reductions). Another source tells me that Dakota Gold was located at another office in that cluster, but that would have been their formal offices. So the tax reduction was for the warehouse, I’m just not sure at this point if Dakota Gold was using the warehouse at that time, and perhaps that is why they were listed on the tax records.

Folks, this is what happens when secretive administrations don’t tell the public or council anything for almost a decade.

According to a city ordinance that was passed by the city council in 2008;

March 3rd, 2008 – Sioux Falls City Council

http://amv.siouxfalls.org/OnBaseAgendaOnline/Meetings/ViewMeeting?id=1838&doctype=2#

DEFERRED ACTION: 2ND READING: AN ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF SIOUX FALLS, SD, AMENDING THE REVISED ORDINANCES OF THE CITY BY REVISING THE NAME OF PERSON TO RECEIVE APPLICATION FOR REDUCED TAXATION ON NEW CONSTRUCTION.

Document:  Ord. 1017

Proposed Amendment:

Section 39-139. Discretionary formula report:

In July of each year, the assistant director of planning and building services shall submit a report to the city council of all eligible completed new construction projects which qualified for the discretionary formula beginning in December of 2008. The report will include the description of each qualified property, the base full and true taxable value, the new adjusted full value of new construction and improvements, and the amount of discretionary loss of taxable value as defined in city ordinance of 100%, 80%, 60%, 40% or 20% for each year of the eligible tax abatement.

In other words, by city charter, the city council was supposed to see yearly reports. This gets more interesting by the day.

 

More tax incentive for developers

I guess if you have a lot of money, you get all the price breaks. According to the City in this informational presentation (PDF DOC: Tax Reduction Program – Informational Jan. 8.pdf;

Reduced Property Taxation

Any person desiring to claim reduced taxation on new construction shall make application to the Planning and Development Services Department on or before October 1 in the year in which the project is completed and shall first appear on the tax rolls as a completed or modified structure. The application shall be submitted on a form prescribed by the city. Upon Planning and Development Services’ approval of the application, the staff shall notify the applicant within 30 days stating whether the facility is eligible to receive reduced taxation.

Since 2008 the City has reduced approximately $14 million in property taxes. Seems strange when we are trying to find money for new infrastructure, like a sewer plant, we would be allowing these many cuts.

One of the arguments for these cuts is that the businesses will create jobs;

Review the requirements for projects to receive incentive:

◦ Job creation

◦ Types of jobs

◦ Increase in Tax base

Do we really believe with the wages these places are paying they will make up the $14 million in unpaid taxes? I think a requirement that should be under review is if these properties are paying living wages. Otherwise it is no different then TIFs, just another corporate welfare program.