Entries Tagged 'Taxes' ↓

Mayor TenHaken proclaims it is time to focus on infrastructure

DakotaNews chief softball pitcher, Brian Allen, recently did an interview with Paul asking him what we should focus on in 2023. Paul said it was time to get back to focusing on infrastructure.

I guess it only took 5 years for Paul to figure out the simple premise of local municipal government; you collect taxes and fees and provide essential services like road maintenance, water and sewer, public safety and outdoor recreation in our parks.

Ever since Mayor Munson, the city has focused more and more on chipping away at our 2nd penny for things like leather chairs for a private movie theater, landscaping and ‘other stuff’ for a private research facility, butterflies and tennis courts while giving massive tax breaks to welfare queen developers.

When former city commissioner Loila Hunking proposed the 2nd penny tax decades ago it was to be in a lockbox and only to be used on road maintenance and in rare occasions other infrastructure projects, since then the penny has been on a wild spending spree that has little to do with the pothole in front of your house.

It often cracks me up listening to past and current mayors and city councilors talk about how we need to ‘get back to’ focusing on infrastructure.

Don’t be fooled by the promises. There is going to be a big fight in Pierre this winter over reducing the food tax and property taxes, one of the proposals will win at the end of the day (I think the property tax cut has a better chance). Mayors and councilors across the state will be crying about the revenue loss and will be asking how they will be able to keep up with essential services and infrastructure.

Let me give you a little advice; stop spending our tax dollars on stupid sh!t.

Downtown Sioux Falls BID tax almost doubled due to typo in ordinance

I am not surprised this happened. Over the past decade I have watched the integrity of the legal descriptions in ordinances deteriorate substantially and it seems almost weekly the council is amending some mistake or typo (Item #96);

This would have been quite the boo-boo.

This past year the Building Services manager had to apologize to the city council for screwing up on a fee adjustment that wasn’t caught by the council or attorney’s office but by a contractor.

The BID Tax increase was deferred because a couple of DTSF business owners cried. I don’t see any amendments and I don’t expect any tonight, this will pass easily. The Billionaire Italians bitching about this increase can afford it, oh, and will DTSF hang some damn xmas lights at Sunshine already!

Sioux Falls City Council Tidbits

During the regular city council meeting last night the council touched on several topics;

WASHINGTON PAVILION’S DARRIN SMITH CLAIMS THEY NEED $5 MILLION IN RESERVES

The director/president/CEO of the Pavilion told councilors during the contract renewal last night that they needed a $5 Million dollar ‘reserve’ in case they have some struggles. While I would agree they do need a slush fund, most of those reserves should be in an endowment fund that earns money thru it’s investment. It is insane that the city continues to dump millions each year into the Pavilion for maintenance and operating while the Pavilion stuffs private and Federal contributions into a savings account. Councilors defended the reserve. Of course they did.

DOWNTOWN SIOUX FALLS BID TAX INCREASE HITS A SNAG

I do support the increase, which is actually very minimal to even the largest property owners DTSF;

Druley did not specify what Raven’s new assessment would be, although a 377% increase over the assessment’s current cap of $1,700 would come to $8,109.

I’m glad our local paper hasn’t taken away their reporters calculators . . . yet.

I find it shocking that TWO properties (Raven and Sunshine/Norberg Paints-which are in the same building) can have this sort of deferral control over the council. This was vetted by DTSF and after it was explained to me it is easy to understand and why NO OTHER downtown property owners that have valuations over $1 million have come out opposed to this;

Batcheller has said the change would affect 88 buildings in the district and bring in another $160,000 per year, and estimated that Cherapa Place’s expansion and the Sioux Steel district could account for another $115,000.

It’s really not that much money, but that didn’t stop the threats;

And she floated the threat of the company leaving the downtown area as well.

“Raven is accountable to its shareholders and its board, and it’s harder to justify its presence in downtown Sioux Falls as expenses increase relative to the benefit they get,” Druley said.

See yah later!

What was NOT mentioned by the council or Raven’s legal counsel is that Raven is no longer a locally owned business. It is now owned by a very, very, very, wealthy Italian family. I have assumed after the purchase that the new owners will look to consolidate and possibly leave Sioux Falls anyway and there is very little the city can do to stop it. I hope that doesn’t happen, but we have NO guarantees it won’t.

Also not factored into their crocodile tears is that Raven has benefitted from the millions of dollars taxpayers have invested in the River Greenway making more of an attractive workplace downtown. The promotion of DTSF has also benefitted Sunshine Foods, the only FULL SERVICE grocery store in the center of downtown. I have been shopping there for 30 years, and I have seen how the store has improved it’s image in step with DTSF improving it’s overall image.

Funny how the council will keel over when ONE hired gun lawyer makes veiled threats but when dozens of citizens show up to the meetings to oppose rezones, bunker ramps, etc., they ignore the warnings.

The council should have just voted YES last night to the increase and thanked Raven for their concerns. Talk about cutting off your nose to spite your face.

EFFORTS CONTINUE TO CLEAN UP THE BIG PIOUX

While I applaud the efforts, we can’t ignore the 700 pound turd floating down the river;

Entenman notes that 78 percent of the stream miles of the Big Sioux watershed – which is the size of New Jersey – are impaired, meaning the water quality doesn’t meet certain standards, either through contamination with E. coli or other issues, primarily from runoff – from agricultural practices to city streets and residential yards.

Unless you can get the property owners (mostly ag) along the Big Pioux to actively stop that runoff, you will NEVER be able to clean up that river.

“What is the point in putting multimillion-dollar buildings on the shores of the river if it’s polluted,” Entenman said.

I have asked that question for decades.

THE STATE LEGISLATURE AND CITY COUNCIL NEED TO PASS COMPREHENSIVE GUN CONTROL

After Noem and the state legislature’s right wing radicals approved open/concealed carry laws there has been a large increase in gun violence in the state’s largest city. I don’t think that is a coincidence;

Court records indicate Billion was shot with one of four stolen guns from the McKennan Park neighborhood. They were all taken from the same truck.

And there are ZERO consequences for the incredibly irresponsible gun owner, but they do have to live with the guilt, poor fella;

It’s something people have to live with and I’d say that’s one of the unintended consequences if you happen to leave your gun in an unlocked garage, car, house whatever it may be and it ends up stolen,” Sioux Falls Police Information Officer Sam Clemens said.

While I don’t think this reckless gun owner should go to jail, I do think they should face a very heavy fine and be banned from ever owning a gun. While the city has had ordinance bans on tobacco and alcohol use in our public parks, fines for not trimming your trees or scooping your sidewalks and bans on texting and driving the state legislature and city council seem to lack the courage to punish irresponsible gun owners when their stolen property is used to murder our citizens.

I am hoping with the influence the Billion family has in our community they would pressure the legislature, the governor and the city council to implement reasonable gun control laws so there is a least some consequences for not securing a deadly weapon.

A tax cut I can get behind!

Finally, the legislature is proposing a property tax cut this session;

“Because it would exempt the first $100,000 in valuation from taxing,” Ladner said. “Rather than a proportional cut, South Dakotans with smaller home value will get a bigger percentage tax cut from this mechanism.”

In Sioux Falls that would be about $1,500 a year tax break. Of course, I doubt this even gets out of committee considering towns, schools and counties will push back on it. It would help a lot of first time homebuyers getting into a starter home and the elderly on a fixed income.

City of Sioux Falls Finance Director claims not approving property tax increase would cause ‘structural deficit’

Them’s some fancy words from our chief finance bull thrower (FF 52:00)

So what is a structural deficit?

the amount by which a government’s spending is more than it receives in taxes in a particular period, whether the economy is performing well or not

Mr. Pritchett made this wild claim at the city council meeting last night, and six of the councilors agreed with him.

It is total nonsense.

As one citizen pointed out the way to not produce municipal debt is to budget better, in other words do the job we elected you to do. He also pointed out that this $2 million dollar increase is less than 1% of the total budget and can easily be made up.

The problem is for decades the city has implemented the piling on approach to building the yearly budget instead of doing zero based budgeting each year. This has caused bloated department budgets.

As for property taxes, valuations in Sioux Falls have skyrocketed over the past 3 years driving property taxes up with or without government intervention.

Even if the economy was doing great right now, this natural FREE market increase makes up for any inflationary increases we may need.

We also have given millions away in TIFs.

It cracks me up that the city council would nickel and dime $50K for the Siouxland Heritage endowment fund and $68K for an arts coordinator, but doesn’t blink an eye approving $50 million in TIFs for parking ramps attached to luxury condos.

That’s our council doing the important work, making sure developers, banksters and bondsters are happy and well fed.

I’m starting to think the only structural deficit the city has exists between the ears of our councilors.

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.

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.

Vote NO on Amendment C

The City of Sioux Falls is misappropriating surpluses

The biggest issue before the upcoming city election isn’t just affordable housing it is how the city is misappropriating millions in tax surpluses from 2021. (Item #86)

Typically surpluses from the previous year are not given out or appropriated in the following year until a financial report from that year is presented to the public and city council in a public meeting.

It should certainly NOT be given out before an election. The council, that normally controls the purse strings should have gotten the report and had public working sessions with public comment to determine how this money is to be spent, and it should have happened after the election.

Instead, the mayor is keeping information from some of the councilors and certainly from the public and secretly appropriating this money as booty prizes and then dropping it in councilors laps to approve. It’s a violation of the charter and certainly an ethical violation, it may even violate campaign rules.

In my humble opinion, with $74 million in surpluses the best way to spend this money is to give tax rebates to the core neighborhoods for property owners to spend it on home and neighborhood improvements (stipulated). Instead of complicated grants and added bureaucracy, just give it back to the taxpayers and have them decide how they will spend the money.

It’s bad enough we have been overtaxed, but to turn around and hide it from the council and public and to hand it out to the mayor’s special friends is just sickening, especially right before an election.

ENTIRE PDF OF PRESENTATION