Entries Tagged 'Taxes' ↓

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.


Mayor TenHaken’s April Fool’s Joke

During Poops regularly scheduled monthly appearance* on the Belfrage show he said that just because your appraised value of your home may go up 18% that doesn’t mean your taxes will go up that much. This is true. But what he said next must have been his sad attempt at an April’s Fool’s joke. He proceeded to say that some people’s taxes may go down. Hilarious stuff. The only case where this could even be true is if you move into a special category next year that would qualify you for a tax reduction (senior, disabled veteran, etc.). The only entities in Sioux Falls that are getting (massive) tax breaks are the welfare queen Tifilicious developers and we are all paying higher taxes because of it. My taxes going down . . . my ass!

*This was Greg’s BS excuse to not make it sound like a FREE campaign advert.

The City of Sioux Falls is swimming in money

As the city council discussed giving $10 million towards the DSU Cyber project tonight and after watching the presentations and seeing the state supports this, I think it is a good project. Not sure I believe all the bull thrown about today, but it is a positive investment. I did shake my head though when the Dean of DSU was talking about what the $10 million investment in infrastructure was for and said something like, “It’s for campus lights and sidewalks, but we don’t know what that will cost since the final plans haven’t been drawn up yet.” So where did the $10 million number come from?

But what shocked me was these slides presented by the city finance director. Fortunately I took a screenshot, because these slides are NOT available online. The city has millions laying around in the reserve funds.

It is unfortunate the council was not told this last month so they could come up with projects (like cleaning up our core, or even better, CUTTING PROPERTY TAXES FOR ALL OF US! Instead the mayor, who hates transparency, hid the information from the council so he could push his pet projects, so far spending $12.5 million of it, with NO input from council except a vote once it was packaged in a neat little bow.

Whether you agree or disagree with the bonuses or the cyber project is of little concern, it is how the mayor secretly negotiated these projects that is very bad for good government.

Does the Sioux Falls City Council already have the power to give property tax cuts?

As l learned on Wednesday there is probably going to be proposed legislation next year that could change TIFs to apply to residential housing. But does the city have to wait for Pierre to make a move?

I don’t think so.

There are already things the city has been doing or are planning on doing;

• A home buying program for police officers and firefighters

• The city can give property tax rebates to homeowners, I think the last mayor to do this city wide was Hanson

• The mayor gives yearly tax rebates to dozens of developers and big employers

• Community development loans either low interest or no interest and federal grants associated with the program

• Councilors Pat Starr and Curt Soehl are exploring elderly property tax rebates

The city council only likely has the power to rebate the city’s portion of the property tax, but over a period of 5-10 years, that is significant savings.

I don’t think the city has to wait for state law to change, I think they have the power right now to start a city property tax rebate program for people who want to buy a home in our core that needs rehabilitation, in fact they could have started this program 20 years ago if they wanted to.

I have been a proponent for over a decade that the city engages in a pilot program in our core that rehabs entire neighborhoods with a combination of public works (streets, sewer, water, lighting, sidewalks, curb and gutter) and individual property owners with fixing up their property with the use of Federal grants, community development loans and city property tax rebates.

So why doesn’t the city pursue this? I don’t have that answer, but if I had to guess it has to do with developer greed and the elite structure of leadership in our city.

So when someone tells you it is hard to rehab poorer neighborhoods in our city because of ‘laws’ I just don’t believe them. The city council in conjunction with the mayor’s office and planning department have all the tools they need to start on a pilot program like this, but their hatred of the working poor is getting in the way of their handouts to the welfare developers.

The Truth about SD Trusts

(H/T to a SouthDacola Foot Soldier who sent me this)

I will admit I learned a lot about SD Trusts listening to Terry Prendergast in this podcast. While Terry points out many great things about trusts that the media hasn’t mentioned, he still can’t convince me that they are good for the average South Dakotan.

While they do create jobs, can be held by anybody with wealth or inheritance, are free from state income taxes and help feed the Federal coffers they still leave me with a lingering question, “How does have $500 billion of someone else’s wealth in South Dakota benefit the average South Dakotan?” It doesn’t. And in a round about way, Terry brings it up. He does admit it is a legal tax shelter (not evasion) does benefit the state with bank financing fees, but also admits there is no actual tax dollars coming into the coffers.

While I appreciate him clearing up a lot of questions, even to go so far as saying nothing nefarious is going on (which is true) I have to disagree with him on the benefit of having them here. While SD Trusts are not illegal, and are being ran with the highest standards, at the end of the day I ask why the state legislature is so eager to pass laws beneficial to a select group of people that live out of our state while having very little benefit to South Dakotans?

If the state legislature really wanted to make an impact with legislation, they would focus on its citizens instead of Kings, Drug Traffickers and Dictators (legally) hiding their money in South Dakota (and an occasional farmer).

UPDATE II: Sioux Falls City Council Agenda, Nov 2, 2021 & the mysterious property tax inquiry

UPDATE II: As I suspected one of Poops campaign rats called in the agenda posting. Supposedly this required the city clerk to ask all the councilors if they were going to attend and since quorum said they might, it was put on the docket. As I have already said before, I encourage all candidates to invite the entire council to their events and call the clerk’s office to have it put on the agenda calendar. Just make sure it is one of your greasy campaign rats, you wouldn’t want to demean yourself with such menial tasks.

UPDATE: I found out the tax inquiry has to do with a proposal by councilors Starr and Soehl about (city) property tax relief to the elderly, and if it is possible to give them a rebate if a program was formed.

As for the posting of a campaign fundraising event, I was sent this;

1-25-1. Official meetings open to public–Exceptions–Public comment–Violation as misdemeanor.

The official meetings of the state and its political subdivisions are open to the public unless a specific law is cited by the state or the political subdivision to close the official meeting to the public.

It is not an official meeting of one public body if its members provide information or attend the official meeting of another public body for which the notice requirements of § 1-25-1.1 or 1-25-1.3 have been met. It is not an official meeting of a public body if its members attend a press conference called by a representative of the public body.

For any event hosted by a nongovernmental entity to which a quorum of the public body is invited and public policy may be discussed, but the public body does not control the agenda, the political subdivision may post a public notice of a quorum, in lieu of an agenda. The notice of a quorum shall meet the posting requirements of § 1-25-1.1 or 1-25-1.3 and shall contain, at a minimum, the date, time, and location of the event.

The public body shall reserve at every regularly scheduled official meeting a period for public comment, limited at the public body’s discretion, but not so limited as to provide for no public comment. At a minimum, public comment shall be allowed at regularly scheduled official meetings which are designated as regular meetings by statute, rule, or ordinance.

Public comment is not required at official meetings held solely for the purpose of an inauguration, swearing in of newly elected officials, or presentation of an annual report to the governing body regardless of whether or not such activity takes place at the time and place usually reserved for a regularly scheduled meeting.

If a quorum of township supervisors, road district trustees, or trustees for a municipality of the third class meet solely for purposes of implementing previously publicly-adopted policy, carrying out ministerial functions of that township, district, or municipality, or undertaking a factual investigation of conditions related to public safety, the meeting is not subject to the provisions of this chapter.

A violation of this section is a Class 2 misdemeanor.

While I will admit they may be squeaking by on the legality of this, I do ask some followups. Notice the word ‘may’. In other words, there was NO requirement that this should be posted. On the basis of this argument, that means anyone running for city office moving forward should or could post their fundraising events on this calendar because there could be a quorum coming to the event. I challenge anyone running for the city ballot to post all of their public events whether they are fundraisers or not to ask the city clerk’s office to have that event placed on the city council’s agenda calendar.

I also question if this was truly a public event. Yes, the public was invited, BUT, there was a fee to enter the event. Does this still make it public? Sure. But you could argue that if a quorum of city councilors are attending a Stampede Game that, that should be posted on the council’s agenda. Or maybe a quorum was attending a Levitt concert? Maybe that should be on the agenda.

Let’s face it folks, their was NO legal requirement for Paul’s campaign to post this. While it doesn’t violate any laws, it certainly is questionably ethical.

I will have to admit, when I normally peruse the agendas I can usually figure out WTF is going on, or at least have a teeny-tiny idea. I will admit though, Item #6, Approval of Contracts, Sub-Item #38, has me baffled;

City Attorneys, Engagement Agreement for City’s Authority to Provide Property Tax Relief, Davenport, Evans, Hurwitz & Smith, LLP, $5,000.00

So there are a few things I do know. Our City Attorney’s office has been incompetent, ill prepared and ignorant of municipal law for years and depending on outside counsel for a whole host of things they know nothing about. I have often joked we should just have a purchase agent and paralegal in the office to save taxpayers money.

What I don’t know is why they have to have outside counsel give them advice on how to ‘legally’ give property tax relief. If you think this is about you and me, you are sadly mistaken.

Like I said, I have no idea what they are up to, but if I was a guessing man, this has to do with making the property tax breaks to the ones that mostly don’t deserve it, more accessible and more secretive. But that is just a guess.

Also notice in the calendar below, from the City of Sioux Falls website that candidate TenHaken has violated campaign rules and probably several city ethical rules by listing a fundraising event for his campaign on the official calendar of the city. How did this even get on there?!?!

More on Trusts in South Dakota

I will admit, it was refreshing to read this humorous article about South Dakota Trusts. It all starts with some digs on Noem, EB-5, Gear-Up, etc.;

Corey Lewandowski. Read it all here: (The BulwarkThe Daily Beast) BTW, Ian Fury, Noem’s official spokesperson, said “Corey was always a volunteer, never paid a dime (campaign or official).” To which I instantly responded, “So, you are saying that he did it for love.”

Is that what Repugs call love? Unfortunately, YES!

Now I am proud to say that in one way, I actually broke this story, on SleuthSayers, back on June 20, 2012. It’s just that no one listened. As the once and (probably) future AG Marty Jackley once told me, “Call me when there’s a crime.”

I think Jackboots had that line disconnected after Dep SOS Pitty Pat and SOS Jason Gunt left office.

Unless you live under a rock or are dumber than* our governor (or related to her) you know that the Trusts don’t benefit average South Dakotans one iota, it doesn’t even benefit main street or the government coffers in Pierre. There is a select group of banksters, bondsters and all around scammers making money from this and the cavemen and Betty Rubbles running our state house don’t have a clue about the laws they are passing.

I can feel all that liberty and freedom making me dumber by the minute.

Lincoln County Tax Levy Vote proves local officials are NOT doing the work of the people

I do agree that it was only an 8% voter turnout, but either way, it was a blowout. I have felt for a long time that both County Commissions, the City Council and the School Board are NOT listening to what the citizens want, or in this case, don’t want. They simply show up and vote for tax increases on the minions so they can turn around and give contracts or tax breaks to the welfare queen developers, banksters and bonders.

The system is rigged.

We no longer have representative government in the Sioux Falls Metro Area or even in the state. This is what happens when you have one-party rule by authoritarians who only serve the ruling class. Don’t believe me? A majority of all of the members of all of these governing bodies are Republican. I think the only members that are registered Democrat are Pat Starr, Jeff Barth and Kate Parker (there may be a couple more, but they ain’t telling anyone.)

The irony of the Tax Levy revolt is that it was spearheaded by Republican voters! That is why it still baffles me they continue to vote for the very representatives that don’t listen to them.

I told an older Democrat not to long ago that no matter who the majority party in local government bodies is, you will continue to get tax and fee increases. The difference is the Dems will spend it on the citizens and the Repugs will spend it on their welfare queen developer bankster buddies.

Mayor’s Discretionary Funds, 2008-2018

Here are the Mayor’s Discretionary Funds (slush fund) starting in 2008. Remember, the last mayor hid it from the public and council and while the council got to see it after his term it still doesn’t make it right.

From my assumptions so far the money comes from the general fund (1st or 2nd Penny) and it is signed off by ONE person, the Mayor. I can’t find anywhere in city ordinance that this is approved by anyone else but the mayor. It may go through a review process, but as far as I can tell the applicants probably work through the Development Foundation and the Chamber and then the Planning Department. But at the end of the day the mayor doesn’t have to approve a single application . . . but he does . . . in the dark of the night.

(Click to enlarge)