Friday, April 8, 2011

Fishing for Fiscal Conservatism

In the March 19, 2011 Mayor's Listening Session, the mayor talked about the fact that the city ended 2010 without deficit spending in the General Fund and actually saved  almost $4 million in the CIP due to very aggressive bidding for projects in 2010. Side note: about half of that came from moving a large project out another year. But regardless, you have to give the city administration, made up of city employees, a pat on the back for working hard to bring in actual expenses that were below the budget and for their ability to prioritize without extreme sacrifices to city projects.

The mayor then went on saying this: "One of the things I have told you folks early on is that I am ..about as fiscally conservative of a person you are going to meet because of the way I grew up."

I wonder if he means personally fiscally conservative, being fiscally conservative as mayor, or both. Interesting comment considering he lives in a very exclusive neighborhood or drives two trucks, as he stated when commenting to a woman on her lack of  transit availability at the March 26, 2011 Listening Session at HyVee.  .

Oh yes, then there is that Voices column by Ellis in the Sunday Argus Leader where Ellis finally lets the cat out of the bag about those 16 acres of land the mayor bought and built another house so he could fish and relax. That little rumor has been floating out there for months. The way I heard it was he was building a house outside of Sioux Falls in preparation for his run for governor so he could say he was from someplace other than Sioux Falls. I am so relieved to hear the truth that he built it to relax and fish.

I don't begrudge anyone the financial good fortune to live well, to drive nice cars/trucks or build their dream home or lake getaway to relax and fish. Just don't tell me you, as the mayor, are about as fiscally conservative a person you will ever meet because of the way you grew up when your lifestyle doesn't demonstrate the conservative nature of your growing up years. It seems like an oxymoronic comment to me.

I hope his fiscally conservative nature proves true for the city of Sioux Falls as he moves forward with his Event Center recommendation to the City Council.  The financial package he must develop to fund his vision will impact the city's debt service for years to come, in addition to the prioritization of other infrastructure projects. His recommendation on where the Event Center will be built will impact the economic future of this city for years to come. And if the real meaning of "fiscal conservative" translates to "cheap" then the whole thing sounds like a very risky investment.

Time will tell how fiscally conservative this mayor will be during his term as mayor.


  1. I think wanting to spend $65,000 on a "naming rights" study rules Huether out as a "fiscal conservative."

  2. Right, everyone in politics not only wants to be more Religious than anyone else, but more Conservative. What ever that means.

    You are right about Conservatism regarding the event center. It was also AOL from the discussion about rebuilding the Storm Sewer in the central part of town a number of years ago. Another 40 Million, people and businesses that benefited paid Zero. Two large financial engines of this City, who likely, through their construction and may have been a contributor to the problem paid Zero. My bet is if each property owner was assessed 25% of what they should have, we would have had a much scaled back plan, not the Cadillac we got, with no property owner contribution. We are all paying for it. Right or Wrong.

    Also, AOL from the timing on the construction of the East side sanitary sewer district, another 40 some million, fairly large debt service.

  3. Oops, more news from City Hall. The City Engineer is moving out of the City Engineers Office to First Floor, in with Public Works Director, big remodeling, more conservatism and business acumen?

    We need a Piece on this. Help.

  4. Does it make any sense that we spend $30 grand to study the entire economic impact of the events center and now we spend over twice that to try to figure out if we can raise $15 or $25 million for it's naming rights?, and how much other things like the pavillion or the convention center might fetch? If the mayor is such a successful marketer, why is this even necessary on his signature project?

    TDS has already said "thanks, but no" and there's not too many other people who can or would cut that kind of check these days.