Tuesday, July 19, 2011

2012-2016 Mayor's Recommended CIP Observations Series #1

The Mayor presented the 2012-2016 Recommended Capital Improvement Plan. I decided to take a look at this recommended plan versus the current 2011-2015 CIP to see where priorities have shifted and where the programmed sales tax funding is going to be spent in the future. Here are some of my observations:
  • The Indoor Aquatics Development project to be located at the Spellerberg Park location received a funding boost in the recommended plan. It went from $814,000 programmed in 2015 to $5.8 million in total funding in the recommended 2016 CIP. Construction is programmed to begin in 2014. It went from a priority ranking of 43 to project priority #2. This project will replace the current Spellerberg Pool with either an indoor or outdoor family aquatic facility. An indoor facility is a high priority for the Park Board. The City of Sioux Falls Recreation Needs Assessment completed in April 2011 showed that 60% of the respondents felt a need for an indoor aquatics facility. The project justification states the Park department will gauge public demand through neighborhood meetings and feedback coming at large.

  • The Indoor Ice Facility Project had $500,000 programmed in 2014. This project has increased to $1.5 million, programmed in plan year 2013 in the mayor's new recommended plan. This project went from priority ranking #38 to priority ranking #7. The Ice Sports Association will obtain a 99 year lease from Sanford Health to build a facility within the Sanford Sports Complex. The programmed sales tax money will be used to purchase equipment with the city maintaining control of the assets. In return, the public will have use of the facility. Does this arrangement mean the city will be on the hook for future equipment needs of this facility? Will this be an ongoing expense for taxpayers? What exactly does public use of the facility mean to the general public?

  • The $500,000 programmed in plan year 2014 in the current CIP for the Indoor Tennis facility has been moved up to program year 2013 in the mayor's recommended CIP. The SF Tennis Association is expected to obtain a 99 year land lease from Sanford Health to build a facility within the Sanford Sports Complex to be built in northeast Sioux Falls.  The $500,000 sales tax money will be used to buy equipment and construct improvements within the facility. The project description says the city will retain ownership of the equipment and improvements constructed in the facility and in return the public can use the facility year round by agreement between the city and the SF Tennis Association. This is kind of a cozy relationship, considering the "first lady" of Sioux Falls is the executive director of the SF Tennis Association. Does this also mean that the city will be on the hook for all equipment, now and in the future? What about those construction improvements? What kind of improvements are we talking about here? What exactly does public use mean? Is that free use by the public. I doubt it. I doubt this will be a one time cost to the city but more likely an ongoing expense. Questions should abound regarding this use of sales tax dollars from the city council regarding this project.  This project was ranked priority #37 in the current plan and is priority #6 in the recommended plan.
The Indoor Aquatics Development CIP project is very different from the Indoor Ice Facility CIP project and the Indoor Tennis Facility CIP project in that the Indoor Aquatics project is directly in line with the parks and recreation aquatics plans throughout the city. Spellerberg Pool is the oldest pool in the city and is in need of replacement. It is appropriate to look at both indoor and outdoor development possibilities. Aquatics is a program service funded by sales tax to the general public as evidenced by Laurel Oaks Pool, Terrace Park, Drakes Springs, Frank Olson, Pioneer Spray Park, etc.

The ice faclility project and the indoor tennis facility project are very different, however. Both of these projects are spearheaded by associations. I understand public/private partnerships. However, these two associations provide sports activities to a very specific group of people, not to the general public as a whole. A one time public support of taxpayer funds is one thing, but should the taxpayers be on the hook for equipment needs and construction improvements to their facilities indefinitely into the future to support these two facilities? There should be serious questions asked and answers given regarding these two projects before the city council approves any public/private partnership money for this two private endeavors.



      1. Indoor hockey? Indoor pool? Didn't we already tell the city what we thought of those two ideas? Guess that's why we won't see these two indoor ventures on a ballot. And indoor tennis? Has anyone seen your man mike play? Needs all the indoor help he can get.


      2. It's not for the mayor, it's for his wife.

      3. More kids involved in hockey than in tennis. Had to put hockey in there so it didn't look totally like favoritism when mayor added funding for his wife's pet project, the tennis association. Have to agree. Private associations and nice to have these facilities but a one time city donation maybe, IF we have the money, but not an ongoing obligation for 99 Years! These projects sure got moved up fast in priority. Method to his madness, tring to drum up support for himself.

      4. I understand public/private partnerships. However, these two associations provide sports activities to a very specific group of people, not to the general public as a whole.

        Right on. Tennis for instance. 2000 people (how many from SF would be a wild guess) pay dues to the Sioux Falls Tennis Association. Yet every citizen of SF will help with a one time donation, AND upkeep for years to come? For a fabric dome? Think Metrodome. Think sinkhole. Do I as a contributor to this black hole get any consideration for playing time IF I were so inclined? Sure...but get in line. From the SFTA website.

        "Do you have to be a member to play?

        No, you would not have to be a member to play but club memberships would be available. Members would have privileges over guests. Such privileges would be the ability to make a court reservation 7 days in advance instead of a 4 day advance reservation. Members could reserve permanent court time, sign up for leagues earlier, have preferred league times, pay a lower rate for lessons and leagues."

        Yeah, Joe SixPack pays for yet another program that requires membership to have any chance to participate in.

        It will be even a worse scenario for hockey. Think your kid can afford to play hockey? Call the youth hockey office and see how much it costs just to suit up.

        Polly Amalo.

      5. The Guy from GuernseyJuly 26, 2011 at 3:42 PM

        RE: 'This project was ranked priority #37 in the current plan and is priority #6 in the recommended plan.'

        The vanity and hubris of this guy ... and his family ... has no bounds !

        I guess he only slipped the project forward by one year (from 2014 forward to 2013). Git 'r done by the time HisManMike (TM) completes his first term ... cuz there will not be a second term.