The first reading of the ordinance that calls for a special election on November 8, 2011 also stipulates what the ballot language shall be;
AN ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF SIOUX FALLS, SD, CALLING A SPECIAL
ELECTION ON THE ISSUE OF WHETHER THE CITY OF SIOUX FALLS, SD, SHOULD
BUILD A MULTIPURPOSE EVENTS CENTER AND ASSOCIATED SITE
BE IT ORDAINED BY THE CITY OF SIOUX FALLS, SD:
Section 1. Pursuant to the City’s Home Rule Charter, there is hereby called in the City of Sioux
Falls, SD, on Tuesday, November 8, 2011, between the hours of 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., a Special
Election for the purpose of submitting to the electors of the City of Sioux Falls, SD, the
Whether the City of Sioux Falls should build a multi-purpose Events Center and associated
site improvements (the “Project”) at a Project cost not to exceed one-hundred-fifteen
million dollars ($115,000,000.00).
This ordinance will not be adopted on Monday night because it is just first reading which sets the stage for a public hearing. 2nd Reading (Public Hearing) and adoption of this ordinance will occur at a future meeting. There is a proposed resolution on the agenda Monday night that actually addresses the proposed ballot language.
Per State law, the Notice of Special Election published by the City Clerk's office is to state the maximum amount of bonds to be issued and the purpose of the bonds to be issued. Why muddy up this ordinance with the ballot language at this point? The ballot language in this ordinance sets out a dollar amount that is still not known. Isn't the purpose of this ordinance to set the date of the "advisory" election? Why not say "advisory" in the ordinance heading?
In addition, there are two resolutions on the agenda Monday night related to the election and the proposed ballot language:
A RESOLUTION PROVIDING THAT A PROPOSAL TO CONSTRUCT AN EVENTS
CENTER AND ASSOCIATED SITE IMPROVEMENTS (THE “PROJECT”) WILL BE
SUBJECT TO THE APPROVAL OF THE VOTERS AT A SPECIAL ELECTION TO BE
HELD ON NOVEMBER 8, 2011.
WHEREAS, the City Council on this date approved Ordinance No. ________ authorizing
a special election to be held on November 8, 2011, to determine whether the public supports a
proposal to construct a multi-purpose events center in the City of Sioux Falls; and
WHEREAS, the City Council has determined that construction and financing of the
Project should not proceed without the support of the voters of this City,
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE CITY OF SIOUX FALLS, SD:
1. If the public approves proceeding with the Project by a simple majority vote, the
Council will consider the adoption of ordinances and resolutions, as appropriate, to approve (a)
the expenditure of funds to construct the Project, and (b) the issuance of bonds payable solely out
of second penny sales tax revenues to finance all or a portion of the costs of the Project.
2. If the public does not approve the Project, the current City Council will not take the
action described in paragraph 1.
This resolution is important because the November vote before the public is advisory only. The public has expressed concern about this "advisory" vote and whether the Mayor and City Council would honor the simple majority of the people. This proposed resolution provides the safety net that if the public doesn't approve the Event Center Project, the current City Council will not move forward with the necessary ordinances and resolutions to authorize the expenditures and issuance of bonds to construction the Event Center.
A RESOLUTION APPROVING THE FORM OF BALLOT, INCLUDING THE CITY ATTORNEY’S EXPLANATION, IN CONNECTION WITH THE ELECTION TO DETERMINE WHETHER THE CITY SHOULD CONSTRUCT AN EVENTS CENTER.
WHEREAS, the Sioux Falls City Council finds it desirable to hold an election to determine whether the voters of the City of Sioux Falls (the “City”) support building an Events Center.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE CITY OF SIOUX FALLS, SD:
Section 1. That the Official Special Election Ballot shall be in a form substantially as follows:
Sioux Falls November 8, 2011 South Dakota
OFFICIAL MUNICIPAL SPECIAL ELECTION BALLOT
Instruction to the Voter:
To vote on a ballot question
fill in the oval ( ) next to
“Yes” or “No.”
Use only a pencil.
The Sioux Falls City Council is considering the construction of a multi-purpose events center (the
“Project”) in the City of Sioux Falls. If the proposition is approved by the majority of those voting,
further action will be required by the City Council to issue sales tax revenue bonds to finance the
Project. No general obligation bonds will be issued.
There will be no new taxes, no increase in property taxes, and no increase in sales tax rates
authorized by the current City Council to pay for the Project.
The question submitted to the legal voters of the City of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, is as follows:
PROPOSITION TO BUILD AN EVENTS CENTER
Whether the City of Sioux Falls should build a multipurpose Events Center and
associated site improvements (the “Project”) at a Project cost not to exceed one-hundred fifteen million dollars ($115,000,000.00).
CITY ATTORNEY’S EXPLANATION
This election will advise the City Council as to whether the public supports proceeding with the Project. The City Council has selected the Sioux Falls Convention Center site as the site to build the Project. The Council has also adopted a resolution stating that it will not proceed with the Project if the proposal is not approved by a majority of those voting in this election.
The amount proposed to be spent refers to the cost of designing, constructing, equipping, and furnishing a multipurpose Events Center and associated site improvements (including architectural and engineering fees and expenses). Interest and other financing costs are additional costs that will be
incurred and are not included in the Project cost of designing, constructing, equipping, and furnishing a multipurpose Events Center and associated site improvements. Debt service reserves and other reserves are also not included in the Project costs. Project costs also do not include additional capital
improvements that may be incurred in future years.
In order to construct the Project, further action will be required by the City Council to allow the City to issue revenue bonds to be repaid from and secured solely by revenues from the existing second penny sales tax to finance all or a portion of the costs of the Project.
A vote “Yes” is for constructing the Project.
A vote “No” is against constructing the Project
This proposed resolution goes with the ordinance up for 1st reading on Monday night. Why would the City Council approve this resolution setting out the ballot language before the 2nd reading of the ordinance setting the date of the election and the ballot language? Doesn't this resolution need to be postponed and adopted when the city council adopts the ordinance authorizing the special election? The ordinance and this resolution seem to be out of sync with each other if both continue to contain the actual ballot language.
What exactly is the public voting on in November? If you read the "advisory" ballot language, both in the proposed ordinance and the resolution, the language asks the public if they support the construction of the Event Center at a cost not exceed $115M. Putting the $115M in the ballot means if the cost comes in more than that, then the City can't move forward with the construction of the Event Center? In other words, will the vote be binding on the $115M cost?
The city's construction manager has not submitted the actual "estimate" construction cost of the Event Center so who knows if the construction figure is $110M, $115M, or $120M or more for construction of the Event Center. Keep in mind, whatever the construction figure turns out to be, the total cost of the bond will be at least $10M or more to cover the reserve and cost to issue the bond.
Also, keep in mind that this vote scheduled in November is not binding, no matter what construction figure the city puts in the ballot language. Why put the cost in the ballot language to begin with? It is meaningless. Again, what is the purpose of the vote? What is it the city wants to know from the general public? It's simple isn't, it? Do you want to build an Event Center - yes or no? Simple and to the point.
If the vote result is yes, then the city would move forward with the resolution authorizing the issuance of the bonds at whatever cost they (the city and the construction manager) comes up with based on their designs. This would be the time when the construction amounts are important and necessary.
If the vote is no to build the event center, then it will all stop per the proposed resolution saying the construction of the event center is subject to the vote of the people and the process to build an Event Center will cease (for the time being).
The stage is set Monday night.