Thursday, October 27, 2011

Councilors Jamison, Brown spell out “Ten Things You Should Know Before You Vote November 8th” on events center

In a news conference this morning, Sioux Falls City Councilors Greg Jamison and Vernon Brown outlined “Ten Things You Should Know Before You Vote November 8th.”

Their goal is to make sure voters can make an informed decision on the current events center proposal. Both are concerned that key pieces of information are not being fairly presented to voters.

1.       This Vote is About Funding Priorities – streets, fire stations, parks, libraries, transit OR an events center. Whatever we spend on an events center’s principle and interest payment is money that will NOT go to future streets, fire stations, parks, libraries or the transit system because the events center will be funded from the same limited source – our second penny sales tax. It’s also concerning that there’s no fund identified to pay for the ongoing maintenance of the facility.

2.       Consider What Cuts You Would Make - If Sioux Falls built the events center five years ago and we started making the full loan payments of $9 million, we would need to cut some of the projects we’re completing this year. For example we would have had to consider cutting projects such as:

·          10th & Cliff intersection for $1.8 million

·         41st street overlay for $1 million

·         Reconstruction of 57th to Tea Ellis road for $2.5 million

·         And reconstruction of River Boulevard for $3 million

3.       Construction Costs Are Going up on All Projects – It’s not just the events center price tag that will go up. The cost of all critical city construction projects is likely to go up. So again it comes back to priorities for Sioux Falls.  What investments do you want us to make right now.

4.       No New Taxes for Events Center Because We Can’t  -  Like almost all South Dakota cities, Sioux Falls is at the maximum tax level allowed by state law. We can’t raise taxes because it’s against the law. All the money is coming from one source - the 2nd penny sales tax we’ve reserved for streets, fire stations, libraries, transit and other projects.

5.       We’re Not Replacing the Arena - The Arena stays in play. The events center is an additional building at that complex, but there is no new planned re-use of the existing Arena. We will be competing with ourselves and will have to maintain both venues with taxpayer dollars. Plus, we have identified critical improvements to the Arena, but not identified funding to take care of it.

6.       The Parking Plan Doesn’t Consider Multiple Events – The plan does not consider simultaneous events at the events center, Arena, Convention Center, Pheasants Stadium and Howard Wood Field. The parking plan is designed for a single event at the events center.

7.       How Will Sioux Falls Pay For Population Growth – Experts predict our city will grow at the rate of three-thousand people a year – that’s 8 people a day. That means more houses, streets, fire stations, libraries, parks and other infrastructure will be needed – much of which is funded out of the second penny sales tax. But the plan is counting on sales tax growth paying for the evenst center debt for the next 22 years. Plus we have Master Plans for Falls Park, the River Greenway and the zoo and there’s not enough funding in the Capital Improvement Plan to complete those plans.

8.       We’re Borrowing 100% of the Money – Construction costs will be $115 million, but we will have to borrow $125 million to cover the issuance cost of bonds. We will be borrowing every dime of it – no down payment. It also means we’ll be paying $60 to $70 million in interest expense.

9.       We Do Not Have One Tenant Signed – Not one semi-pro athletic team has signed an agreement to use the facility. And if they do, that means the Arena loses rent. Now the primary tenants are identified as big conventions, conferences, and tradeshows. In 2010 these events represented only 16 percent of the event mix of the convention center.

10.    We Can Create a Better Plan – November 8th is not your last chance for an event center. If you decide you’re not comfortable with $125 million dollars of debt, we can work together to create a more affordable plan for Sioux Falls so you can comfortably vote YES. Jamison and Brown offer two ideas.

·         Arena Replacement Fund - The Council could set aside money each year to build up to a 10 to 15 percent down payment on our entertainment venue to help lower interest expense.

·         Strive  to make existing subsidized entertainment venues self sustaining - Work with the Arena, Pavilion, Zoo, Orpheum Theater and Convention Center to acquire naming rights so tax dollars don’t subsidize them. Then we can be honest with voters by saying we can build a self sustaining event center in Sioux Falls.

·         And then once the Pavilion and Convention Center are paid off and self sustaining the Entertainment Tax could help fund construction of a future events center.

Jamison and Brown tell voters not to let anyone convince them they’re not progressive or not supporting Sioux Falls’ future just because they can’t comfortably say yes to this vote. It’s OK to say they want a better plan.


  1. Interesting that the Argus Leader at this time (5:30pm 10/27/11) has this story buried so you can't see it, but the "potty parity" story is still running. Just who bought them off? Everyone should cancel their subscription to the AL and let them know the newspaper's job is to run the news - unbiased. They have really lost a lot of people with this ridiculous endorsement of the mayor and his plan.

  2. I had not thought about the Arena and new EC competing against each other for events and ongoing operational expenses at two "arenas" if it's built. I like the idea of replacing the current arena with a new EC. Thank you to these two Councilors for speaking up and making points that make sense to vote no. I just wish they would have done it earlier. Better late than never though.

  3. Councilors Jamison and Brown are so right on point. Just what is going to fill the Arena calendar IF the hockey and foot ball teams move to the new EC ? Now we have an even emptier calendar at the Arena and more city subsidy will be needed for that facility. It's an ugly scenario that will only spell financial disaster to the city's budget and need for more taxpayer money. What a vicious cycle.

  4. I did not know that the 2nd penny sales tax was going to be used, which was designated for streets, libraries, fire stations, etc. I have always been against using the 1st or 2nd penny sales tax for anything other than these uses.

  5. Anonymous 5:39 - I wondered the same thing about the placement of the story. It is obvious the Argus is trying to bury it. Saw Mike with Rick Knobe at a resturant tonight. Wonder if Mike is recruiting another cheerleader for this project that is going to drain CIP improvements for years to come.

  6. Amazing that two of the most experienced are the only council members to see the faults in Hether's flawed plan.

  7. Goes to prove you don't need to raise 60K from First Premier or 50K from Sanford to get the word out on a good plan. This has been the WORST sales job I've seen since "New Coke". This plan fails because it's a bad plan and the sales job has been pathetic. Press conferences on toilets? Our city officials just look like fools now. I can't stand that I'm paying for their time to work on these pathetic topics. Develop my community, stop talking about where I'm supposed to go pee in building we haven't even decided to build yet.

  8. It's pretty lame that Sue and Michelle wouldn't hang with these two on this issue. Hope whatever they got to jump was worth it.

  9. I'd also imagine having the four councilors that voted for one location over another standing together might distract from the overall point that the financial arrangement is bad. They (Erpenbach and Aguilar) may have participated in this discussion behind the scenes. But to have all four at this press conference would have just brought out all the "This is just sour grapes over location" comments, which happened anyway.

  10. Given the fact that Jamison and Brown are good friends of Debra Owen.........

    AND, Aguilar and Erpenbach played a VERY large role in her termination....

    I can certainly understand why they may not even have been invited to join Brown and Jamison!!

  11. The mayor is no fool. He worked for a bank which got it's money from member banks fractional reserve. He knows why bank buildings are the largest buildings in town. They have 10 to 30% in reserves. The 70 to 90% of the principle is profit not counting interest. He's friends with the Minneapolis federal reserve chairman. His cut is 10% of the principle in silver to his offshore Swiss account, then he's out of here when the market crashes. He's just covering for his family.
    It's an old trick - the banker goes in as Mayor or Governor, sells the big projects and gets the principle kickback and causes inflation taking you down at the same time.