Thursday, November 3, 2011

Life in River City is Good? The Vote is Still No!

The big press is on with only 4 days before election day on the event center. Today, Tracy Turbak-City Finance Director has a voices column in the Argus Leader telling citizens that the construction of the event center will financed in the same manner as other significant investments of the city like the Law Enforcement Center, Harmodon Park, main library expansion, etc. That is true, the second penny sales tax is used to fund construction of major investments. However, not to the tune of the investment of this event center and not for 23 years.

I appreciate the fact that the city says we can afford to take on this debt. The city has always been in good financial condition and we have elected and city officials to thank for that. However, when they talk about obligating the 2nd penny sales tax for construction costs for 23 years, I wish they would also acknowledge that that same 2nd penny sales will have fund any ongoing maintenance and infrastructure needs that will occur over the life of this construction debt.

Tracy Turbak goes on to say the event center operating budget is be funded by revenues generated by the operation of the event center and revenues from private sources in the form of naming rights, sponsorships and premium seating. He states "Superlative Group, Inc. determined the city could reasonably expect to derive private annual revenues in the range of $975,000 to $1.875 million." These revenues will be used to help fund the day to day operating budget of the event center and are "largely the reason the events center has been projected to operate in the black."

I wish the city would also address the fact that we will have to fund two event centers and that the Arena is not going away. Two event centers competing for the same type of events, just on a different scale. Why is that absent from this discussion of the big picture?

The fact is no one can "reasonably expect" the event center will operate in the black, not even the company hired to by the city to evaluate the Sioux Falls market. Not even the mayor and the finance director. You can hope it will, you can "reasonable expect" it will, but when all the other "event/convention center" facilities don't operate in the black in the Sioux Falls market or in other cities and markets, it is kind of hard to "reasonably expect" the Event Center will operate in the black. I would actually feel more confidence in their whole plan if they would just admit some of this instead of their pie in the sky, the city is right with the world mentality.

This voices column is timed to assure the public not to worry, we can afford to do this. At the same time, the mayor has informed his mid-management people that they will be getting a 2% raise in 2012 by memo dated November 3rd. Some city employees haven't had a raise in 2 years or more.  Nice news for city employees, I think they deserve a modest raise. But after two years of being told to slash your budgets and no money for raises because benefits costs are too high and the economy was bad,  the timing of this good news message seems pretty suspect - 4 days before the election.  Votes!!!

19 comments:

  1. The only time I've heard the Mayor admit that the Events Center would have to be subsidized by the city was during the PBS interview with Bob Barclay. A yes or no question was asked by Andy. If the EC does not bring in enough revenue to support it will the city have to subsidize it? (I think I paraphrased it somewhat accurately) Since it was a yes or no question, the Mayor answered YES.

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  2. Well ofcourse that would be the correct answer, what other answer could he possibly give? What the hell is your point? He's not saying it will be subsidized, he's saying "if it doesn't generate enough revenue, it will need to be subsidized" per the question. There is only one possible answer to that question....kinda like asking when you stopped beating your wife, it's a no win answer scenario.

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  3. Stop pitting one facility against another, you clearly don't know anything about managing facilities like this and have never done it. If you had attended the SMG/Global Spectrum press conference this morning in an effort to truly be open minded, you would have heard the pro's talk about how one easily works in tandem with the other and actually support one another, like in many other cities. Your bias is sickening and you don't have any expertise regarding those things you weigh in on for your followers, that's the epitome of irresponsibility in my opinion.

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  4. How many other cities of like size as ours have two events centers sitting side by side? That to me is the height of irresponsibility. Thank you Jennifer, for bringing up all these topics for your readers to mull over. I for one really like your blog and believe you are very responsible. You give your readers things to think about as we make our decision on this vote.

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  5. @12:59pm: How do you know she doesn't have any expertise? Do you know ALL of her work experience and history and everything that she has ever been involved in? Highly unlikely. Why don't you stop making assumptions? You know what they say when you assume things.

    BTW, how will the two facilities work in tandem with each other? The only scenario I could see this happening is if it is a convention that uses both facilities. Since you know everything, please enlighten all of us who don't have an open mind.

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  6. Sorry ANONYMOUS coward at 12:59....it's personal attack dog comments like this that make me want to shout NO at the top of my lungs. Kudos Jennifer for sane reasonable writing!

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  7. The City's midmanagement staff will readily see through the Mayor's attempt to buy their votes. After a year and a half of living with threats, intimidation and little understanding or regard for what they do, I sincerely doubt many of the City's highly qualified and intelligent professional staff will be unduly influenced by a 2% raise, especially with their budgets slashed and positions lost.

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  8. 1) Want answers on how they work together, call Terry at SMG. 2) As a courtesy to Jennifer, I'll ask the question, Jennifer have you ever managed a large public facility on a day to day basis like an SMG or Global Spectrum? 3) Yes, Daydream Corgis, the Mayor rigged the timing of all the unions voting on their contracts to coincide with the election (not)....Jennifer, as former HR director you should know better.

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  9. It always amazes me when I see Superlative's numbers......975,000 - 1,875,000.

    That's a spread of $900,000 annually....
    and for this we as taxpayers paid Superlative a $65,000 consulting fee!!!

    In addition, what Tracy Turbeck's Voices piece does not say is that the Quality of Life Bonds I and II are both for smaller amounts and shorter durations.

    New Events Center:

    Total Capital Cost $183 million.

    Operating Costs...Unknown/No Guarantees.

    And having our city's Director of Finance promise no tax increases for the next 22 years............ABSURD!!

    My vote is a resounding NO.

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  10. Why is there so much anxiety over "anonymous" comments on this blog? Actually, let me take that back, it's just the perceived argumentative commenters that are encouraged to "pull their big boy pants up". Nine out of ten comments on this blog are anonymous. Of those, less than one of those nine are actually looking to stir the pot. The remaining eight are never even mentioned in the rants against "gutless, nameless cowards".

    Even further, this is the internet, it's 99.99% anonymous. Very few people put forth much effort to make 100% of their activity online completely transparent. This could be due to several factors: 1- They just don't care if you know who they are IRL (or not) and therefore won't make the effort; 2- They're not looking to provide a trail of breadcrumbs for anyone to shape a profile of them based on their internet usage; 3- Their employment or social situation doesn't allow them to freely make public comments about certain subjects without some sort of repercussion; or 4- They're bad actors/trolls/trouble makers and don't wish to be outed.

    Then there are always technical difficulties. My default browser will not let me comment on this blog. At all. It simply eats anything I type into the box. I have to make further effort to open another browser (that is outdated and I never use) to post a comment. Then, since the browser is outdated, the page is all-out-of-whack and doesn't display properly. That being the case, when I select "Name/URL" it gives me nothing to enter a name or a site (the same is true of the other options). My only choice, to post a comment, is "anon".

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  11. One more thing, even if Mike Huether himself posted on this blog, and used his name, how many would believe it? Again, this is the internet, where anyone can be anybody, and a healthy dose of skepticism is a good idea.

    I'd be willing to bet that there's something in the blog settings that would rule out "anonymous" being an option. If there's that much of a problem, maybe it should be considered. Then again, this blog would only get one or two comments per post, since far-and-away the current majority are of this "anonymous" scourge-of-the-earth variety.

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  12. A city employee that is voting no.November 3, 2011 at 4:04 PM

    Most employees at the city know that mid management got raise notification only after union negotiations were done . Have the unions settled their new contracts yet?

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  13. @1:22 For this whole picture to actually turn out as rosy as the Mayor wants us all to believe we have to go from ZERO to 34 days a year of flat floor events that need a footprint larger than our current Arena & Convention Center combined. The only event that's ever been thrown out is Pheasants Forever and that is a 20K person event. Where the Hell will all those people stay? We currently have 400 decent rooms on site and a couple hundred more within a mile radius. The new Hotel downtown is 100 rooms at a cost of $20 million...even a new 500 room on site would cost as much as as the Events Center itself by the time you add in the ramp and/or the tunnel under Russell. Get that done and your still way short unless you are asking the PF attendees to stack 4-5 sets of bunk beds in each room.

    Let's say we do land PF, would they come back or would they be like the Soccer tourney last year that told us to get bent because their families didn't like staying in Brookings and Sioux City? And if we do land PF, we only need 10 more 3-day events just like it to hit the target. Tell me how that's remotely possible?

    This kind of crap the Mayor and his crew are trying to pass off is what will drive people to vote no and Jennifer's Musings has nothing to do with the crap sandwich that voters are being asked to swallow.

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  14. I like how people sign their names on the SdCola blog. Oh, right, they are just as anonymous as "anonymous" on here. Who cares!! The only thing I don't like are the personal attacks against blog writers when someone doesn't like the subject. Geez, people, she says it's her opinion. Take it or leave it, write a response to the subject matter or not. just stick to your opinion about the subject. She must be hitting a nerve to somebody out there to cause all this venom.

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  15. Fire department got a 0% for two years...Police got 0 for 2012 and 2 % for 2013...afscme got 2% for 12 and 13 after getting the goos egg for the last two years. The Mayor refused to to go for any 3 year contracts with the unions because of his fear of the unstable economy. However he is willing to ranson our futures for 22 years. "Kids, you get nothing cuz Daddy wants a shiny new sports car with personalized license plates"

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  16. I'm voting no to keep the black eyed peas out of town.

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  17. @7:43pm, You certainly sound like you have intimate knowledge of the negotiations, the kind of knowledge that only HR and city employees could have. So let me say this to give everyone here something to think about when they are feeling sorry for the whining city employees - the past 2 years+ has seen virtually all employees in the private sector take pay cuts, forced furlough days (unpaid days off), and layoffs.....meanwhile, in that same timeframe, you know how many city employees took pay cuts? NONE. You know how many city employees had unpaid furlough days forced upon them? NONE. You know how many city employees lost their jobs? NONE. That's right, NONE. Stop crying.

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  18. @1243 I'm sory how many days were you laid off? Where do you work? How does the events center affect you? How much did your wage get cut? If you suffered more damage than any whining city employee, you should realize that the economy is not ready for a white elephant. If things are rosey and everyone is prospering, lets buiild the m'fer. If you have been affected like the whining city employees, maybe you should vote no. You just supported NO more than anyone AND you are too stupid to realize it.

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  19. I am voting NO so the Black Eyed Peas get a chance to play downtown!

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