City Council Talks With Residents Over Coffee
by Betsy Jibben, Reporter
November 23, 2013 5:25 PM
Sioux Falls City Council members took a break from their normal routines and instead talked city issues and politics with residents over a cup of coffee.
About a dozen Sioux Falls residents met at Carnegie Town Hall Saturday morning sharing their questions and concerns with the City Council. They talked about property taxes, re-zoning laws and fatal fires. But one topic was on the minds of many.
The City of Sioux Falls has what some would say is a good problem to have.
Several weeks ago, the US Army Corps of Engineers reimbursed the city with nearly $10 Million. But the question that keeps arising is: what should the city do with the money?
"I don't think myself or the other City Council members are in a big hurry to spend this money. Most of us are pretty comfortable to wait and see and look at options," said City Council member, Dean Karsky.
Several weeks ago, the Federal Government paid back the money that was loaned by the city to build a new levee system. It’s money, council members never thought they would see.
Each member has ideas of where it should go. Council member Dean Karsky says he knows the city will undergo future projects that will ultimately have them borrowing approximately $58 Million in bonds. They are projects anywhere from city street projects to building a new indoor pool.
"Whether we re-pay the bond issue back for the levees or we use that money to reduce what we have to borrow in the future, to me, either one of those is acceptable," said Karsky.
Karsky says if it is used for future projects, it won't be decided until next year.
But there's no harm in saving it for a rainy day.
"Bad things can happen and we lost a portion of our sewer a couple of years ago. In emergency situations, having that money in the bank right now, I think most of us are comfortable with that,” said Karsky.
Council Member Kermit Staggers says his number one priority is helping the citizens of Sioux Falls.
“What we should be striving to do is to help everybody in Sioux Falls. One part to do that is in regard to property taxes," said Karsky.
Staggers says every year there's an increase in property taxes. He's says more and more people are having a hard time paying them.
"What we need to do is rather modest. Maybe it’s one year of a no property tax increase. Maybe we can strive for two years,” said Sioux Falls City Council member, Kermit Staggers.
Staggers says putting money towards other future projects like a new dog park doesn't benefit everyone in the city.
"Most in Sioux Falls are paying property taxes on their homes and businesses. This would be greatly beneficial,” said Staggers.
Staggers also suggests using a portion of the money to help citizens who have lost their healthcare pay medical bills for one year.
Another idea is to pay off the bonds used to build the levees. There is no deadline for when council members need to decide what to do with the money.