Press "Enter" to skip to content

Sioux Falls Considers Raising Downtown Property Tax to Pay for More Marketing

The Republicans who have captured the Sioux Falls City Council are looking to tax things more. Specifically, they want to lift the cap on assessments of million-dollar downtown properties:

The council voted 8-0 Tuesday evening to approve a resolution providing notice that they would consider changes to the city’s special assessment on properties within the Main Street Business Improvement District at their Dec. 6 meeting.

…Currently, the assessment formula. places a $1,500 cap on building value and $200 cap on land value. That means that whether a building is valued at $1 million or $10 million, they can’t be charged more than $1,700 under the current formula.

The new proposal would keep the ratio of $1.50 per $1,000 for the first $1 million of a building’s value, along with the ratio of $1 per $1,000 for the first $200,000 of the land’s value.

A new second tier of the tax would be set at $0.50 per every $1,000 of a building’s value over $1 million, and $0.50 per every $1,000 of the land’s value past $200,000 [Trevor J. Mitchell, “Sioux Falls Council to Consider Tax Hike on Downtown Properties,” 2022.10.17].

Making the downtown property tax more progressive, asking richer propertyholders to pay more to support public services, sounds like policy that should have been implemented long ago. And the city can always use more money to fill potholes, plant trees, and pay police to keep downtown accessible, beautiful, and safe.

Alas, the additional $160K to $275K we’re talking about isn’t typical property tax. Downtown Sioux Falls, Inc., gets the Main Street BID money, and DTSF plans to throw some of that money down the endless tube of marketing:

The initial plan includes hiring two more downtown safety ambassadors to provide outreach to panhandlers and homeless people, offer hospitality services to visitors and monitor code enforcement for sidewalk use.

There are also plans to ramp up marketing efforts for downtown, improve wayfinding (i.e. signage telling folks where to go), and, in the future, fund events, art projects and other economic development efforts [Megan Raposa, “Why Downtown Is Looking to Property Owners to Pay More,” Sioux Falls Simplified, 2022.09.14].

Marketing is not a real public good. In this case, it is a public subsidy for signmakers and malarkey artists. But hey, you elect a marketing guy as your mayor, and you can expect more taxes to spend on marketing.


  1. Richard Schriever 2022-10-20 07:40

    “….hiring two more downtown safety ambassadors to provide outreach to panhandlers and homeless people, offer hospitality services to visitors and monitor code enforcement for sidewalk use.” = a “defund the police’ action from my perspective :) .

  2. bearcreekbat 2022-10-20 10:23

    This type of outreach – “hiring two more downtown safety ambassadors to provide outreach to panhandlers and homeless people” – has the potential to help people in need. For example, connecting panhandlers and homeless people with federal, state and local agencies funded to help them live safe and relatively stable lives has always been something needed in virtually every SD community. Programs such as County Poor Relief, which was initially enacted as law in SD in the 19th century, can reduce hunger, homelessness, medical and dental needs, and other serious side effects from poverty. See e.g., SDCL title 28, SDCL ch 28-18, and more specifically SDCL 28-13-1. County duty to relieve poor persons:

    Every county shall relieve and support all poor and indigent persons who have established residency therein, as that term is defined in §§ 28-13-2 to 28-13-16.2, inclusive, and who have made application to the county, whenever they shall stand in need.</i?

  3. P. Aitch 2022-10-20 13:15

    I agree, BCB. I believe a big reason major brand name corporations pass on relocation to SD is the way the poor and homeless are treated. It’s long been a joke within state agencies that the help offered is a bus ticket to Mpls/St.Paul.

    Elon Musks marketing is primarily his quirky sense of humor. Like sending a roadster into space to gather attention. Also, word of mouth for a product that still has little competition.
    Quirky Humor Example Given: 14 Reasons Not to Move To South Dakota

  4. All Mammal 2022-10-20 13:37

    A buddy of mine manages the kitchen at the well-liked eatery, Texas Roadhouse in Rapid City. They always have a wait for a table. They spend exactly $0 on advertising and marketing, like Musk. Their keys for success are number one, they treat their staff amazingly. Upon his promotion, my buddy was sent off to two different states for a total of 6 full months of total immersive training and learning. He was in Kentucky and Texas for a total of 6 months before running his own kitchen here. I know people who run branches with double and triple digit employees in their charge and watched a twenty minute video.

    The other factor to the restaurant’s steadfast position within our community is consistency. It is the same every time you eat there. People like that and so they tell other people. Word of mouth travels effectively when it comes to good food with exceptional service.

    Do a good job, every time, for everyone, and develop relationships with the community, as well as with employees, and advertising will be done for you. For free.

  5. P. Aitch 2022-10-20 14:17

    All Mammal: I’ve not gone to Texas Roadhouse but friends say it’s better than Olive Garden and better than Outback for the same reasons you mentioned. The grade of joints I cooked in (white tablecloth) had a saying. “Good restaurants don’t need to advertise.” and we didn’t.

  6. All Mammal 2022-10-20 14:42

    P. Aitch- I think most of the time advertising cheapens the product it means to sell. Outdoor ads definitely cheapen the environment they are placed in. When you look at cities in Europe, they look so much more sophisticated and aesthetically pleasing. Not because they have more wealth or prettier landscapes, but like your restaurants, they don’t jam every space with loud, tacky advertisements. We should take after the more refined tastes of our friends across the pond.
    TX Roadhouse is comfortable and I like that they put egg on their house salad. They also have their staff do line dances on the hour. Its a short, fun show. Us podunk folk like to be entertained like kings on rare occasions when we dine out.

  7. P. Aitch 2022-10-20 15:22

    All Mammal – There’s a state that resembles what you describe about Europe. It’s a state similar in geography to SD and similar in agriculture and mountains. The milk, ice cream, and cheese are world class not like the cheap pizza cheese that’s made in ESD and responsible for polluting the Sioux River. The craft foods are excellent, also. No sign can be bigger than a few square feet and can’t be elevated more than a few feet above the ground. There’s no reason SD couldn’t strive to be like Vermont … except for the stubbornness of the Germans from Russia whose descendants cling to their God and guns and hate new ideas and things more than they hate liberal, brain-drainers like me.

  8. All Mammal 2022-10-21 15:31

    P. Aitch- I envy Vermont for having much, much better taste than SD. Perhaps they are far more capable in general compared to SD due to the fact they don’t fluoridate their municipal drinking water to the point of drastically reducing the IQ of their citizens like our ‘free’ state. Choosing to vaccinate against a neighbor-killing virus is a big deal in SD, while nobody questions being inoculated with fluoride without informed consent. People I know who drink the tap water complain that water gives them heartburn. Drink that freedom up.
    I hear VT is gorgeous this time of year.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.