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SF Council Split On Events Center Decisions

May 23, 2011, 10:10 PM by Ben Dunsmoor

SF Council Split On Events Center Decisions
SIOUX FALLS, SD - The Sioux Falls City Council has decided it will vote on a location for an events center in the next few weeks, then vote on putting the issue on the ballot later this summer.

The decisions come after a three-hour work session Monday afternoon that revealed the council is split on the location for the facility.

Sitting around a table in an informal work session, Sioux Falls City Council members started showing their cards on where they stand on the events center.

"I've most recently been hearing from people as saying let's get it done. This is an economic impact for the City of Sioux Falls," council member Rex Rolfing said.

Rolfing was the only council member to come out and clearly say where he wants a new facility.

"We've hired professionals to do this study. They've done it right and right now I am standing in favor of doing it out there at the Arena. I think we need to get it done. I think we need to get it done now," Rolfing said.

But, other council members disagreed with Rolfing's location and speedy timeline.

"We have to decide, are our values 'quick and easy, get it done cheap,' or are they 'let's look at this long-term'? And we did goof up," council member Michelle Erpenbach said.

Erpenbach says in her mind, the reports put the events center Downtown, and the split council needs to be unanimous on a site for the project to pass. 

"My concern is that if we come back with this vote, kind of your gut says right now it'd be 4-4 and the mayor would break the tie, what does that say to the citizens of Sioux Falls? Even the council can't come to an agreement on this. Why should I vote for something even the council can't agree on?" Erpenbach said. 

"You know Michelle we don't have to be unanimous. I'm sorry," council member Jim Entenman said. "I disagree with that because we've got 154,000 in this city that probably all have different viewpoints, and they're not going to be unanimous at the end of the day on any decision they make. Just like we aren't going to be unanimous in our decisions we make every day."

The council is also struggling with when to have the election. The mayor wants it this November, others say that's too soon.

"To try to educate, to come up with all those answers in August, September, and then have a November election? It isn't going to pass. It's just not going to happen," council member Sue Aguilar said. "You haven't given the public all the information they need in order to make their decision."

"I ask my council members here let's have some patience. Let's give the administration that time period into August, and if they don't have the information then there's going to be that time when we have to decide exactly what we're going to do," council member Kenny Anderson Jr. said.

The council has scheduled informal working sessions once a month for the next four months to continue the discussion. It will vote on the location once the ethics complaint against council member Jim Entenman is resolved at the beginning of June, and then make a final decision sometime in August on when to hold an election.

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