SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – Sioux Falls city council members heard the first of three department budget presentations for the $790.1 million 2024 budget. 

On Wednesday, city council members heard from finance director Shawn Pritchett as well as department heads for human resources, the city council, mayor’s office, police and fire. 

You follow the meetings live on the city’s website.

Pritchett told city council members $452.2 million of the budget is appropriated funds, $225 million is enterprise utility funds and $113 is internal service and trust funds. 

Pritchett said sales tax is the city’s biggest revenue source at $97.6 million but he also called sales tax “the most volatile.” Sales and property taxes make up 80% of the $234.1 million general fund budget. 

“We only bond for projects that have widespread community impact,” Pritchett said, highlighting bonds for the events center in 2012, city center in 2016, public safety campus in 2020 and a 2024 quality of life bond (the third since 2007).  

There will be designs for multi-generation recreation centers as well as new outdoor pools at Frank Olson and Kuehn Park. The final designs wouldn’t come in until 2024 with the final bond price tag set in Fall 2024 with construction starting in 2025. 

City council member Curt Soehl said the budget is up 22% but the sales tax increase is 4%. He asked how those two figures work together. 

Pritchett said capital investments, like the wastewater expansion plant, are borrowed funds and that’s why the 22% looks higher this year.

24 new full-time city employees 

The 2024 budget includes $2.2 million for 24 new full-time employees to work for the city. In 2023, the city added 29 new full-time employees up from 24 in 2022 and 26 in 2021. 

In total, 1,357 full-time employees worked for the city as of June 1, 2023.

Human resources director Bill O’Toole told the city council labor contracts for full-time employees are negotiated through 2025. O’Toole shared union contracts were reached with the three major organizations:

  • FOP, Lodge #1 contract 2024-2025 
  • IAFF, Local 814 contract 2024-2025 
  • AFSCME, Local 519 contract 2024-2025

The Sioux Falls Police Department is currently 326 employees as of June 1, looking to grow to 333 in 2024. 

O’Toole said city departments are averaging about 39 retirements a year since 2019, while the turnover rate without retirements was 6.8% in 2022, up from 6% in 2021. O’Toole said that will be a number to keep watching but he will start feeling “heartburn” if it reaches 10%.

From the city of Sioux Falls.

The breakdown of the 24 new full-time employees are: seven new police department positions, four new innovation and technology positions, three facilities management positions, two new planning and development positions, one new human resources position, one finance position, one new fire department position, one new highway and street position, one new storm drainage position, one new parks and recreation position, one new water department position and one new water reclamation position.

Soehl asked what a vehicle technologist would be. O’Toole said the job works with the technology inside police and fire vehicles. 

The city’s explanation for the vehicle technologist says the “position will support the expanding technology needs of over 600+ vehicles for Public Safety, Transit and Public Works.  Items like cradle points, wiring, laptops, and mobile networking.”

Erica Beck, TenHaken’s chief of staff, said the mayor’s office has a full-time staff of five people. 

SFPD looking to hire 7 more officers 

Sioux Falls Police Chief Jon Thum thanked the city council for the support to the police force. There’s 295 sworn officers that have an average response time on priority calls of 7 minutes and 30 seconds. 

Thum said the 2024 budget also includes a metro communications commitment, technology investments and 22 new patrol vehicles. 

“The story really is about people,” Thum said. 

Council member Rich Merkouris asked about metro communications positions pay scale. Thum said the new public safety campus will be a big of a recruitment tool for staffing. 

“It’s a very stressful job,” Thum said. 

Merkouris asked about car thefts and Thum said new technology is being used and tested. Thum said in May and June there were more than 220 cars stolen and 80% of those involved the keys being in the car. 

Sioux Falls Fire Rescue Fire Chief Matthew McAreavey said there’s 229 full-time positions across 12 fire stations throughout the city. In the 2024 budget, McAreavey said hiring mostly comes when new fire stations open and the new employee would be a training captain. 

McAreavey said one new ladder fire truck would replace one from 2006. 

READ: 2024 city of Sioux Falls budget

Last week, Sioux Falls Mayor Paul TenHaken, public works director Mark Cotter and parks and rec director Don Kearney spoke with KELOLAND News about the budget, highlighting how the city is dealing with population growth. 

The 2024 budget is nearly $100 million more than the 2023 budget. TenHaken pointed to increases for services and goods, while taxes have remained the same. 

TenHaken highlighted how infrastructure and public safety combined make up 75% of the 2024 budget. Now serving in his sixth year, TenHaken said he commonly hears how residents want to see tax dollars spent.  

“They want to spend it on police and public safety and making sure crime stays low,” TenHaken said. “They want good roads, they want good water and they want good infrastructure. A lion’s share of the budget goes into those projects.” 

TenHaken said people would have a hard time finding waste in the budget.