SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Mayor Paul TenHaken said there are lots of reasons to be optimistic as the city of Sioux Falls continues to grapple with the coronavirus pandemic.
TenHaken shared his State of the City address virtually Tuesday afternoon after he recorded it at the Washington Pavilion.
While people will not forget those they have lost to COVID-19 and the sacrifices that were made, the optimism comes because the city’s residents have proven they can work together during the crisis, Ten Haken said.
He said the city has a heart, which is displayed through caring for others and donations to COVID-19 relief funds including the One Sioux Falls Fund.
“…the heart of our city is incredible. Take comfort in the fact that you live in the best city in the world,” TenHaken said.
The public’s heart along with the city’s strong finances and economic position are all reasons to believe Sioux Falls will emerge from the pandemic even stronger than before, TenHaken said.
The current city council and past city officials placed Sioux Falls in a strong financial position, TenHaken said.
An example of that strength is the city is building a new fire station with cash, he said.
City finance director Shawn Pritchett has said in prior interviews with KELOLAND News that the city has a healthy general reserve fund that can help offset any revenue losses from COVID-19. Also, the city posted very good revenues during the first few months of 2020, Pritchett has said.
But while the city’s finances and economic situation is better than others, it will still take time for it to recover from COVID-19 losses.
The city lost 2.6% in sales tax revenue in one half of March, according to the April financial report. The May report will reflect any losses or gains in April. The biggest loser was the entertainment tax revenue, which fell by 24.3%.
The losses in entertainment tax revenue are in line with Pritchett’s predictions in early April.
In an April 7 presentation to the Sioux Falls City Council, Pritchett said up to 85% of the sources for the entertainment tax will be negatively impacted by COVID-19.
Although the country is in the midst of a pandemic, the city continues to attract interest from business and industry, TenHaken said. Potential businesses and industries know of the city’s healthy finances and resiliency, he said.
Investment by businesses and industry is critical in the city’s future but so are continued public and private partnerships, TenHaken said.
He cited several examples in his address including the partnerships to develop the State Theater and the partnerships to establish a triage center to help address mental health and addiction needs in the city.
Businesses, industry, other private entities and the public have cooperated to develop those projects, the mayor said.
TenHaken frequently referred to One Sioux Falls, a framework developed to encourage a comprehensive view to address needs in the city.
The partnership projects as well as projects on streets, affordable housing and an emphasis on the drug problems in the community are part of One Sioux Falls, TenHaken said.
Now, as the city, the public and private entities continue to deal with a pandemic, the community must continue to move ahead as One Sioux Falls, TenHaken said.
Watch the pre-recorded State of the city address below.