SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — A lengthy Sioux Falls City Council meeting Tuesday night ended with talk of an increase in funding to the controversial $20.6 million downtown parking ramp.
“This is cash coming from the Parking Enterprise Fund. These are not taxpayer dollars but relative, they are funds that have been accumulated by this fund over time,” Director of Finance Shawn Pritchett said.
Pritchett says the extra money is needed, in part, because there’s no longer a private developer attached to the project that was supposed to include hotel rooms, retail space and more. While several councilors agree the finishing work should be done to protect the city’s investment in the ramp, some say the administration hasn’t been forthcoming with information.
“This is why we do these things at informationals. There’s way too much information to digest at 10:50 at night. And I specifically asked for this information last week and then it shows up, we get it now at the meeting,” Councilor Pat Starr said.
“I mean $1.5 million is a sizable amount on a controversial project. I think that information would have gone a long way to help resolve some of the angst that exists here this evening,” Councilor Rick Kiley said.
Councilor Curt Soehl voted against deferring the issue to next week.
“So we have to move forward whether it be this week or next week. We can all be pissed at the administration for not getting us the information when we wanted to, that does not change what we’re going to vote on tonight,” Soehl said.
Councilor Theresa Stehly disagrees and wants more time.
“My inclination is whoa, wait a minute. The public is not buying onto this. I don’t care if it’s the taxpayer dollar or taxpayers’ dollar, it’s all being supported by our citizens,” Stehly said.
Stehly says being too quick to approve items on this project has been a problem.
“We were ramrodding it. And this happens over and over and over again where we don’t step back and vet things out,” Stehly said.
Vetting this increase will continue until next week following a 5-3 vote to defer.
Councilors Soehl, Greg Neitzert and Marshall Selberg voted against the motion to defer. Councilors Starr, Kiley, Stehly, Christine Erickson and Janet Brekke all voted to defer. Brekke added that the false sense of urgency to approve resolutions needs to stop and that the group owes it to the public to get more information. The resolution (Item 79) will be brought up again next Tuesday, November 12th.
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