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Sioux Falls City Spending Frustrates Me [OPINION]

Tuthill Playground (Crystal Erickson)
Tuthill Playground (Crystal Erickson)

I don’t understand economics, really. I don’t understand the exact process by which things are funded for our city. I’m just a guy who sees something getting replaced that isn’t truly necessary while our mayor cries about a budget shortfall.

Mayor Mike Huether said in May that due to a shortfall in the amount of sales tax revenue the City of Sioux Falls could end up $1.2 million short at the end of the year and would have to cut back on overtime and travel.

On Friday the Parks Department announced in a press release that they are going to spend $479,000 on new playground facilities at four city parks: Bakker, Kuehn, Meldrum, and lower Tuthill.

So if the mayor is worried about $1.2 million shortage, wouldn’t it be easiest to cancel a pricey luxury item project like new playgrounds?

Crystal Erickson
Crystal Erickson

I can’t speak for the others, but I have taken my kids to Tuthill Park a lot. I’m not sure why it needs a new playground. The playground there isn’t new, but it isn’t a broken down piece of childhood deathtrap. They play on it and have fun. It is showing wear but doesn’t need replacing. I’m not saying it should never be replaced, but if money is tight maybe something besides overtime should be cut.

This project is funded through Sioux Falls Parks and Recreation’s capital improvement program and will cost approximately $479,000 total. All the amenities in the park system are inspected regularly and are programmed in the department’s cyclical replacement programs based on condition, age, and functionality. The cyclical programs are vital to maintaining the quality of the playgrounds, roads and parking lots, play courts, and picnic shelters in Sioux Falls parks. The entire project is expected to be completed by the end of July.

We live in a nice city. Our parks are great but they don’t need to be perfect. At least not right now, if this deficit is such an issue.

My wife and I have taken our kids to parks in other cities and sometimes the playgrounds were probably 20-30 years old or maybe older. Our kids still had fun. It wasn’t the latest and greatest but it was a playground which has a target audience that can be equally entertained by a large cardboard box.

This project was probably planned and green lighted before the budget shortfall. But even without the revenue shortage this is still wasteful spending. If something is broke fix it, don’t replace it. I’m not even sure anything is broken.

My gutters on my house are leaking. I’m not going to demolish my house and spend $200,000 rebuilding it because the gutters leak or because my house is old. I’m going to fix it or upgrade it.

If mom or dad loses their job and income declines it isn’t time to buy the kids new bikes. If there is actually an income problem cutting unnecessary projects are the first that should go. I can’t think of anything more unnecessary than new playgrounds. Well, maybe sprinklers installed to water grass in boulevards but that money was set on fire long ago.

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