Simplified: Mayor Paul TenHaken describes his five-year capital spending proposal as a "meat and potatoes" plan. That's because more than 80 percent of spending is focused on infrastructure.

Why it matters

  • TenHaken's proposal – released to the City Council June 30 – is the largest capital improvement plan in city history. For context, it's a more than 10 percent increase year-over-year.
  • It's all necessary spending, TenHaken said, especially because things like roads only get more expensive to fix the longer you put off repairs.
  • The added infrastructure – especially the planned improvements to the wastewater treatment plant – are also needed to accommodate the extra 40,000 residents expected to come to Sioux Falls in the next decade.
"We're seeing record growth in almost every metric we use to determine growth," TenHaken said. "How is the city managing this growth in a way that's sustainable?"

What's in the plan?

It's a 172-page document, so needless to say there's a lot more detail than can be included here, BUT, here are a couple things worth noting:

  • The largest chunk of that money, about $345 million, would go toward utility improvements, including the new water reclamation plant currently in the design stages.
  • Another $333 million is earmarked for fixing up more than 700 blocks of city streets including the intersection at 41st Street and I-29, the Sixth Street bridge and a segment of Phillips Avenue from 8th to 9th Street.
"It's the basic guts of city government," TenHaken said.

What's in the plan besides infrastructure?

Infrastructure is far and away the biggest expense, but here are a few other things worth watching.

New pools, new bike trails

  • About $2.4 million will go to fund the replacing of McKennan Park Pool, Frank Olson Park Pool and Kuehn Park Pool.
  • This also includes $6.7 million for greenway and bike trail improvements – part of which involves expansions at the Cherry Creek corridor and the Big Sioux River Greenway.

Improvements to entertainment venues

  • About $14.5 million is proposed to fund building improvements (think: chairs, tables, equipment) to city entertainment venues including the Washington Pavilion, Convention Center, Arena and Event Center.

New buses, shelters

  • $6 million is earmarked for new fixed route buses and 27 new bus shelters.

What are people saying?

"It seems pretty common sense that we're taking care of those infrastructure things," Councilor Pat Starr said.

Starr also noted that where the budget talks will really get interesting are in decisions about how to spend COVID-19 relief funds and money saved due to relief funds the city received.

On that front, his first priority is repairing the cornice and parapet at the Pavilion.

Councilor Greg Neitzert said he's thrilled to see a plan to rebuild and replace outdoor pools as well as the bike trail expansions.

He also sees the infrastructure investment as something the city needs.

"The plan features a record investment into our roads and an expansion of our wastewater system to serve us for the next several decades," he said.

What happens next?

TenHaken will discuss the capital plan and present the 2022 budget to the City Council – which will make all final budget decisions – next week.