Ballot Measures In Sioux Falls Election

Apr 4, 2014

People in Sioux Falls have big decisions to make as they head to the polls Tuesday. This year’s ballot includes three charter amendments and four public measures that change the skyline of Sioux Falls.

People who vote in Sioux Falls’ municipal and school board election have nine decisions to make on the front side of the ballot. But inarguably, more people are talking about the choices on page two. The flip side of the ballot includes two initiated measures and two referred laws.

City Attorney Dave Pfeifle is tasked with explaining each issue on the ballot so voters understand the jargon of the original text. Pfeifle says Initiated Measure 1 gives people the option to implement snow gates citywide.

"I’m certainly no engineer but basically a snow gate is a device attached to a snow plow that prevents an undue accumulation of snow in front of a person’s driveway," Pfeifle says.

The city tested snow gates over three years. Results show snow gates do reduce piles of snow at the end of driveways and in intersections. They require more time, increase the chances of repair work, and the cleared streets narrow throughout the winter. A yes vote on Initiated Measure 1 puts snow gates in use along all streets minus emergency snow routes. A no vote says you do not want snow gates incorporated into Sioux Falls’ snow removal procedures.

The results of Initiated Measure 2 determine whether Spellerberg Park gets a replacement outdoor pool or an indoor pool. The choice gets somewhat confusing, because the language on the ballot doesn’t include an indoor option.

Right now, Spellerberg has an outdoor pool built in 1969, and it’s functionally obsolete. The city needs to replace it. Sioux Falls Director of Parks and Recreation Don Kearney says last year city leaders planned an indoor pool at Spellerberg.

"The city council has approved an indoor aquatics center to be constructed as part of our five-year capital program in 2014. In the process of adopting our capital program, at the same time, a petition was circulated to build an outdoor facility at Spellerberg Park," Kearney says.

A yes vote on Initiated Measure 2 replaces the outdoor pool at Spellerberg with another outdoor pool. A no vote means you do not want an outdoor pool at the location. If the initiative fails, the city council can decide to move forward its plan for an indoor aquatics center at Spellerberg Park. The council would have to sell sales tax revenue bonds to help finance the project.

Next, Referred Law 3 involves the Shape Places Zoning Ordinance. City Attorney Dave Pfeifle explains the origin of Shape Places.

"This was based on a citizen survey done in about 2009 followed by about 60 public meetings, lots of public input directing that ‘We want our current zoning ordinance that was first adopted in 1983 changed, and here’s how we want it done,'" Pfeifle says.

The proposed ordinance determines where places are located, how they’re designed and what they should look like. A yes vote on Referred Law 3 means you want the Shape Places Zoning Ordinance enacted; a no vote says the Shape Places ordinance should not be implemented.

Whether Shape Places takes effect does not impact a proposed Walmart on the south side of Sioux Falls. That’s where Referred Law 4 comes in. Referred Law 4 determines whether a new Walmart and other businesses can build on a major intersection in southern Sioux Falls.

The Planning Commission and the City Council approved rezoning an area at 85th Street and Minnesota Avenue for commercial business. Members of the surrounding community say they don’t want a big store with heavy traffic so close to single-family homes. City Attorney Dave Pfeifle explains the impact of voting yes or no.

"A yes vote would mean yes, the rezoning should take place and a Walmart store, offices and other uses would be allowed out there," Pfeifle says. "A no vote means no Walmart store should be allowed out there by this rezoning, along with offices and other uses."

Turning back to the front side of the ballot, voters decide whether Sioux Falls should change its charter – basically, the city’s constitution. Amendment A and Amendment B are closely connected. Pfeifle wrote the explanations of the votes.

"Right now, we have elected officials at the city level taking office on a Monday of the third week of May," Pfeifle says. "We’re just providing a little flexibility through this proposal to say, let’s do it any day of that week, because now we have council meetings that meet on Tuesdays."

Pfeifle stepped back from Amendment C, because it has a direct impact on his job. The city attorney is an appointed position. Charter Amendment C requires a majority of city council members’ consent to remove the city attorney from office. Right now, that decision rests solely with the mayor. That puts the city attorney position in line with most other civil service positions.

Voters Tuesday also choose one school board member, one mayor, and four city council members.

The city of Sioux Falls has detailed explanations and videos for each of the ballot measures at this link.

You can also view a sample ballot online before going to vote. The front side is posted here. The second page of the ballot is available at this link.