For many years, there’s been a vague overall vision (along with a few specific strategies) for downtown Yankton that both embraces the past and pursues the future.  

Piece by piece, this has gradually come together through the years.

(8) comments

Yankton resident

Have you ever seen a TIFD that was issued in the name of "economic development" that supposedly increases the property tax base and will reduce your property tax due to the growth in taxable property within the TIFD? It doesn't happen, never has, and never will. Whose taxes have went down?

Just another giveaway to muti-millionairs in the name of "economic development" at the expense of the taxpayers. I could use a TIFD to make improvements on my home. How about that? Oh, that wouldn't be corporate welfare though, so we as taxpayers don't qualify.

The winners in this scheme are those slick bond sellers who convince unknowing, uninformed, and uneducated elected officials at the local level, to sell the taxpayers sole. The bond seller then takes his healthy commission to the next unsuspecting governing body and does it all over again. Then he goes home and counts the money he legally pilfered from the local governments, with no shame being displayed by the local elected officials who are expected to be vigilantes of our tax dollars. Shame on the bond seller and shame on local elected officials.

To the elected local officials, don't tell me you haven't got the revenue to fully fund a budget without fee and tax increases. I am sick of it. Apparently your 13 TIFD's are not working. If they were we would be flush with money.

It is time to lockup that "economic toolbox", throw it in the river, and hope the silt quickly covers that local "toy box". There is absolutely nothing in this editorial that objective. It clearly rewards irresponsibility of local elected officials, and that is a fact.


All that you say may be true, Yankton resident. You usually have a rational take on things.

But as an optimistic cynic, I note that communities across the USA are saving their economically lagging central cities by encouraging development. Tax Increment Financing is a way to make this happen.

There have been some failures obviously, but by and large many cities have seen their city’s core revive and thrive after this initial development.

Is there something you know about this specific Tax Increment Financing District that makes it particularly objectionable?


I might also add that the successes of this kind of effort usually involves providing residential opportunities that draw people in to live in the central city upon which private businesses follow the new customers to be served.

Thereafter, the downtown becomes more attractive for folks to visit and shop in the specialty stores and eat in the restaurants that spring up.

The availability of fiber optic internet means that tech workers looking to “work from home” at an affordable rent can leave Sioux Falls, Lincoln or even New York City.

Admittedly this is the optimist side of me speaking, not the cynic.

The cynic side of me is open to your feedback…


I apologize for going on about this, but I know a young couple who are both in the tech world and are traveling about the US with their toddler “working from home” (which is their Winnebago).

They’re open to settling down when they get the urge.

I think the future looks very different for the young folks.

Yankton resident

Thank you SoDakD for your insightful comments and question. I will attempt to address them as best as possible.

First of all you define yourself as an "optimist cynic", defined as one who believes that human conduct is motivated wholly by self-interest. I don't believe that is you at all. I believe that is the definition of resume builders who are hired by the city and convince uniformed and under- educated local elected officials to follow their lead.

All Tax Increment Financing Districts are objectionable. I find it interesting that none of the local elected governing officials ever ask any pertinent questions surrounding TIFDs. One of the questions that needs to be asked is where are we at on our current bonding authority? Will this affect our future needs on critical infrastructure if a catastrophic event occurs and it is necessary to quickly bond out to repair those needs?

TIFDs do not create any new dollars in local government until the TIFD bond is retired. What makes a TIFD even more objectionable is the creation of another TIFD when you haven't retired bonds yet on other active TIFDs, thus creating more bond redemption payments out of the taxpayers pocket creating the need for higher taxes fees and opt-outs.

One might ask how this can be. Simply put the SD Department of Revenue puts a base value on property put into a TIFD. The local governing bodies (city, school, County, and any other governing body within a TIFD) continue to receive only their share of tax revenue from the base value of the TIFD (set by the state). The taxes of the additional value in the developing TIFD go to paying off the bonding for the life of the TIFD. In theory this might work, if you did not create another TIFD before previously created TIFDs bonds were paid off, but that never happens as we know we currently have a number of TIFDs which are still active, and some that may default.

In addition TIFDs create additional services and maintenance that the local government must address, causing increases in taxes, fees, and special assessments to address those needs as they must use the additional tax revenue for only paying off the bond that created that particular TIFD.

One can only wonder what the city bond indebtedness is at this point.

1. Swimming pool

2. Water plant

3. Sewage treatment plant

4. TIFDs

5. Others (parks and recreation building, park improvements (Westside & Serotoma), Yankton Transit building, ect.

Now, on the horizon, the city is discussing a new Library. When will a new city hall be needed? Do we have enough revenue to address current critical infrastructure needs? The answer is simple, the city doesn't have nor will they ever have enough money at the rate they are giving away money to bonding companies and multi-millionaire developers. This craziness is what caused numerous cities and counties in California to default and go into bankruptcy. It will happen here as well if some common sense is not soon used.

We cannot take care of what we currently have and we keep adding to and compounding the problem. TIFDs create more problems than they resolve.

California was the first state to initiate TIFDs, and the rest of the states jumped off the same cliff. Now California has repealed TIFDs because of the problems they have caused. Excessive use and abuse, such as favoritism and creating excessive debt by optimistic cynics, such as bond salespersons, un-informed elected people, and hired city administrators selling it as tax relief when in fact it is a tax liability.


Well, I was right about one thing, “You usually have a rational take on things.” I should have added, “well informed.”

So assuming that many of the projects you list are needed, would you say the way to go is a straightforward tax increase to pay for them (or borrow and then pay principle and interest to pay for them)?

Yankton resident

In SD property tax increases are limited by SDCL. Assessed value increases can run anywhere from 12 to 22 percent. Recent checks with the Beacon site confirm those increases. With those increases in value you will also note considerable increases in your property tax. The value on my home has increased annually for the past 10 years as have the taxes. If Tax Increment Finance was working there would not be a wholesale give away of millions of dollars to multi-millionaire developers and bond representatives, and our taxes would be lowered as a result of a growing tax base that never happens, but we have always been promised lower taxes with a growing tax base. Why does it never come to fruition? TIFDs are fatally flawed that is why it does not come to fruition.

The theory behind TIF is that it will grow the tax base and reduce property tax. Reality has proven that wrong time and again. About 10 years ago Mitchell had nearly exceed their bonding authority mainly through the use of TIF. They then went to the Davidson County Commission and asked them to create and back a TIF for them. The county wisely said no.

The city has the maximum City sales tax, property tax, BBB tax, lineal frontal property assessment fee, a road tax in certain areas, entertainment tax, and other

fees such as building permits, ect.. Not only is the city giving away our property tax dollar, they are giving away the bed (lodging) tax as well. Where does pride of ownership step in. When I was in business nobody gave me a handout for for maintenance and upkeep. I never asked, because I believed it was my responsibility as a property owner. Those values are quickly fading and local governing bodies are breaking themselves and the bank by giving tax payer dollars to multimillionaires and business owners who cannot seem to manage their affairs without the government handout and charity they so readily ask for and expect today.

Back to the question SoDak. Should the city raise taxes or borrow more money. The answer is neither. By law they are limited on taxes, but why should they tax more when they are already giving those tax dollars away. Apparently they don't need the money. If they don't need the money then they don't need to borrow any either. Thank goodness their is a maximum on their bonding authority, otherwise this city government would have an unmanageable debt structure that looks similar to the federal government.

I have wants and I have needs, but I manage them. I have many wants but do without, I also have many needs, but I have learned how to manage without those needs, or I find other avenues to fill that need until I can afford the Lexus.

City government needs to learn management skills and how to respectfully, intelligently, honestly, and appreciatively use the taxpayers hard earned dollar. Until that atmosphere and truthfulness is shown by the city we will always be second class. I for one am sick and tired of multi-millionaire dollar companies and individuals laughing [at we second rate, unappreciated citizen taxpayers of this community] as they walk to their bank to make another multi-million dollar deposit afforded to them by the generous city manager, her staff, and an uninformed city commission, this was all done and made possible by the generosity of the taxpayers of this community without a thank you from either the elected commission or the hired administration. Citizens and taxpayers do not need a thank you, as the commission and administration have come to expect this of people struggling to make ends meet.

A city's success is determined by a skill set, not on the ability to giveaway taxpayer dollars in the name of development. If you can't sell your city on a skill set, but rather only on a giveaway, you are destined to failure. Anybody can give something away, it takes a real salesman to sell it.

Interestingly and unfortunately, the better salesmen in the Yankton community have been the wealthy developers, and bond handlers from out of town. They always convince the city to give them money, and the city has sold their sole to them. This guarantees higher taxes and more giveaways in the future.

Maybe it is time to change the form of government in Yankton from manager to strong mayor. At least with a strong mayor form of government that individual has to answer to the taxpayer at election every 3 to 4 years. Managers answer to nobody but themselves, they don't care because they don't have to run for election and only have to hoodwink 5 individuals on the city commission to keep their position, annual salary of $125,000, and benefits. It is really a nice package wrapped in 14 gold. I know for a fact that we have individuals in this community that are full well capable of running this city quite well. And the salary would attract plenty of responsible qualified candidates.

Now I will ask 1 question. Where is the city at on their bonding authority? I bet I won't get a truthful answer.

There are wants nd


Well, Yankton resident, I came to this dialogue mainly supporting the concept of central city development which I’ve seen work well elsewhere to revive a stagnant center city.

You’ve put a fair effort into educating me (and anyone else wanting a break from our frequent snark fests) about the realities of Tax Increment Financing Districts.

But I imagine you would agree that revitalizing downtown Yankton is a laudable goal were it to be financed responsibly

Better management would help, no doubt, but isn’t there a larger underlying reality here?

Tax liabilities for South Dakotans are lower than 85% of other Americans. I believe we’re ranked as the 7th state with the lowest tax burden for its residents.

We already depend on the Federal Government to make up part of the difference between what we spend and what we take in, don’t we?

Isn’t it possible that our legislatively constricted tax base means we simply can’t pay for things South Dakotans need?

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.