06/17/2021 A Voice From the Gallery

          Hey folks, finally!  Remember back in 2020? Got to wonder if this situation would have been ignored without nagging from the gallery?

09/21/2020 A Voice from the Gallery – Alcester City Council meeting-Agenda Item #5 – excerpt

                Public Hearing of Variance set at 6:16 p.m. for the Sunnyside LLC.  Present to push his variance through was Rob Huber of Lennox, SD.  He was disappointed it was not a slam dunk.  Mr. Huber announced he was a civil engineer…Currently, the municipal employee who issues the Building Permits is Finance Officer Patricia Jurrens.  So let’s take a look at the building permit, a couple of the accompanying documents and the permitting process.  First the front page of the building permit issues on August 18, 2020, by Finance Officer Patricia Jurrens and as provided to the city council for review late September 18, 2020.                                                                                                                                                           

Please note the yellow highlighted areas (addenda to Huber mortgage certification containing just the date of March 8, 2013) here.  Addition to Existing Storage units, Note the date of certification of the original drawing for mortgage purposes, Note the highlighted area on the drawing on the south side of lot #10 with the notation Small concrete Block Wall.  Now to (0:20:20.67) Councilman David Larsen’s question of a retaining wall.  Mr. Huber’s answer (0:21:30.60) explaining he didn’t feel it was justified and Mr. Huber’s excuse (0:22:02.10)  Why pencil in an addenda of small concrete block wall? Obviously expert opinion felt it was needed.  Mr. Huber states (22:56.63) “…We’ve built a lot of storages facilities…“, (33:37.47) “…gladly give you information …” already digging, a little late if you ask me, (44:55.10) “ …I have already ordered the materials…” and (45:13.13) “...Been in the business…If I would have known…“. 

                 Since this building permit involved our Industrial District the requirements for a variance are found in Chapter 15 of the Alcester Zoning Regulations…15.04  A) “…Convenience, loss of profit, financial limitations, or self-imposed hardship shall not be considered as grounds for approving a variance by the Zoning Board of Adjustment” (the city council)   So why did the majority of the council vote to allow the variance, could it be (45:59.10)  where Mr. Huber says, “…I wasn’t expecting this…” and (0:48:25.70)  Mr. Huber, “…if you don’t want to do this…just let me know…” ?  Insinuating he would cancel the project if Alcester would not give him a variance.  Really?  What about all those pre-ordered materials? (44:55.10) on the expectation this convenience variance was a cakewalk?  Mr. Huber spoke of the financial impact his project will have on our city.  Property Tax on the current property is around $1978.42 , add a like sum for the additional units for a grand total of $3799.84 per year split with the school, the county and the city, no jobs that I see for the locals and according to my information self-storage facilities are not subject to sales tax.

          Our Building Permitting and Variance Processes are flawed, encompassing convenience variances, preferential variances and lackadaisical implementation, often supporting documents lack dates and even legal documents lack dates.  In my opinion, these flaws put Alcester at financial risk and liability and cost our citizen taxpayers…Getting the agenda emailed after-hours on a Friday afternoon before a Monday meeting creates a major impediment in the council’s ability to gather facts on their own, effectively blocking council independent inquiry and beware the wrath if a council member shows the initiative to investigate on their own.  Better to ask for forgiveness than for permission, Keep the council in-the-dark, can’t hurt can it?

          Folks I would like to thank Chief Jeff Christie for his dedicated service to our community and I would like to apologise to him for the lamentable treatment he received from the city bookkeeper and the lack of intestinal fortitude of our mayor to stand up for our police department members.           

          The city bookkeeper who has reportedly whined bewailing she was, “born and raised here in Alcester, Mr. or Ms. was not …”  Bookkeeper Jurrens…sows, heifers, hens and little roosters are raised, children are reared.  You might want to keep that in mind as to which category ya’ll are a placin’ yourself.  In light of your birthright entitlement remark bookkeeper Jurrens I would like to point out you made no active choice where you were born and reared, your parents made that choice.  In addition bookkeeper Jurrens keep in mind there are those of us who came to Alcester by choice, brought our businesses to Alcester by choice, brought OUR families to Alcester by choice and brought our talents, education and business experience to Alcester by choice!  So go wash your cryin’ towel and remember ya’ll don’t get paid overtime for ‘cryin’ time’ in the finance office. 

          I would like to remind our council, mayor, finance officer and residents of Alcester, Alcester is governed under an aldermanic form of government NOT a city manager-aldermanic form of government.  Bookkeeper Jurrens is not a city manager, holds none of the power of a city manager/mayor.  Folks there are only three aldermanic municipalities in which residents HAVE VOTED for the  City Manager Form: “These municipalities are either aldermanic or commissioner form, but employ a city manager. In the Aldermanic Form with a City Manager, the mayor and alderman are elected in the same manner as described above. There are three municipalities in South Dakota using this form of government: Brookings, Vermillion, and Sturgis. In Commissioner Form municipalities that employ a city manager, the number of commissioners is nine, each elected for a three-year term. There are three municipalities in South Dakota using this form of government: Watertown, Aberdeen and Yankton…” (https://www.sdmunicipalleague.org/index.asp?Type=B_PR&SEC=%7B33E9C767-2065-4201-8F6B-DBDA8625A402%7D&DE=%7B8ED171C6-7486-4770-B412-C99E60303C64%7D

            So madam bookkeeper you are employed by the City of Alcester which does not number among the three (3) aldermanic municipalities employing a city manager, therefore YOU do not have the authority to:

9-10-15General powers of city manager.

The manager shall have the following further powers and duties:

(1)    He shall see that the laws and ordinances are enforced;  In other words Bookkeeper Jurrens YOU do not have the authority or right to order about our police chief or officers!

(2)    He shall supervise the administration of the affairs of the first or second class municipality;

(3)    He shall make such recommendations to the governing body concerning the affairs of the first or second class municipality as may seem to him desirable;

(4)    He shall keep the governing body advised of the financial condition and future needs of the first or second class municipality;

(5)    He shall prepare and submit to the governing body an annual budget not later than August first of each year;

(6)    He shall see that all terms and conditions imposed in favor of the first or second class municipality or its inhabitants in any contract or franchise to which the municipality is a party are faithfully kept and performed;

(7)    Except when the governing body may be considering his removal the manager shall be entitled to be present at all meetings of such governing body and its committees, and to take part in their discussions;

(8)    He shall sign all warrants for the payment of money, and the same shall be countersigned by the auditor, but no warrant shall be issued until the claim therefore has been approved by the governing body, except as may be otherwise provided by ordinance or resolution;

(9)    He shall have the right to prepare and introduce ordinances and resolutions and take part in the discussions on all matters coming before the governing body, but shall have no vote;

(10)  The manager shall have such further powers and duties as may be prescribed by ordinance or resolution.

No contract of the manager for the payment of money in excess of two hundred dollars, except for current necessities, shall be binding upon the first or second class municipality unless the payment shall be approved by the governing body.

Source: SL 1935, ch 158, § 3; SDC 1939, § 45.0902; SL 1992, ch 60, § 2

So madam bookkeeper, it is the residents of Alcester who decide the method of government and will continue to decide by their vote.  No matter how many times the ballot box is violated!

          Since 2014 the city of Alcester has had a lamentable record of retaining law enforcement, we find ourselves without our Police Chief and our now Interim Police Chief already had his vacation lined up when Mayor Haeder decided we needed a bookkeeper more than we needed law enforcement in Alcester.  So now here we sit without any type of permanent law enforcement.  Where did our pool of part-time law enforcement officers go?  I understand there was a request for another law enforcement officer with vehicle to ease the patrol demand.  The answer, “…we cannot afford another officer or car…”  Really, I seem to remember the purchase of $15K car just to transport water samples and shopping trips to Sioux Fall.  I seem to remember the employment of  a third member of the mowing, boat repairing and dump-ground supervision team.  Why do we need a third “utility body” to supervise the dump or play video games on the city Covid Samsungs when we need a patrolling deterrent to break-ins, vandalism and high-speed travel on our streets. I challenge the present council to look back into the record (if it still exists) and look for the common factor such as wages, hours, administrative interference, over-reach and etc. as the stated reason for departure of our law enforcement.  I urge the new city council members to demand answers.  Do not just accept an interpretation of what happened, go to the horse’s mouth so-to-speak and not to an individual whose  modus operandi is to protect her assumed, control of power and position. 

          While we wait, we can form our own tag-the-truck patrol.  As residents we can set up video equipment to track and confirm high speeds and reckless driving in residential areas, since our word is not good enough.  Video proof!   If you are driving at 15 mph, you will cover 22 feet per second.  If you are driving at 25 mph, you will cover 36.667 feet per second.  Set up visible way points on your property in your camera zone and time the movement time from waypoint A to waypoint B.  School Math 101.  I have used it and it works.  In addition we can put the video proof up online.  In an effort to keep our police department from all the nuisance calls, feel free to phone-a-Pat or phone-the-mayor since they both apparently feel our police department is not worth anything and our safety is easily traded away in favor of the Armstrong-like finance office. 

Contact City Council

Mayor Dan Haeder                   605-934-2287

Councilman David Larsen        605-934-2434

Councilwoman Darla Reppe    605-934-2602

Councilwoman Linda Talbot    605-934-1849

Councilwoman Cyndi Peeples

Councilman Brian Johnson

Councilman Curtis Keiser

Alcester Finance Officer Jurrens – alcestercityfo@alliancecom.net