City of Sioux Falls evaluates financial status during the pandemic

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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Between the city's Five-Year Capital Program Update and the last month's financial report, we're getting a better idea of Sioux Falls' financial status during the pandemic.

While recent sales tax numbers are down by about 13% in Sioux Falls, that isn't nearly as bad as the 20 to 25% city officials had originally planned for.

"We tried to be as conservative as possible, and so we didn't want to error on expecting too much, so we did try to be very conservative in our estimates," Sioux Falls Director of Finance Shawn Pritchett, said.

Sioux Falls City Councilor Greg Neitzert says big factors in the less-than-predicted drop-off were the city council's decision not to implement a complete shut down as well as the local banking industry's ability to work with small businesses to utilize the Paycheck Protection Program.

"We did not close businesses here in Sioux Falls, through Governor Noem's leadership, we let people adapt and because of that we're recovering quickly," Neitzert said.

Pritchett says South Dakota was one of the states that benefitted most from the PPP.

"Our banking sector was very aggressive in working with customers to ensure that they had access to that program," Pritchett said.

As for the city's lost revenue, reserve funds of around $50 million have been carefully put into place over the years to compensate for a situation just like this.

"That is an enormous amount of money, we could literally have a shutdown, and have no sales tax revenue for a couple of months, and we could survive," Neitzert said. "Very few cities have something like that, and because of that we can weather the worst of storms."

The city will also be able to recoup some funds through the Cares Act, in which Sioux Falls is eligible to receive federal reimbursements of up to $41.5 million.

"I think we have many costs that we will potentially be eligible for reimbursement, but it's too early to say whether we could secure the full $40 million that's available to us," Pritchett said. "We will look to try to maximize that eligibility for those funds."

While the city is eligible for that federal reimbursement, officials need to be careful and diligent with what they claim in federal assistance, so that reparations don't have to be paid if the city's claims don't meet the U.S. Government's guidelines.