Happy Wednesday! Megan here.

First things first, this issue is brought to you by the REALTOR Association of the Sioux Empire (RASE) in partnership with Sioux Falls Thrive.

  • RASE supports the affordable housing trust proposed by the Housing Action Team, a collaborative action team facilitated by Sioux Falls Thrive. Learn more about how their plan could help ensure housing for the community's most vulnerable here, and attend a free, public informational session at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 17 at the Belbas Theater in the Washington Pavilion.

Weather check: Get ready for a heat wave

This week, there's a lot of local government news to keep up with. I've got an update for you on the new juvenile detention center planned for Minnehaha County. You'll also find some potential future shake-ups to the public transit system, and I checked in on Sioux Falls' falling recycling rate.

And now, news:


Get a look at the new Juvenile Justice Center design

Simplified: Minnehaha County's plan for a new $50 million Juvenile Justice Center to replace the existing facility is moving forward. Here's a look at designs shared this week with the county building committee.

Why it matters

  • The current juvenile detention center, built in 1969 and most recently remodeled in 1995, is running out of space. It's also lacking resources needed for staff – including break rooms and showers.
  • Minnehaha County Commissioners in February voted unanimously to approve plans to take on up to $50 million in debt to build a new juvenile detention center.
  • Initial designs shared this week show a more than 72,000-square-foot facility with features including 64 beds, a new courtroom, new office spaces and break room facilities for staff and safely confined outdoor spaces.
  • Plans right now are about $400,000 over budget, but Assistant Commission Administrative Officer Tyler Klatt said he's confident designers will make it work for under the $50 million mark.
"The commission recognizes that this was not an inexpensive ask of them ... it's never fun to have to pay for things like this," Klatt said. "But it's important. The goal is, if you can build something like this to help kids now, then we don't see them again in the future at the jail or penitentiary."

Tell me more about the planned facility


Sioux Falls is recycling less and putting more in the landfill

Simplified: The rate of recycling – i.e. the percentage of waste that gets diverted from the landfill – has seen a steady decline over the last five years. Now, the city, waste haulers and Millennium Recycling are working together to figure out why and how to encourage more folks to recycle.

Photo by Sigmund / Unsplash

Why it matters

  • As Sioux Falls grows, the city has seen a 14% increase in municipal solid waste over the last five years, according to city data. In 2022, the city added more than 211,000 tons of municipal solid waste to the landfill.
  • Meanwhile, the recycling rate during that same five years went down from a high of 23.4% to a five-year low of 18.7% last year.
  • There’s no single answer as to why the recycling rate is decreasing. City officials say the decline is due to people consuming fewer single-use products like water bottles, magazines and newspapers which means less stuff overall ends up in the recycling bin. Recycling plant leaders attribute the decline to a lack of education for residents, or just plain apathy with the process.
"We’re just wasting all of those resources that we could be reusing," said Marissa Begley, communications and education director with Millennium Recycling, the region's single-stream recycling plant. "On a conscience level it's not a good thing."

What can be done to reverse the trend?


Super Simplified Stories

  • Lloyd to construct river greenway with under-budget bid. The City Council on Tuesday formally awarded a bid to construct the third phase of the river greenway to Lloyd Construction Company. Lloyd Cos. donated $750,000 to help complete the project, and their $10.7 million bid came in under the estimated $16.5 million costs to complete the project. Find background and renderings of the project here.
  • Council approves money for street department. The council also gave final approval for the Sioux Falls streets team to receive an additional $5 million for the rest of the year – plus another up to $2 million, if needed. That's because a snowy winter ate up the snow removal and streets budget in the early months of the year. More background here.
  • City employees set to get raises. The City Council on Tuesday approved agreements with three union groups. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees – made up of, as you might guess, city employees – will see a 3% increase in 2024 and a 3.5% increase in 2025. Police saw the highest increase at 6.5% next year and another 3.5% the year after, and the firefighters agreement includes a 5.5% increase for next year and a 3.5% increase for 2024.
  • New schools ready to open in Harrisburg. The fast-growing Harrisburg School District is starting the 2023-24 school year with two new buildings: a Freshman Academy and a new middle school. Pigeon605 got a first look at both buildings ahead of the first day of school.


Why big changes may be coming for public transit

Simplified: The city is looking to switch things up in who provides public transit, and some City Council members have their own ideas for changes they'd like to see, as well.

Why it matters

  • The city budgeted a little over $14 million for the transit system last year, and the planning department is asking for $14.6 million in 2024. But it’s likely that number will change as the city explores new companies to take over the contract for busing, Planning Director Jeff Eckhoff told councilors Tuesday.
  • Public transit has been a tough nut to crack for the city. In recent years, the city has tested on-demand ridership, collected more ridership data, offered free rides to kids, rolled out mobile ticketing at more.
  • Ridership is up, Eckhoff said, but the city still ends up spending millions annually on a system very few in town choose as their mode of transportation. Instead, many regular bus riders are those who have no other option.
“Everybody’s trying to fix transit … I don’t know if you can fix it,” Eckhoff said. “But you can certainly make it better.”

What changes are (potentially) coming?


What I'm falling for this week:


More recent stories

Where to find the best deals on school supplies
It’s back-to-school season! I looked for the best deals around town on school supplies – here’s what I found.
Sioux Falls hasn’t refunded a parking ticket in six years
The City of Sioux Falls hasn’t refunded a parking ticket since 2017. But, that doesn’t mean every ticket written gets paid.
What we learned about future park plans during budget talks
The city parks and recreation department gave a closer look at its proposed nearly $43 million budget for next year to the City Council on Tuesday – and conversations revealed some of the larger plans and wish list items beyond the next year, as well.

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Reach out

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Thank you

Thank you to Sioux Falls Simplified sponsors, including the Sioux Falls Development Foundation, the Sioux Falls Area Community Foundation, Barre3 Sioux Falls, Midco, the Great Plains Zoo, the Sioux Metro Growth Alliance and Voyage Federal Credit Union. When you support them, you're also supporting Sioux Falls Simplified.

Special thanks to RASE and Sioux Falls Thrive!

Don't miss the upcoming information session about how an affordable housing trust could help those most in-need of housing. Details here.