Happy Wednesday! Megan here.
Thank you to everyone who came out to the Falls Art Market this weekend! We had a great time, and I hope those of you who are new to this email feel welcome (and maybe even a little smarter after reading!)
Weather check: Scorching
This week, I'll show you a nonprofit helping people around the world get more in tune with their breath. You'll also get a "simplified" explainer on how property taxes work amid city budget season, and I've got a look at how Mayor Paul TenHaken's administration is looking to shake-up the city's role in the local arts community.
And now, news:
This Sioux Falls nonprofit is helping people breathe worldwide
Simplified: Despite a lifelong respiratory illness, Ashley Ballou-Bonnema has made a career out of singing. She founded nonprofit Breathe Bravely to share the healing powers of singing with cystic fibrosis patients worldwide, and we caught up with her ahead of the nonprofit's annual Backyard Bash – which will take place Aug. 13 at Levitt at the Falls.
Tell me more
Cystic fibrosis is a chronic disease that affects primarily the lungs, but can also affect the pancreas and other organs.
- It's a progressive, genetic disorder that affects about 40,000 people nationwide and more than 100,000 globally, according to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
Ballou-Bonnema credits two things with saving her life: singing, and her older brother, Nathan Ballou.
Screenings for cystic fibrosis have improved in recent decades, but Ballou-Bonnema doesn't think her diagnosis would've been found at birth had it not been for her older brother, who was diagnosed at age 7, shortly after she was born.
- The disease took his life four years later.
The visits to see her brother as he sought treatment were among Ballou-Bonnema's first memories of her love of singing.
"My dad and I would sing and listen to music driving to see my brother," she said.
Learn more about the nonprofit and how you can help.
Property taxes, simplified
Simplified: It’s budget season for the City of Sioux Falls, and one decision councilors will make is whether to include a 3% inflationary increase to property taxes collected for the city.
Why it matters:
- Property taxes fund about 37% of the city budget — with the rest funded by sales tax and other revenue. Those taxes go to support general operations from snow removal to parks to the library to public safety.
- Only about a quarter of the property taxes you pay go to the city. Over half goes to your local school district and the remainder goes to the county.
- Each year, the city council must vote on whether to increase its slice of the property tax pie to help keep up with inflation. The state caps this increase at 3%, so even though inflation is higher, the city cannot increase property taxes collected at a higher rate than that.
“We don’t have to take it but we’d be silly not to because you’d just have to pay for it down the road,” Finance Director Shawn Pritchett said.
How are property taxes calculated?
See a breakdown here, and get a sense of what a 3% increase from the city could mean for you.
Super Simplified Stories
- Stay safe around mountain lions. There have been two mountain lion sightings in eastern South Dakota this week. But don't worry, Joe Sneve with The Dakota Scout has a write-up on what to do if you encounter a mountain lion. (The odds are low, but always be prepared!)
- Ice cream for good. Thursday is Miracle Treat Day, where at least $1 from every Dairy Queen Blizzard sold will go to support the Sanford Children's Hospital. It's also going to be like 90+ degrees outside, so, as if you needed another excuse to get ice cream...
You might be eligible for free internet
This is a paid piece from Midco.
Simplified: Midco has helped more than 10,000 people get free or discounted internet service through a federal program aimed at lessening the digital divide. Here's what you need to know.
Why it matters
- Internet access is essential for everything from applying for jobs to signing up kids for school, but for thousands of people in the Sioux Falls community, the cost of internet access creates barriers.
- In 2020, Midco teamed up with the city and provided a donation to help study the digital divide locally. That study found about 15% of Sioux Falls households lack internet access at home.
- The federal government, in recognizing this need nationwide, created a nationwide program in 2020 to offset internet costs for low-income families. Sioux Falls families can access this Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) through Midco and may be eligible for free internet services.
"Making people aware is one of the biggest hangups to utilizing the program," Midco Director of Government Relations Andrew Curley said. "There's definitely thousands more people in Midco's territory who are eligible for ACP but are not currently taking advantage of it."
How do I know if I'm eligible?
How the city is looking to get more involved with the arts
Simplified: Mayor Paul TenHaken's administration is looking to get the city more involved in the arts through a new commission focused on public art, securing grants and promoting economic impact through the arts.
Why it matters
- The proposed commission would advise the mayor and the City Council on public art – especially how to use art to "activate public space," according to a presentation from Planning Director Jeff Eckhoff on Tuesday.
- The long-term plan would include hiring an arts coordinator within the city, a position TenHaken proposed last year but ultimately did not get approval from the council to fund.
- The commission – which would be made up largely of business and community leaders – would also work to secure grant funding for local artists, Eckhoff said.
"I hope people, especially artists, understand that we're not going to go in and tell them what to do," Eckhoff said. "We want to be a resource."
THIS AND THAT
What I'm falling for this week:
More recent stories
Become a member
Has Sioux Falls Simplified made you feel smarter about where you live? Consider buying into a smarter Sioux Falls by becoming a member and offering financial support to the no B.S. journalism you've been reading here.