Jobs project questioned as costs rise

Published 9:34 am Wednesday, April 22, 2015

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — Costs are rising for a city-sponsored campaign to recruit workers from other states to Sioux Falls, and at least one City Council member is questioning how the effort is being funded.

The website and ad campaign is aimed at attracting applicants from Minnesota, Iowa and Nebraska to fill more than 2,000 positions in Sioux Falls.

The city spent more than $35,000 building the website and buying advertising before City Council members and the public learned about the project, and costs are expected to total $100,000.

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That’s too much for a project the council wasn’t a part of planning, Councilman Greg Jamison said, adding that the perception is that the city’s Community Development Department piecemealed the project to avoid having to get council approval. Contracts of $25,000 or more require an endorsement from the council.

“It’s a lousy way to lead this project,” Jamison said. “It’s a lousy way to develop an initiative like this.”

Mayor’s spokeswoman Heather Hitterdal said keeping the website from the public before its launch wasn’t about pulling one over on the council.

“It took a lot of time and effort starting probably back in December . to work through this process,” she said. “I don’t feel like it was secretive. That was never the intention of this project.”

Jamison and two other council members on Tuesday voted against authorizing a $39,000 contract with a Sioux Falls company for website maintenance through the end of the year, but they were out-voted by four other council members.