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Walmart Changes Design, Policies to Suit SF Neighbors; How About Higher Wages?

KELO tells us that Walmart is trying to play good neighbor by making some changes to its proposed store at 85th and South Minnesota just outside the current boundaries of Sioux Falls:

Walmart is now back at the table with an updated plan that addresses appearance, including adding brick in various areas and updating the exterior finishing materials.

But one of the biggest changes deals with residents traffic concerns. The retailer had originally planned the development's main access point to be right in line with an already established residential street. But neighbors expressed concerns that that would bring increased traffic flows to the neighborhood.

So, the plans put the access point east of the 85th Street entrance that was originally proposed. It would also include a stoplight and limited access to Walmart's parking lot off of South Minnesota Avenue.

The retailer says it's made other policies at this store to address neighborhood concerns. Those include:

  • No overnight RV parking.
  • LED lighting standard in all new builds to reduce concerns of light pollution.
  • Smaller monument signs that are lower to the ground instead of a large 30-foot high sign.

The retailer also said it would enforce its no idling policy for trucks making day and night deliveries [Kelly Bartnick, "Walmart Tweaks Proposal for South Sioux Falls Location,", 2013.06.03].

How very nice. Now how about Walmart change the policy that will have the greatest impact on workers and Sioux Falls taxpayers: its exploitation of labor and reliance on government to pick up the tab?

Because of the chain's low wages, its workers are often pushed to accept public aid, including food stamps and subsidized housing, according to a report from congressional Democrats.

That means a single Wal-Mart Supercenter store in Wisconsin may require taxpayers to shell out as much as $1.7 million per year -- or nearly $6,000 per employee -- in aid, according to one estimate in the report. A second estimate pegged the cost to taxpayers at a lower $904,542 per Supercenter. The study examined Wal-Mart stores in Wisconsin because of the availability of Medicaid enrollment data for the fourth quarter of 2012.

"When low wages leave Wal-Mart workers unable to afford the necessities of life, taxpayers pick up the tab," the report notes. "Taxpayer-funded public benefit programs make up the difference between Wal-Mart's low wages and the costs of subsistence" [Aimee Picchi, "Wal-Mart's Low Wages Cost Taxpayers Plenty," MSN:Money, 2013.06.03].

Picchi reports that the average wage at Walmart is $8.81 an hour. That's better than Lincoln County's basic living wage of $8.03 for a single adult, but it is far from the $17.32 a working parent would need to feed and clothe a family of four.

Maybe arguing for fair wages and worker rights isn't a winning issue in South Dakota. But Walmart's reliance on public services to pad their profit margins imposes public costs as real as the traffic and aesthetic issues Walmart is offering to soothe neighbors' nerves around Sioux Falls.


  1. Owen Reitzel 2013.06.04

    why pay higher wages when the government will make up the difference. Thats Walmarts philosophy.
    Costco does it right.

  2. SDBlue 2013.06.04

    Both KELO and KSFY ran this story. 99% of the comments on both stories are favorable toward Walmart. I guess the people here have no problem subsidizing billionaires. We are a Republican state, right?

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