After long debate, the 2018 Pennington County budget is finalized

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RAPID CITY, SD (KOTA TV) - It took some time, but after a lengthy debate over increased taxes and the reserve funds, Pennington County Commissioners approved the budget for next year.

The discussion was whether to make any changes to the budget that came out of committee last week.

One proposal would have increased the county's reserve fund, while the other would have kept last year's budget virtually the same.

However, neither proposal passed.

In the end, the budget that was sent to the full commission last week, which included a small pay raise for county employees, passed 3-2.
Mark DiSanto and George Ferebee dissented.

Ferebee, of district 1, says “I’m disappointed. When I first got on the commission three years ago, the goal, the reserve goal, was 20%. Now we are down 15, 16, and 17 range; that's disappointing. And even at that lower level we are still increasing taxes. If we increase taxes some more to bring the reserves up to where they probably should be the new you'd be taking more money out of taxpayers’ pockets."

The reserve fund, money kept aside to ensure a balanced budget, wasn't the only matter of contention.

Commissioner Lloyd Lacroix says services could be at risk because of budget cuts and reduced taxes.

Lacroix, of district 2, explains “The overall levy per $100,000 of evaluation on your property, the county actually reduce that cost by $6.60 per household. That's what we did."

Although the commission reduced the tax percentage, land evaluations have increased.

Meaning the total tax bill could be higher than previous years.