Rapid City Progress Report: Looking back on 2017

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RAPID CITY, S.D. -

Rapid City Mayor Steve Allender delivered the 2017 Rapid City Progress Report Wednesday, which looked back on the last year’s challenges and achievements.

Allender’s report struck a positive tone. The mayor praised the Citizen Priority Survey, which increased public and council input on how city funds should be spent. The survey helped the first year of priority-based budgeting, which led to the elimination of more than 200 city programs considered redundant.

In the survey, residents identified crime as one of their biggest concerns, with 2017 numbers higher than the year before. But Allender downplayed the crime numbers, indicating that statistics were still very low, and small increases look more dramatic than they really are.

“Rapid City is still a safe community,” Allender said.

The economy was also a focus of the report. The city had a robust economy in 2017, boosted by strong growth in sales and property tax receipts, as well as the second consecutive year of building permit valuations in excess of $300 million.

Not all the economic news was good, though. A number of well-known stores have recently announced that they would be closing their doors in Rapid City. Allender, however, suggested that Rapid City’s economic climate was not the cause for the closures.

“The recent closures of Sears and Toys-R-Us, and before that, grocery stores, those are sad moments,” said Allender. “But they don’t in and of themselves tell some sort of devastating story. This is a natural and expected evolution in the business footprint of Rapid City. It’s not the sign of a crisis. Sales are up. That means people are doing business.”

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In the end, the mayor felt good about the state of the city at the start of 2018 and the challenges it will face.

“My overall feeling about the state of the city is, it almost couldn’t be better,” Allender said. “You can find something bad if you go look for it. But there is enough positive drawing people’s attention today. We are high on the list for great places to live and work. Things are going well in Rapid City,” Allender added.

This year, Rapid City will face a decision on the future of the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center’s Don Barnett Arena, city officials will explore the feasibility of a railroad quiet zone, and there will be continued implementation of the Downtown Master Plan.

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