Box Elder funding bill tabled

BOX ELDER, S.D. — The city of Box Elder got a rude shock earlier this week when a bill with broad support to fund city improvements suddenly got deferred. The improvements would support the expansion of Ellsworth Air Force Base.

Box Elder has been planning for the expansion of Ellsworth Air Force Base, but the timeline has been moved forward, giving the city little time to prepare. The city is now expected to have plans in place to begin renovations this year, but there is just not enough money.

“Unfortunately, we don’t have in our budget, the means to make the needed infrastructure improvements, and the adding of a new main trunk line,” said Mayor Larry Larson of Box Elder.

Bill 151 would provide the city with 5.8 million dollars to complete the project primarily, improving the sewage system. The bill passed in the Senate State Affairs Committee unanimously, but was tabled by the joint appropriations committee, allowing the city to provide more information regarding the need for funding.

“One of the things that has come up is that, have we tried getting a loan, or have we tried getting grants,” said Larson. “So we’re gonna have some actual proof of why the grants don’t work for us, we’re not eligible for some, that they think we might be. So we’re going to show them what we’ve done and why those don’t necessarily work for us, and that’s why we need this bill funded at 5.8 million.”

City administrator and Chief Finance Officer Nicole Schneider said improvements to the sewage system would have also allowed for economic development within the city and along the I-90 corridor, where Box Elder has a lot of prime land.

“It allows for mega sites, it allows for small and large commercial,” said Schneider. “So that’s very exciting. And also, help support the school district because it will open up lands that the school can put additional sites. And it will also allow us to leverage those monies towards a larger build grant at the federal level.”

Senate bill 151 will be up for discussion again this upcoming Monday.


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