Five things to know about the public meetings on the area’s growth that Pennington County officials are holding

RAPID CITY, S.D. – Rapid growth in the area and the increase in insurance and utility costs are all things that Pennington County residents are aware of. County officials are aware of it too and have been holding public meetings to hear these concerns and answer some questions.

They have held two meetings so far, in New Underwood and Hill City. There will be another public meeting Wednesday, March 22, at the Rimrock Community Center in Johnson Siding.

Could you explain what these meetings are?

“These are public meetings to go over the property assessments in the county,” Lloyd LaCroix, chair of Pennington County Board of Commissioners, said. “They’ve taken some big increases this last year and couple of years. This is a place to ask questions to the assessors, and explain the budgetary process for the county and other entities and to just get the information out to the public and have a face to face meeting.”

What have you heard from residents?

“I’ve personally have heard, not just the assessments, but people are concerned,” LaCroix said. “I think a perfect storm hit our community. I mean, number one, we had growth, people coming here. Housing market, ours has always been stable and a supply and demand, so it’s increased. Utilities have increased dramatically, insurances have increased. So it’s been a perfect storm where it’s hitting everybody at once. And plus labor shortages in our community also is a factor.

“Our community weathered the storm in 2008 during the financial crisis,” he added. “Our housing market didn’t go down. We’ve been steady at 3% for many years and that’s pretty standard. But, you know, the last couple of years were not only the pandemic, but with Ellsworth, the supply of housing in our area has increased, people being able to work from home, so they moved.”

What are you hoping to get from these meetings?

“What we’re hoping with the public meeting is, number one is to be face to face with the public and explain equalization. As Pennington County, we just collect the taxes, but we take a lot of the heat, saying we’re the ones that are increasing it,” LaCroix said. “So we want to explain how the tax process works, how we collect it, and distribute it to city, county, schools, fire districts, ambulance districts, water districts. You know, we just collect it and distribute it. But the county commissioners have been hard working in keeping our levy down and our operational costs to a minimum.”

Why is it important that communities know this?

“I think it’s important for the public to know how their public boards are using their tax funds and how they distribute it,” LaCroix said. “I mean, public safety is number one. It’s the biggest expense for Pennington County. How we get there from not only just assessments but also fees and so forth, how we’re handling the court systems, the jails, the roads, all that is in the big picture. We just want to be able to go out there to show what it all goes for to them.”

Elderly/Disabled Assessment Freeze:

“There are some minimum requirements in the legislator just up some of those minimum requirements this year, So, you know, if you meet those requirements, by all means, you know, we want our elderly to stay in their homes and be able to to make it. So check that out.”

  • Qualifying criteria
    • 65 years old or disabled
    • Owner occupied residence for at least a year
    • Home valued at less than $317,700
    • Income less than $37,065 (single) or $47,655 (couple)
    • Application RECEIVED by the county treasurer BEFORE April 1
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