Meade County Commissioners declare for formulation of rural ambulance tax district

MEADE COUNTY, S.D. —On Tuesday,  Meade County Commissioners declared the formation of a rural ambulance tax district.

Several years of contention surround the important issue.

The City of Sturgis required thousands in funding to continue providing ambulance to the rural areas. Now those residents, rest assured they will have the vital, growing need met.

“Calls to ambulance services continue to increase and unfortunately there continues to be a lack of increase in the reimbursement in ambulance services,” Dan Ainslie, the Sturgis City Manager said.

But there is still some debate about who belongs in the district.

Owner of Buffalo Chip Campground, Rod woodruff, says he is part of the district while Ainslie says only part of the campground.

“I don’t see how anyone can say that we don’t have ambulance service,” Woodruff said. “We are in the district, we helped for the district, and you know, we’re there.”

The town of Buffalo Chip and City of Sturgis are not included in the district.

“The area that’s purported to be a town they asked to not be a part of the tax district and at the property owner’s request, it’s not part of the tax district and so they will not receive services,” Ainslie said.

The map of the district shows that buffalo chip campground is in fact part of the district. Anyone in the district will be able to maintain ambulance services with an increase in taxes.

The amount and the operation will be up to the Board of Directors. That election date is pending, some time in May.

“Their board can determine how is the most equitable way to charge all the property owners, it’s not the city handling that, and we’re more than happy not to,” Ainslie said. “And also the board can decide if they want to contract with us. They may choose another agency, they may choose to form their own. However they choose to proceed is absolutely fine.”

Due to House Bill 1298 providing postponement of certain elections from now until May 26, it is unclear when the election for the new Board of Directors will be.

Regardless, ambulance service is still being provided to those rural areas until the first of next year.

Categories: Local News, Politics & Elections, South Dakota News