New form of government for Rapid City?
Mayor Allender urges Common Council to formally start process in looking at home rule
RAPID CITY, S.D. – Rapid City Mayor Steve Allender on Monday urged members of the Common Council to take the first step toward more autonomy for the city.
In a letter to council members, Mayor Allender laid out the case for establishing a home rule charter. And he urged them to consider establishing a citizens’ home rule charter committee.
“A home rule charter is an articulation of the city’s authority to govern as well as its limits in governance,” wrote Allender. “It allows us to establish: the general powers of the city; the limitations to those powers; how new taxes are approved; who is eligible for elected office and how many city council members are needed for governing the city; duties of the mayor or city manager; how the budget is created; how capital expenditures are made; conflicts of interest and other provisions of elected officials; and a variety of other topics.”
Under current South Dakota law, the powers of municipalities are expressly spelled out. Any power not specifically given to cities and towns by the state are reserved to the state.
However, the people of the state’s municipalities have the right to establish home rule. As Mayor Allender explained in his letter, home rule allows cities like Rapid City more flexibility in governing itself.
Aberdeen, Brookings, Sioux Falls, and Watertown are among South Dakota cities that already work under home rule.
“A city council member in Watertown… informed me that one of the benefits of home rule is that there is no downside to it,” wrote Allender.
He concluded the letter asking council members for their immediate feedback and wrote that he hopes the Council will vote in the near future on establishing a home rule charter committee.