PennCo Commission unanimously approves $100K budget increase

RAPID CITY, S.D. — Thursday night was a big victory for all Pennington County fire departments, as the county commission voted unanimously to approve an additional $100,000 for the 2021 budget.

The budget committee for Pennington County Fire has received approval to use payment in lieu of tax dollars from the general budget to supplement its 2021 budget.

County Fire Administration says they are hoping to save that money in reserves for projects in the next five to ten years.

“We’re really here to focus, and we appreciate the fact that you continue to fund us this year, but our focus today is to discuss the future and the issues that we’re facing.” said PennCo Fire Administrator Jerome Harvey.

The budget is a reflection of the next decade, during which county fire is projecting several projects with hefty price tags.

Money would be coming from payment in lieu of taxes or PILT. This is money that auditor records show has been given to the general fund since 2005. It is money allocated by the federal government to help vital services such fire fighting and prevention.

“We don’t want to come back to future commissions and say- surprise you got a million dollar bill, or you got three hundred thousand for a new paging system- so on and so forth.” continued Harvey, “We need to build up a bank account that can gradually be built up and then when we need it when these things age out our its due time to replace those items, we can do that.”

Commissioners unanimously approved the $100,000 increase. Three of the five commission members are former volunteer firefighters.

“They’re going above and beyond for us already, I think it’s time that we use some of the money that I’m finding the federal and then state are already giving anyway.” said District 3 Commissioner Deb Hadcock.

The money is a win for the more than ten fire departments in the county, a third of them don’t have a steady annual source of income.

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