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County looks for ways to offset costs of motorcyle rally


F.Ganje - March 26, 2018

STURGIS, SD – Meade County States Attorney Kevin Krull will be spending a lot of time catching up on his reading. At a special meeting of the Meade County Commission, March 21, 2018, commissioners instructed the states attorney to explore all possibilities of charging an event tax related to events that take place during at least a five day minimum in August as they are related to camping, admission, concerts or any other relative activity that occurs.

The first step towards finding the answer is for Krull to crack open the state statute books to see what the county can and cannot do in assessing a tax.  “They want to check to see if it’s legal – if we have the authority to do so,” said Krull.

According to Krull, this isn’t the first time the topic has come up. “It’s been discussed in the past but no action has ever been taken on it.”

The discussion and motion came to the forefront as the commission grapples with a look ahead to planning for the fiscal year 2019 budget and future county operations and services.  During the strategic planning meeting with department heads and others, the singular message that was coming through loud and clear was that expenses are going up, populations are increasing and maintaining or growing services is going to be difficult. Of particular concern are the costs the county incurs for the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, says commission chairman, Galen Neiderwerder.

“The commission, for years, has been interested in finding ways to offset the costs of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.  We don’t have sales tax or anything like that.  We do have vendor fees but those don’t come close to making up the costs to the county, related to the motorcycle rally.”

He continued, “We’ve looked for other ways to enhance revenue during the rally to offset those costs.  The law enforcement costs alone are pretty staggering.  He added, "While it's not certain that the rally itself constitutes the definition of a special event within the statutes,  there are many special events within the rally that I think we can charge a special event tax for.”

Krull says his research will focus on the statutes definition of a special event.  There was no deadline given as to when the state's attorney opinion is to be available. But Neiderwerder later said,   “We don’t have a deadline but we would like to get something done for this year’s Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.  County taxpayers have born the burden of the county’s costs for the motorcycle rally for too many years.”

Should the state’s attorney’s opinion be that the county can’t assess an event tax on camping, admission, concerts or any other relative activity on any event, Neiderwerder says that he is prepared to offer suggestions to reduce the county’s expenses as it relates to the motorcycle rally.

“I will suggest that we reduce our law enforcement costs during the rally,” he said.  “I want the commission to take a look at not hiring special deputies this year and doing whatever else we can to lower costs we incur because of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.

The motion to explore assessing an event tax for at least a minimum of five days in August was made by Commissioner Doreen Creed, second by Commissioner Galen Niederwerder and passed unanimously.



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