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Sturgis Council holds special Thursday meeting

Sturgis Council holds special Thursday meeting

STURGIS, S.D. – The Sturgis City Council met in a requested special session Thursday night, that, at times, clearly showed tension between the mayor and newly sworn in council members.

Council Vice-President Ruth Kopp led the effort for the special meeting, which included a 90-minute heated discussion of Resolution 2024-32. That resolution deals with the make-up of city government following the April vote to abolish the city manager form of government in Sturgis. It was passed by the old council before new council members were sworn in and that has been a clear sticker in the new council’s relationship with the mayor.

Council President Kevin Forrester joined Councilor Kopp in providing their input on why they wanted to make changes – and that’s to give the council more authority in making decisions.

The agenda packet included a new resolution in which several “Whereas” issues were either changed or re-written to reflect the proposed changes. Mayor Angela Wilkerson was upset by that, and stated that resolution changes be made by city staff.

Councilor Forrester says he was the one who went in and added the changes to the current resolution – which is intended to be a stopgap in the time it takes the council to put in a more permanent form of government.

The discussion from council members wanting more power again brought about a recommendation from City Attorney Mark Marshall, who recommended they look into a Home Rule Charter. Home rule, essentially the freedom for local governments to do anything not prohibited by the state rather than only those things authorized by the state, is a concept that has been around for a long time but has not been used extensively in South Dakota.

If the council wants to change the current resolution, they will need to vote to rescind the previously passed one and approve a new one. That topic could come up at next week’s council meeting.

Mayor Wilkerson is also recommending setting up a committee to be made up of council members and members from the public to study Title 7, or a city administrator job description should council choose that route. That committee could also study the Home Rule Charter form of government.

The council last night also discussed possibly making changes to city goals and possibly, the 2024 budget.

Councilor Forrester says the current budget is hard to track and would like to potentially make some adjustments to make sure there are no shortfalls. He says if there are shortfalls, it’s easier to tackle now before they become bigger problems. Forrester has had concerns with the budget since the departure of former City Manager Daniel Ainslie. The city will be working on the 2025 budget in the coming months.

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