STURGIS, S.D. – The City of Sturgis hosted local legislators and other government officials Wednesday for the annual Legislative Breakfast.
The event is a time for city officials to share topics of interest which could be addressed by area legislators at the upcoming 2024 South Dakota Legislative session or addressed at the federal level by the state’s congressional delegation.
Topics ranged from the use of city property by the South Dakota National Guard at Exit 30 to funding state radio upgrades along the I-90 corridor for first responders.
Sturgis City Council President Beka Zerbst gave a brief overview of topics. She also shared the background on those topics and provided possible solutions. Officials attending represented Meade County, Meade School District, the state’s congressional delegation, Sturgis Area Chamber and Sturgis Economic Development Corp. Representatives from Piedmont and Summerset were also on hand.
Gary Cammack, District 29 State Senator from Union Center, told those on hand that money continues to be one of the biggest challenges for the legislators.
“When it comes down to it, there are problems to be solved, and very few of them don’t require some money to accomplish that,” he said.
Cammack said that in the last few years either on the state level, county level or city level or even in a private business, the challenge of compensating employees has been an issue. You don’t get good people unless you pay them well,” Cammack said.
“And, we’ve got to keep the level of compensation up for the folks that we’ve got. They’re the boots on the ground to get things done.”
The answer to better funding at any level has been growth, and the Black Hills area has been able to meet issues head on because of continued growth.
“The problem is the needs just keep growing faster than the growth,” Cammack said.
This year’s session opens at noon on Tuesday, Jan. 10, with the State of the State address.
“It’s all going to be trying to make the checkbook balance at the end of the day and get the job done,” Cammack said of this year’s Legislative session.
Kirk Chaffee, District 29 State Representative from Whitewood, said that from discussions Wednesday and from other meetings he has attended this fall concerning the Legislature, he believes many of the same issues are priorities across the region.
“For all the tax dollars, you have all these entities fighting over that same dollar,” Chaffee said. “Everyone has their own wish list, what they would like to see accomplished.”
All the ideas sound good, but anytime the government is spending tax dollars they are taking it away from one project and earmarking it for another, Chaffee said.
Following is a list of topics presented by the city at the Wednesday meeting:
- Long term use of City’s property at Exit 30
- 2023 Summer Study Session recommendations for county funding
- Ensuring the long-term viability of EMS
- Funding State Radio upgrades along I-90 corridor for first responders
- Long term planning/housing in Sturgis
- Collaboration with SD Department of Tourism
- Black Hills VA (Fort Meade) Partnership
- USFS Chimera Project / Topaz
- Safe Streets & Roads for ALL (SS4A) Grant