Clock ticking on opt-out referral

HURON – Three times in the last half dozen years, Beadle County commissioners have adopted resolutions to opt out of the state’s property tax freeze.
Each time, it meant another $300,000 per year to address road and bridge repair needs in the county.
Last month, commissioners voted to move forward with another opt out, again for roads and bridges.
It will provide more local matching dollars for Bridge Improvement Grant (BIG) funding the county receives from the state, a part of the transportation bill known as SB 1.
For the typical home valued at $100,000, it will cost the owner another $12.80 this year in taxes for the opt out.
The opt out can be referred to a public vote. The signatures of 539 registered voters living in Beadle County must be submitted to the auditor’s office by March 8.
State law prohibits the county from simply increasing property taxes rather than opting out.
“That’s what this is, because we’re set on the value that we have,” said Auditor Jill Hanson.
“And for the amount that we are getting this year, you can only increase it by CPI (consumer price index) and (new) growth and then that is it,” she said. “And so the only other option you have is opt out.”
The county has been successful in being awarded bridge repair funding through the BIG program.
It must provide a 20 percent local match for the grant money.
Opting out of the property tax freeze dates to the Janklow administration.
A check of area counties indicated that Hand and Spink counties have never opted out.
Kingsbury County Auditor Jennifer Barnard said commissioners adopted a resolution for a seven-year opt out in 2010 for $300,000 annually, and renewed it this year for another seven years through 2024.

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