Johannsen letter 6-19-21

To the Editor:

We live in a township, which has no hard-surfaced roads, 20 miles of poor-quality county and 29 miles of township gravel roads, which our township officials are charged with the maintenance and repair of. In 1995, our ability to raise taxes to keep up with the costs of doing that was capped by the state government. We have the ability to levy about $1,000 more than in 1995. To make up for rising costs we have had to opt out. This is another layer of needless paperwork, indicating that we cannot make the decisions necessary to run our townships.

Our roads were devastated by flooding in 2019 and we applied for help from FEMA and the S.D. Office of Emergency Management (SDOEM). Funding for approved projects is cost-shared, with FEMA at 75%, SDOEM 15% and 10% for the county. This was my fifth experience as local representative and by far the worst. I found both agencies to be difficult to satisfy and in some cases the employees completely inept.

Redundancy ran rampant.

The first FEMA managers were excellent, but the last one was an idiot. In order to get something, I cancelled some smaller projects and gave up on others. We spent $50,000 of our own money to make the roads usable.

Under Governor Janklow, he ordered the auditor to pay the 10%, also making the state responsible for the 25% share, during difficult financial times. Now, the state has “money coming out the wazoo,” and sharing some would seem to be a good way to help out townships. Our roads are lifelines for communities, providing transportation for livestock, grain, emergency services and much more. They weren’t built for modern equipment and require more maintenance.

I hope that during the upcoming special sessions, legislators would simply send money to us.

Jim Johannsen



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