BBB rewrite passes first reading

Leslie Silverman

The Keystone Chamber of Commerce may sit down with the  Pennington County Sheriff’s Office concerning the findings of the agreed upon procedures (AUP) conducted by Casey Peterson.

A discussion as to whose responsibility it is to notify law enforcement took place at the most recent Keystone Town Board meeting.

“The chamber is aware of any criminal activity,” said Mitch Johnson, town attorney for Keystone. “It’s the chamber’s employee. If they did some embezzlement from funds given to you why don’t you guys initiate that process?”

Johnson was addressing Keystone Chamber Board president Julie  Smoragiewicz.  Smoragiewicz stated concerns over using the AUP letter, which states, “this report is intended solely for the information and use of the Board of Trustees of the Town of Keystone.” The board chose to make the document public at its last meeting. She also cited concerns over the fact that the chamber is funded with money allocated by the board.

“Even though it’s using funds that came from the town?” Smoragiewicz said.

“This is your employee your agent, you’re the victim,” countered Johnson.

The board asked Pennington County Sheriff’s Office deputy Chris Plawman to come in to explain the process the chamber board can follow.

“My recommendation would be to sit down with me,” Plawman said. “I can write up a report on it. And then I would forward it out to our investigators.” 

“It’s essentially the city’s funding,” said Tammy Hunsaker, secretary of the Keystone Chamber of Commerce. “I  think that we do need the city’s support on this.” 

“We’re in agreement that we should go after funds that may have been misappropriated,” said Smoragiewicz, who wanted the town board to make some sort of motion on the subject. The board ultimately decided to make a motion to follow up on the AUP and support the chamber.

 During the discussion it was revealed the chamber does not have an inventory of its current equipment. Also discussed was the posting of chamber board meetings.

Ray French, Keystone resident, asked that the chamber advertise its meetings in a non-electronic manner. In the future, chamber board meeting agendas will be posted by the Keystone Town Finance Officer outside of the city hall office so the public can be aware of when the chamber meetings are being held.

The first reading of ordinance 35.10 took place. This amended ordinance earmarks 50 percent of the revenue from the bed, board and booze tax (BBB tax) to marketing and advertising of the Town of Keystone. The other 50 percent will be retained by the town to distribute in a manner consistent with South Dakota Codified Law10-52A-1.

Discussion began with town board president Rick Brandfas addressing tabling the item.

“I would like to consider what (Smoragiewicz) said about possibly tabling the first reading for a very good reason that we absolutely have no plan in place,” Brandfas said. “I never thought I’d be saying this because I’ve been the captain of the 35.10 ship for the last two years or more, but I never expected the chamber to create so much momentum and communication and passion and direction. I think your biggest challenge that I see is getting business membership. Before we do the first reading I wanted to see if there would be a motion to table the first reading until we have a more concrete and formidable plan in place.”

Trustee Sandi McLain made the motion to table and Brandfas seconded it. 

“If you choose to table the motion at this point it doesn’t mean you’re endorsing the chamber,” said Smoragiewicz. “I don't think the chamber is probably the right vehicle for that funding in the future. But you need to figure out what it is and figure out what that structure can be moving forward.”

Brandfas asked board members to consider tabling the matter by saying, “I see a lot of good things coming out of the chamber right now at least as it stands with the current members. It just means we’re tabling it until we have a clearer picture and clarity where we want to go with marketing and advertising in the future.”

Only trustees Brandfas and McLain voted in favor of tabling 35.10.

The amended version of 35.10 was read and discussion took place again.

“This ordinance is opening up opportunities that we are going to discuss,” said trustee Kwinn Neff. 

Smoragiewicz disagreed.

“I felt betrayed by members of the town board,” she said. “If the chamber would make forward progress the town board would hold it harmless. We worked really hard to find people who would step up to the plate. Within a month the 35.10 issue came forward. You need to have something that’s going to be well organized. You need to have something structured. You need to have some detail that’s going to describe how that’s going to work.”

Both sides agreed that no plan for how to best use BBB money is in place.

Cassandra Ott, Keystone finance officer, intervened during the discussion.

“I’m going to step into a mediator role right now. I’m not your finance officer,” Ott said. “These people are in charge of marketing our town. (For) BBB dollars the intent is they would be used to market our town. What they’re asking is that our town board have that conversation with them before we approve a first reading or before we go through this whole ordeal again only to have it fail at the second reading or we pass it and then it has to get rewritten because the conversations that have happened afterward have changed the intent of the ordinance.” 

Johnson asked the board to consider the initial ordinance he drafted where there was no mention of the “50 percent” allocation of funds.

“That’s the statute, that’s the law,” Johnson said. “How you guys implement the statute is entirely within your discretion. You’re in charge of the money. Every board every year should have the discussion of how they appropriate funds.”

Johnson suggested the town have an internal employee that answers directly to the board. 

Other ideas, such as a task force, were also mentioned during the 45-minute discussion. Ultimately, the town board approving the first reading in a 3-2 vote. The town board and the chamber board have agreed to meet at a joint meeting at a future date. 

Mackenzie Swanson, former director of the town museum and current Keystone Senior Citizen Center director has taken a position as the head of the Hill City Arts Council, according to Jon Veltman, senior center board president.

“I’m kind of hoping she’s still down there at least for Friday meals and for Bingo and trivia on Saturdays,” Veltman said. “I’m not sure where we’re going to be on that. If we don’t receive funding we’re in a bad spot. We’re already there now.”

Veltman hopes that the influx of a new board vice president and a  small supply of volunteers will help the center stay afloat.

“Obviously our hours are going to be reduced,” he said.

The historical society board also has some new members. Linda Strabuck is serving as vice president and Gloria Groth as secretary. The board has decided  it will charge patrons who visit the museum.

Some suggestions to increase museum donations were discussed including a prominent donation bear, similar to the one at the state paid parking lot, or a “round up” credit card purchase program. The board is unsure of how to fund a new museum director position. Veltman also said the Carrie Ingalls book will be completed in a “couple of weeks.” 

The town board voted unanimously to donate $500 to the Hill City School District Angel Fund.

“Every year we give money for school supplies and stuff,” said Jerry Przybylski, public works superintendent. “I asked the teacher what she needed this year and she told me about the Angel Fund.”

The Angel Fund helps to cover the balances of students who can’t pay for school meals. An email read by Brandfas from Susan Satter said, “No student is ever refused food and the need varies from year to year. Some years we use $200. Last year we used $1,200. At this moment the Angel Fund is low and can use some TLC.”

Przybylski requested the town consider purchasing a SCADA system study from Dakota Pump. SCADA is an acronym for supervisory control and data acquisition, a computer system for gathering and analyzing real-time data. It can be used to monitor the water level in reservoirs and wells in town.

“They’d go around and set up lines of communication,” Przybylski said. “This is just the preliminary thing. To know what we need. I think it’s a really good idea to do this.”

The cost of the study is $3,500.

Trustee McLain gave a report on the 23 people she interviewed for input on the cemetery. Her report said “40 percent of people interviewed said they preferred only individuals that have a connection to Keystone” can buy a plot.

The report also says “all residents preferred no raise in the current rate for locals.” 

There should also be an “emphasis on banning plots for resale,” according to the submitted report. It was not disclosed who the 23 people interviewed are.

Neff said  the cemetery parking lot is complete. He mentioned putting a gazebo at the cemetery as well. Neff wants to have parking planning meetings. He suggested after the first monthly board meeting (Nov. 6) at 6:30 p.m.

“Public meeting,” he said. “Bring your ideas. Bring your thoughts. I would like to develop short- term and long-term parking plans for Keystone.”

There was also discussion on having a town ordinance committee. There is no date as to when this meeting will take place. 

Ott said that the parking funds from the paid lot will be set aside for parking. After speaking with the municipal league the best way to seperate the money is,“as a line item in the 100 fund to assign it to the parking,” Ott said.

Down the road, when the money is self-sustaining, the money can be placed in an enterprise fund.

The library is gearing up for the penny carnival Oct. 26. Volunteers are still needed. The library will be closed that day and will open late Oct. 25. The one book event is Nov. 13. There are no more books available for the event. The library is also getting ready for Victorian Christmas and turkey Bingo.

Brandfas made it clear that the board has no intentions of selling any city property.

“What I wanted to assure everybody is that the city is not looking to sell any of our city property,” he said. 

The next meeting of the Keystone Town Board takes place on Nov. 6 at 5 p.m.

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