Virus may impact Keystone revenue

Keystone may be facing some tough times ahead, according to discussion at the most recent town board meeting.


The tiny town, which relies solely on sales tax revenue for funding, has seen a negative BBB (bed, board and booze) payment and a sales tax payment of just $1,000 for the last month.


“It’s already pretty evident it’s going to be a rough year,” said Cassandra Ott, the town’s finance officer.


Trustee Kwinn Neff pointed out that the town is about where it was last year at this time, with BBB income of $2,900 year to date, which is comparable to the $2,924 five year average.


The year to date and the five-year average for total tax revenue are also comparable. Ott cautioned using these numbers as a benchmark since last year the town received a $16,000 one-time payment.


The board approved a motion to transfer bank accounts to the new board. The transfer will not take place until new board members have been sworn in. 


The town plow truck was involved in an accident on Columbia Street. During discussion of the incident it was noted that the town does not have an official policy on filling out an incident report when an accident takes place.


“I’m happy to write up an incident report,” said Public Works Superintendent Jerry Przybylski who also noted another incident at Menards.


The plow for the town’s plow truck needs square tuning replaced at a cost of $5200. 


“Last week the plow broke,” Pryzbylski said. “The plow is fairly new but two parts on it were old. We saved as many parts off the old plow as we could.”


Those parts just “finally broke.”


Przybylski  was asked about keeping an eye on supplies like toilet paper and hand sanitizer. Usually orders for those items get ordered in April. Przybylski  also noted that public works has been fixing windows at the museum and doing work at the cemetery. 


According to Ron Bengs, the town’s engineer, the Roy Street Bridge bid opening is on hold due to COVID-19. Plans will be finalized over the next one to two months and be available for bidding when the town decides to move forward.


Department of Transportation (DOT) bridge inspections will occur later this year.


The town is trying to coordinate the surveying of the paid parking lot with the Front Street right of way project. A motion to approve $1,500 survey Front Street in preparation for hydrant relocation was approved by the board. Neff wanted to make sure citizens know that the Front Street project is “a matter of safety.”


Board members are attending Pennington County Emergency update calls on a weekly basis.


The calls “give us an idea of what other towns are thinking for opening,” said Neff.


Neff is also participating on Monument Health calls so that the board can “ balance opening with public health” concerns.


“At some point we are going to open, but how do we do it safely?” Neff said.


Board President Rick Brandfas agrees.


“We continue to monitor what’s going on,” Brandfas said. “It’s difficult to have a model for a safe opening. As information comes in we’ll keep getting it out there.”


Robin Scott, the town’s librarian has been the “outreach” branch of the town, according to Ott who gave the library report on her behalf. Scott has been processing the increase in interlibrary loans by personally driving to the Rapid City Library to fulfill Keystone patrons’ requests.


Scott has been trying to conduct storytime for area children on Facebook but has run into copyright restrictions. She is working on Facebook summer reading program plans in case the COVID-19 situation prevents a face-to-face interaction. Prizes for the program will be craft themed. Scott had also been delivering lunches to residents in need.


According to Jon Veltman, who emailed the senior center report to the town board, “the senior center is still providing food for the needy and unemployed every Thursday from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. We’re able to order more food through Feeding South Dakota and plan on doing this.”


The food pantry has received several donations of food from community members. As of yet there is no date on when to resume Friday lunches.  The center is looking at grant options to help with food and equipment.


The audit of the Keystone Museum has been submitted, although results will not be available for one to two weeks. An opening date for the museum has yet to be determined. The museum will have a new director, Casey Sullivan.


“He's very qualified and has a background in museums and education in history. We hope to bring him on at the end of the month, “ said Keystone Area Historical Society (KAHS) President Veltman.


The Living History program is cancelled for the year since students will not be returning to school to finish the 2020 school year. The museum’s 501(c)3 application is still pending, which is impacting the Carrie Ingalls festival slated for this July.


“The Carrie 150 celebration has had some setbacks,” Veltman said. “Our application for the 501 c 3 is still pending and many of the grants that we applied for depended on that. There is a possibility this event will be canceled and rescheduled for next year but we're not sure yet.”


Linda Starbuck has resigned as the KAHS vice president. Jeanie Kirkpatrick will be appointed as her replacement. The audit has been submitted to the accounting firm and we should have results within the next week or two.


The Keystone Chamber of Commerce is committed to fiscal responsibility while still serving the interest of the business community. According to Leah Serrano, the Chamber has  “pulled back on spending tons of money on marketing but we still have a presence out there so that when traveling becomes safe again, our guests will know where they need to visit.”


The Chamber is working with Evergreen Media to revamp its “Keystone is Monumental” video. The Chamber is continuing to have a strong online presence.


“We are working on keeping social media going,” Serrano said. “We haven't disappeared from marketing Keystone but have pulled back in order to save resources for a bigger push in a month or so.”


The Chamber is also continuing to search for a new director.


“We are continuing to work on finding a director even though times seem a little grim right now but have had some response and are very hopeful to find just the right person for this job,” Serano said.


Town maps are in the process of being created.


“We are getting ready to start putting the 2020 maps together so members should be getting calls from one of us shortly or can email or call to let us know if they are still interested in being on the maps,” Serano said. “We’ve decided to double the number of maps as the membership has requested. The price will remain the same this year in order to help as this season is going to be a struggle already.”


The Chamber has submitted 2019 financial statements to TPA West for review.


A new sign permit for Keystone Mercantile was approved. The board also approved 38 business licenses. 


The board continued to stress the need for the community to work together during this crisis.


Neff offered up an idea of a conference call with businesses as a way for the entire town to open its doors at once. Trustee Sandi McLain reminded members and citizens that the Federal Payroll Protection Program (PPP), which gives money to small businesses during the COVID-

19 outbreak requires that businesses that apply for funds remain open.


“It’s not that they don't care about COVID-19,” McLain said. “It’s that they need to be open to get PPP money.”


President Brandfas reminds citizens that, “Our numbers continue to remain low. We’re not out of the COVID-19 ballpark yet. Now is not the time to let our guard down.” Brandfas is concerned that as weather continues to improve so will the urge to reopen businesses, adding: “I urge you to remain cognizant of CDC guidelines.”


The next Keystone Town Board meeting will take place via conference call on May 6 at 5 p.m.

User login