Lawrence County approves $66.9M budget for 2022

Ongoing work to the Lawrence County courthouse roof is part of the 2022 county budget. Pioneer photo by Jaci Conrad Pearson

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DEADWOOD – Tuesday, despite a fair amount of public outcry regarding a 10% cut in the funding level for Lawrence County libraries, the Lawrence County Commission approved a $66,873,135 budget for 2022 as proposed, the lion’s share of which is the addition of the Public Safety & Services Center Building and Bond Redemption Funds.

Lawrence County Auditor Brenda McGruder addressed the commission regarding the budget.

“Right now I have the levy set at 4.074 for the general fund and .070 for fire protection, for a total county levy of 4.144,” McGruder said.

Commissioner Randall Rosenau asked what last year’s levy was.

“3.966 is the general fund and .071 was the fire protection, so just over 4 – 4.037,” McGruder said.

Lawrence County Commissioner Randy Deibert said he looked at the Spearfish library’s budget and they put a 30% reduction in their revenue stream.

“And we only approved a 10%, so … which check are we writing to them?” Deibert asked.

“We would present the check that is presented in the budget,” McGruder said.

“So that would be a 10% reduction, not the 30,” Deibert said.

McGruder said yes.

Chairman Richard Sleep gave members of the audience in attendance for the budget discussion the opportunity to address the commission.

“I want to say thank you for the change from the 30% to the 10%. That will really make our next year easier for all of us and we appreciate the support to the libraries,” said Deadwood Library Director Patricia Brown.

“We appreciate you folks looking at different avenues for revenue, too,” Sleep said.

Brown said additionally, each of the libraries have written grants this past year.

“I know Spearfish received about $20,000 in grants and Deadwood about $15,000, so it is looking for all kinds of ways to support our services,” Brown said.

Deibert said he supports the libraries.

“It’s just, we have to look at the funding mechanism,” he said. “I don’t know the answer, but I was appointed to that quest five years ago, reported that to the county library board and I’m still working toward that goal, to find some money for you. Whether it’s fees or a special mill levy or whatever it is. I, for one, support the libraries and I think most of the commissioners do.”

At the Sept. 7 commission meeting, a public hearing was held on the budget. Eight individuals spoke in support of local library funding and requested that the commission reconsider a 10% proposed library funding reduction – from an allocated $492,282 in 2021 to $443,054 in 2022.

Commissioner Richard Sleep was the sole dissenting vote on approving the budget.

“I’ve been thinking about it a long time, whether I want to vote for it or not and I think there are some areas in there that we could change a little bit and budget a little less,” Sleep said.

The lion’s share of the $43.6 million budget increase for Lawrence County in 2022 is the addition of the Public Safety & Services Center Building and Bond Redemption Funds.

In anticipation of building a new Public Safety & Services Center, $41,000,000 has been budgeted for the project, along with a $2,701,500 bond redemption.

The 2021 overall budget amount was $23,287,153.

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