Meade County approves provisional 2021 budget

Piedmont Valley Library volunteer Judy Watts reads a story to youngsters at the Piedmont Library last year. The Piedmont Library, as well as those in Sturgis and Faith, were approved for funding from the county in the coming year at the Meade County Commission meeting Tuesday.

STURGIS — The Meade County Commission has approved a provisional 2021 budget of $17,748,768.

The figure represents a 4.5% (roughly $953,824) decrease to the county’s 2020 approved budget of $18,260,132.

Commissioners will review the provisional budget at their meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 1. The final adoption of the budget would come at the Sept. 22 meeting.

Also approved at the Tuesday meeting were funds for organizations and programs the county dubs “non-mandated.” That means the state does not require the county to fund these programs, but the county does anyway.

Those funded include: Black Hills Council of Local Governments, $6,965;  Black Hills Works, $500;  Elk Creek Conservation District, $15,000; Faith Senior Center, $1,000;  Firefighters Association, $31,000; Meade County Fair Association, $8,500; Meade County Senior Center, $1,000;  Piedmont Senior Center, $1,000; SD Department of Health, $33,201; SDSU (4-H), $30,000;

Sturgis Economic Development Corp., $17,000; and Tri-County Conservation District, $10,000.

Amy Schuelke, Tri-County Conservation District Secretary, told the commissioners that this year has been difficult and sales of trees and other products have been way down.

“They weren’t even half of what they were last year,” she said.

Tri-County had asked the county for funding of $25,000 for 2021, but was kept at the $10,000 funding level from 2020.

She said she was seeking the increase because there have been additional expenses due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Also included in the funding were libraries in Sturgis, Piedmont and Faith. Sturgis was budgeted $29,700, Piedmont $16,000 and Faith $9,000.

Piedmont Library Director Megan Eggers said her library board had asked for $16,500 in hopes of giving a cost of living raise to staff this year.

“The board is aware of the financial challenges facing the county during this difficult time, but believes the cost of an underfunded library system to be all the greater during such times,” Eggers wrote in her request.

She said 2020 has been an opportunity for change as well as a challenge to the library’s services.

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