SPEARFISH – The 2022 budget season ended with Spearfish managers presenting to the board their estimated budgets for the coming year to approximately $ 15.2 million with other funds and expenses bringing the total budget of the city ​​for 2022 at $ 43,073,101.

Each department showed an increase in the funds it requested, which the city’s finance officer Michelle DeNeui said was the norm.

“Typically, we have salary increases for staff, which will automatically lead to higher demand. “

Earlier this year, the city approved a massive reassessment of its job classifications and salary structure, which resulted in general increases.

For most ministries, salary restructuring was the most significant budget change to report, along with various equipment and training expenditures; however, salary increases played a much larger role in the parks and recreation budget for 2022.

“I’m one of the biggest departments in the city, especially during the summer, which makes a big difference in salaries,” said Tyler Ehnes, department head.

Ehnes said one of the biggest hurdles for his department in the summer is attracting seasonal and part-time help.

“At the recreation center, we pay our lifeguards $ 10.50 an hour, we were only able to hire about 30,” he said.

In the past, Ehnes has said that at least 45 certified lifeguards are needed to fully staff pools during the summer months.

Ehnes has proposed moving all seasonal parks and recreation workers up to $ 15 an hour starting in 2022.

“With this increase in costs, unless we want to eat this expense, I plan to bring back some water park fee increases for next year (for memberships and day passes),” he said. he declares.

Another area of ​​expansion for parks and recreation will be the addition of the Sky Ridge sports complex, which is the city, which is expected to resume operations and maintenance in July 2022. Ehnes said he was responsible for the pressure increased on parks and recreation. resources, including hiring additional full-time staff.

“With the addition of twice as much space on the ground than what we are currently dealing with, that means more water use, more waste, more chemicals, more fertilizer, more simply operational costs, so there is a pretty good increase, “he said.

For capital projects, Ehnes highlighted the new Exit 8 recreational trail, tree programs, and improvements to existing recreation areas throughout the city, including the city campground.

“After… visiting some of the campers at the campground, one thing I always hear all the time is that they don’t mind paying for the campground but never see one. improvements there, ”he said.

Ehnes is asking for $ 50,000 in 2022 to design an expansion of the campground office, which will include a store and laundry room.

The recreation and aquatic center will also receive financial assistance, as Ehnes said the facility is about to pay for itself.

“We are having an incredible year,” he said. “We cover about 97% of our expenses, which is simply unheard of for recreation centers, especially ours.”

Ehnes wants $ 300,000 for the milling and repaving of the recreation center parking lot, which he says hasn’t been redone since the 1980s when it was a retail business, as well as money to replace two pool heaters that are out of use.

Ehnes said the parks and recreation department is set to expand without having to hire more staff, so the focus for the next few years will be maintenance.

“I would like to focus the next few years on fixing the things we currently have,” he said.

Public Safety is another department that has seen notable increases in its budget this year.

“A big chunk of my budgets, at least the police, firefighters, animal control etc, its people; this is our greatest asset, ”said Pat Rotert, director of public safety.

Rotert said that in speaking with officers in the department and during exit interviews when staff members resign, the lack of training and advanced training was a recurring problem. He said a proposed 29-week training course could cost more than $ 30,000 to $ 35,000, including agent salaries during that time, but the skills officers learned as well as their sense of preparedness should keep the lower agent turnover rate. He said $ 12,000 had been budgeted and asked for an additional $ 15,000.

“If I can keep one person – two people – over a three to five year period, I’m paying for that investment, so we think it’s worth the effort to get more advanced training for the officers.” he said.

Rotert said some vehicles in the Police Department’s fleet are expected to be replaced in the coming years, but in the meantime the service will need to update some of its equipment such as new Tasers and a Patrol Rifle and Chest. strong for the school resource officer.

“At the moment, they should try to get to their car to access these tools,” Rotert said.

Overall, the fire department has seen its budget cut.

“$ 3,000 to $ 5,000 on things that we just looked at that we were able to say, ‘historically we don’t spend the money so we can just cut it down. “

Two areas that increased for the fire department were security / clothing / food from $ 12,500 to $ 17,750, and minor tools / equipment from $ 8,000 to $ 15,000.

Last year, the ministry had to replace a lot of personal protective equipment as everything was coming to its end of use date simultaneously, forcing the ministry to scramble to find grants to help pay for the major overhaul.

“We made these big purchases last year, and now we’re going to move on to maintenance where we don’t come back to you with a $ 175,000 project,” Rotert said.

Also note the library budget.

With Lawrence County officials planning to cut contributions to libraries serving Lawrence County, Grace Balloch Memorial Library Director Amber Wilde said the pullout could be catastrophic.

“We would be the only county in the Black Hills region without county-wide library services,” Wilde said. “They’ve gone back and their preliminary budget shows a 10% decrease for Lawrence County libraries instead of 30%. No word on the long term goal at this point, but that would mean a decrease in our funding in Spearfish by $ 23,042. “

In total, DeNeui said there was a deficit of $ 3,578,219 on city spending in 2022 and forecast revenue.

“We have to budget both the expenses and the income,” she said. “The money that we have on hand at the end of 2021, we will use it to cover $ 3.5 million to pay all expenses for next year, as our expenses are greater than our budgeted income for. next year. “

DeNeui estimates that by the end of this year the city will have around $ 27.3 million in cash, after factoring in the $ 3.5 million shortfall in credits, which will leave the city a surplus of about $ 23.8 million above the city’s reserve requirements. According to the treasurer’s latest report, the city has $ 49,634,631 in cash, with $ 5,655,554 in reserve funds.

“We’re systematically cautious about our revenue estimates… because we have a lot of construction projects going on, so you save money for those and you finish those construction projects with those dollars,” DeNeui said.

This extra money could come in handy in 2022, as several pieces of equipment had to be removed from the final designs of the Sky Ridge Sports Complex in order to stay on budget.

“Our parks council is working really hard to secure donations for those items such as shade structures and playgrounds that we have taken out of the offering, but this will be an opportunity if the council decides they would like to purchase. those articles that change the amount of debt that I will have to issue, ”DeNeui said.

Last year, the city passed a $ 10 million bond for the overall construction of the complex and part of the cost of the street for housing development. Next year, DeNeui said the city was approved for an additional $ 6 million bond, but would assess how much is needed to complete the entire project.

“I didn’t want to issue all of the $ 16 million debt in 2020 because then we are paying interest on debt that we didn’t really need yet,” she said. “So we split it into two bond issues from the start.”

While trying to predict the city’s financial future is itself a tall order, the past few years have been particularly daunting due to the pandemic. However, DeNeui said, as Spearfish braced for the worst financially, she was pleasantly surprised at how well the community was doing.

“We’re sort of out of that (frame of thinking) just because we didn’t see major impacts in the first round,” she said. “We have had to change our possessions across town doing more things electronically and online and with contactless processes, but overall our income has not changed.”

When assessing sales tax trends, DeNeui said she was shocked at how little the pandemic had affected Spearfish’s economy.

“We are currently nearing our budget estimates for sales tax and we still have two and a half months left for the year,” she said. “I hope the community retail businesses also show that people are still buying and that we are buying locally. … I think that’s where our community got stronger.

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