Keystone BBB discussion prompts first reading

By Leslie Silverman


A proposal to change the wording of town ordinance 35.10 drew strong opposition from citizens at the most recent Keystone Town Board reading.

The ordinance currently reads, “(t)he annual proceeds from the municipal gross receipts tax (Bed, Board, and Booze Tax) shall be earmarked, budgeted, appropriated and distributed as follows. The Keystone Area Chamber of Commerce shall be entitled to 50 percent of the annual revenue from the tax.”

The change would be inline with what many neighboring towns do.

“It’s just the right thing to do. I spent some time looking at most of the tourist towns and attractions in the state of South Dakota and I came up with a list of towns that actually don’t earmark for the chamber,” said Rick Brandfas, Keystone Town Board president. These include Hill City, Sturgis and Spearfish.

According to Brandfas only Custer specifically earmarks funds to its chamber of commerce.

“Every year the chamber is under financial review,” Brandfas added. “If the chamber budget is earmarked what we’ve seen in the last two years is very loose fiscal responsibility and accountability. This board is not taking the money away from the chamber. What I’d like to see is the current (chamber) board members turn rusty metal into gold. In the past the chamber budget has not been reviewed by us line item by line item. I don’t remember seeing a comprehensive budget and there should have been.”

The discussion included many in opposition to the change and some who felt the changes were punitive.

Resident Derek Alexander voiced his opposition.

“This new ordinance is no good,” Alexander said. “It does not protect the businesses whatsoever. This current ordinance protects us.”

Tim Johnson, who owns properties in several municipalities including Keystone, raised his concerns by saying, “you really can’t compare us to other cities. We need to structure what’s best for Keystone.”

Many asked for the board to table the discussion for several months.

Trustee Sandi McLain expressed her objection to the ordinance.

“We need to table this,” she said. “I feel this is very punitive. I’m speaking as a business owner in this community.”

Her motion to table the ordinance until April or May was not seconded.

“This ordinance is incentive to the chamber. The chamber has to submit a budget every year. This is all about accountability,” said trustee Kwinn Neff.

Trustee Lynette Gohsman motioned to do a first reading of the ordinance at the next reading. This motion carried with McLain being the sole nay vote.

“I just hope that you realize there can be serious unintended consequences if it does impact our ability to hire a good director by pushing it at this point rather than delaying it,” said chamber board president Julie Smorgewiecz.

The first reading of the town’s new loading/unloading ordinance was read and discussed.

The addition to the current ordinance allows for temporary loading and unloading on Winter Street to not exceed 30 minutes.

“What happens if they can’t be done in a half hour, because a lot of our vendors can’t?” asked Lisa Schaeffer owner of the Red Garter. “If you’ve got a big load of stuff. If you’re unloading a lot of liquor it’s going to take them more than 30 minutes to get it through the door and down the stairs. Forty-five minutes would be better.”

The ordinance seems to impact restaurants  more than gift shops, many of which line Winter Street. The board agreed to look into changing the amount of time to 45 minutes and to do another first reading at the next meeting.

The price of cemetery plots was again discussed by the board.

“There’s been some people that are not from Keystone that have been buying cemetery plots. What we don’t want to happen for all those plots to be purchased by an outside entity and not have a resting place for locals and family members. We’re trying to come up with a price to raise it to for outsiders. It’s all going to be under discussion,” said Brandfas.

The board agreed to form a committee to look into the town’s options which include things like limiting the number of plots families can purchase or charging more for people from out of town with no real ties to Keystone.

The sewer plant project is completed according to public works superintendent Jerry Przybylski.

The town is waiting to get a substantial walk through of the project to take place. There have been issues with parking on Bullion Street. Extra spaces for residents in that area have been created.

Three rounds of budget hearings take place in August. The first hearing is Aug. 14 at 5 p.m. The second takes place Aug. 21 after the town board meeting. The third happens Aug. 28 at 3 p.m.

The next meeting of the Keystone Town Board takes place Aug. 21 at 9 a.m.