Keystone budgets for bridge repair

By Kacie Svoboda

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For those concerned with the Swanzey Street bridge repair, the board’s decision at the second budget hearing on Thursday, Aug. 25, brought both good and bad news.

The city of Keystone typically sets aside $100,000 each year for bridge repairs. However, the 2017 budget will only have $50,000 set aside. Finance officer Vanessa Row took some of the 2017 monies and added them to the bridge repair budget to be used before the end of this year. This supplements the depleted 2016 budget, providing over $70,000 for the city to start repairing the Swanzey Street bridge before Dec. 31. Any remaining funds in January can be appropriated into the 2017 budget.

The board unanimously accepted this sub-budget along with the entire 2nd Cent Fund of $392,000 with a surplus of $28,500.

The board’s attempt to lower the $28,000 allotted within the 101 General Fund to cover city building utilities by cutting expenses at the Keystone Museum became a big discussion, resulting in the Holy Terror Days Association (HTDA) agreeing to pay for the museum’s December utilities.

Initially, Row had explained the board could save approximately $1,000 by winterizing the Keystone Museum. Approximately $3,000 of the utility sub-fund was earmarked for the building.

Attendee and Keystone Historical Society member Mike Trike also mentioned that turning the lights off could help defray expenses, as in his estimation the museum lights haven’t been off in the past five years.

Trustee Lynette Gohsman asked what the heat bill was two years ago.

“I don’t think it will be as much,” she commented.

Trustee Sandi McLain, who also is an active part of the Keystone Historical Society, agreed that last year’s utilities were exceptionally high, as the historical society made several improvements last winter, including installing a new exhibit and making several changes to existing displays.

However, there is one project that is slated for this winter. McLain said the museum staff is waiting to electronically inventory the museum’s collection in the off-season, as it has to be completed within the museum with access to the artifacts. This process hasn’t been endeavored since the 90s and would need to follow the HTDA’s popular October event and chief fundraiser, The Haunting of Keystone, pushing the cataloguing into November and December.

Board president Kwinn Neff asked if the HTDA would be willing to pay rent for the use of the city building for the Haunting.

McLain mentioned that the HTDA was contributing $7,000 for the museum’s roof repair. She also explained that the HTDA does cover the cost of utilities for the event and its months of set up and the organization also pays rent to the Keystone Historical Society, in the form of 10 percent of the Haunting’s gross profits.

Neff questioned why the historical society is paid rent when the building is owned by the city.

McLain stated it was because the Haunting coordinators and volunteers have to move the historical society objects. Neff thought the organization could just pay rent to the city if the Haunting went well, as the historical society rent was in addition to the budget the city provides to the organization.

Trike reminded the board that the historical society pays for the majority of the general maintenance required on the museum building.

“Do you realize the amount of good we do with that money?” questioned McLain.

After more discussion, a compromise was reached wherein the HTDA would pay for the museum’s December utilities to help offset city costs.

Trike thought this would work out nicely as the main time the organization would want to heat the building would be for another Victorian Christmas celebration during this month.

The board agreed to add the Bullion Street Water project as a line item for the 602 Water Fund’s $9,500 surplus. The city would help cover the cost of the much-needed new water line, as long as Bullion Street property owners agreed to add to this fund as a small charge to their utility bill. Neff would need to talk to the Black Hills Council about the arrangement between the city and the Bullion Street residents, but he suggested the city could cover 80 percent of the project’s cost and the resident’s could pay 20 percent.

Bullion Street residents Julie Mamrot and Mike Hackett were in attendance and wanted a set amount before committing.

The board understood this decision, but Neff wanted Mamrot and Hackett to talk to their neighbors and ensure they would all contribute to the project’s cause.

“Everyone in the subdivision has to agree to pay something,” Neff said. “Otherwise its not fair.”

About 10 members of the Keystone Chamber of Commerce attended the meeting due to concern about their 2017 budget.

Neff asked for a an ad expense breakdown, as $60,000 of the requested $111,611 was set to go to “ad agency.”

Chamber president Ben Brink said the big budget allowed the organizations more options to advertise throughout the year and that not all of it will go to TDG, the chamber’s marketing and public relations agency out of Deadwood.

Neff was also curious if long-term planning had been considered so that the chamber could put aside money, which could be utilized for a new visitor center.

“I don’t think we’d have a problem with that,” Brink said, “as long as it would still be ours.”

Brink also said the chamber was open to increasing the budget for event and was asking the new candidates for executive direction about possible ideas. Brink and chamber board member Tammy Gilbertson explained that a big issue with putting on Keystone events has been a lack of sponsorships and volunteering.

“We need people committed to the process to realize these events,” said Gilbertson.

Neff suggested that Keystone Senior Center treasurer Karen Root sit down with Row, himself and another trustee to set up a simple spreadsheet for the organization’s 2017 budget.

The Keystone Town Board completed their 2017 budget approval process on Monday, Aug. 29, with their third budget hearing.

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