Lake County commissioners did not jump at a proposal presented by Madison Mayor Marshall Dennert in which the city agreed to assume maintenance and snow removal on the SD-34 bypass. Instead, at Tuesday morning's meeting, they questioned the conditions.
Dennert presented a five-point proposal which included two sections of roadway that have been disputed since the state Department of Transportation rerouted SD-34 through Madison. Neither the city nor the county has assumed full responsibility for the truck bypass or 233rd Street east of Madison, also known as Old Highway 34.
"It's kind of out there in limbo," Dennert said, indicating a "handshake deal" had been made at some point regarding Old Highway 34. He understood the city was to handle snow removal from Airport Road east to a fence identified on a map, and the county was to handle maintenance.
The lack of maintenance is a concern at this point because the Community Center is holding the MADMAN Triathlon on Sept. 19.
"They'll be riding bikes out there and there are some potholes," Dennert indicated, noting City Commissioner Mike Waldner raised the issue.
He said Lake County Highway Superintendent Nels Nelson was approached and expressed the belief that section of roadway was the city's responsibility, not the county's.
"I'm not here to argue whose road it is. I'm here to propose a plan on both of these roads," Dennert stated.
The five-point proposal said the city would fill potholes on the north side of Old Highway 34 in the disputed area and would assume maintenance and snow removal for the bypass. In exchange, the county was to assume maintenance and snow removal on the disputed section of Old Highway 34; cede 100% of jurisdiction for zoning, subdivision regulation and building codes within 1,320 feet from the section line on the bypass; and pay the city $350,000 for future road repairs on the bypass.
Commissioner Deb Reinicke asked why the county would both cede jurisdiction and pay the city for future road repairs. Dennert indicated the DOT has a project planned to remove the hill from the bypass, and the city felt the county should help bear the cost of that improvement.
"We never had any information on that," Reinicke responded.
Several commissioners, including Reinicke, noted county revenue is limited when compared to city revenue.
"We don't have the resources or funds like the city does," she said.
Commission Chair Kelli Wollmann expressed a similar sentiment, noting the county already has to augment the road and bridges fund out of the general fund because income generated from earmarked fees don't cover the work which needs to be done.
"We only get 20% of property taxes collected. We don't get any sales tax. We can't dream up a sales tax of any sort. All we are statutorily required to do comes out of the 20%," she said.
As the spirited discussion proceeded, Dennert repeated several times that his goal was to start the dialogue, that he wasn't looking for an answer "today or a month from today."
Commissioner Dennis Slaughter said the commission would be happy to work with the city, but the proposal benefited the city while creating more obligations for the county.
"All `the county will' are expenses we can't handle," he indicated.
Wollmann agreed the county would like to work something out and added the opinion that in the future, agreements shouldn't be made with a friendly handshake.
"I would like it written down on paper and cut and dried," she said.
Both parties agreed it was necessary to meet to discuss possible solutions. A bypass committee which was formed several years ago will be resurrected to look at options.
In other business, the commissioners:
-- Approved a rental application for the use of the 4-H Center for a celebration of life for Janet Dickerson on Sept. 13.
-- Approved a three-month trial with Feeding South Dakota for the use of the parking lot at the Lake County 4-H grounds.
Shelli Gust, commission administrative officer, expressed concerns about congestion, but Buildings and Grounds Superintendent Dave Hare said that on a trial basis "it would be a good thing to do." He said Sheriff Tim Walburg also supported the application.
"Under the current situation, I think we should do what we can to work with them," Slaughter said.
-- Approved a temporary special malt beverage retailer's license for St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church on Sept. 19. The parish will be holding a drive-in dinner movie event at St. Thomas House on Lake Herman.
In response to questioning from commissioners, Walburg said participants could not drink the alcoholic beverages in their vehicles because to do so would be in violation of state law prohibiting open containers in motor vehicles.
-- Adopted the provisional budget which has been published in The Daily Leader. Auditor Paula Barrick said no changes have been made since publication. The current budget stands at $9,635,765 with $4,420,989 coming from property taxes.
-- Approved a property tax abatement for an elderly or disabled resident who qualified for the assessment freeze but missed the application deadline. The amount abated was $310.13.
-- Approved a decision by Gust to revoke a job offer because the applicant did not satisfactorily complete the pre-employment screening.
-- Approved a utility occupancy application from Sioux Valley Energy to replace existing underground powerline.
-- Chose from among eight applicants six to serve on the county roads and bridges advisory committee. In making the decision, commissioners considered a number of factors, including the qualifications of the applicants, whether it would be a conflict of interest to have individuals serve on the committee who are related to commissioners, and whether members should live in rural areas of the county.
Slaughter expressed the opinion that county residents needed to be educated on the challenges of maintaining county roads. He said "revenues and expenses don't intersect anywhere."
The following were selected to serve on the advisory board: Charlie Johnson, Dale Thompson, Blake Neu, Misty Alfson, Jay Mennis and Daniel Lindholm.
-- Adopted the Findings of Fact regarding the Hodne Homes, LLC, variance application which was approved in April 2018 and again in July 2020 after the South Dakota Supreme Court ruled the Lake County Board of Adjustment had not considered whether the variance was necessary due to an "extraordinary and exceptional" situation on the property.
The situation identified in the Findings of Fact related to dealer requirements for selling boats by manufacturers such as Crestliner and Manitou. Specifically, "the setback rules and limitations on the size of buildings in the LP-3 district would not accommodate a showroom large enough for storage of these boats and the Applicant could not have made the building any smaller and still met such dealer requirements."
-- Went into executive session where they discussed five personnel and three pending litigation matters.