Along with the snowstorm Tuesday, Dec. 29, the Union County Board of County Commissioners held its last meeting of the year. One of the main concerns was the updates to the Main Exhibit building for shooting sports; the other was increasing tax valuations for the county.

Union County Fair Manager Janet Lingle said she was informed that parent volunteers were going to tear down the EMT room on the fairgrounds to utilize the space for 4-H shooting sports. She wanted to confer with the commissioners to make sure they wanted to keep the room as well.

“This is a multi-building, we use it for multiple things,” commissioner Rich Headid said. “We can’t just tear it down to meet their needs only... we’re spending a lot of money. I don’t think we should be tearing out something that we can use.”

“I think that they can get started without it and we’ll gradually work into it,” commissioner Mike Dailey said. “They don’t need 100 percent immediately. We’re spending a lot of money to get them at 60-70 percent of what they need and down the road we’ll improve it. They don’t need 100 percent right away.”

Director of Equalization Dawn Steckelberg brought news of a county-wide tax increase in valuations that ruffled some commissioners’ feathers. The state requires the county be at 85 percent and Union County is currently at 82.11.

Steckelberg stated that if the county increases tax valuations by three percent on all non-ag structures, it would make her barely compliant with the state.

“It was the least painful option,” Steckelberg said.

She explained that if the county didn’t do anything to get to 85 percent, the state would send her a letter, then come in the next year and raise it to 90-100 percent.

“One of the worst mistakes that was ever made was to let the legislature set local tax,” commissioner Kevin Joffer said. “When you put it in law, her office and we get blamed for these sort of things, but the state requires it in their law to make these increments. So really we need to be directing our frustrations at our state legislators to address this.”

The South Dakota Department of Revenue website explanation reads: “All property is to be assessed at full and true value. Then the property is equalized to 85 percent for property tax purposes. If the county is at 100 percent of full and true value, then the equalization factor (the number to get to 85 percent of taxable value) would be .85. For example: A home with a full and true value of $230,000 has a taxable value ($230,000 multiplied by .85) of $195,500.”

See full story in this week’s Leader-Courier.