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Failed Bill Leaves Towns Scrambling For Funding

February 12, 2010, 4:58 PM by Erica Johnson

Failed Bill Leaves Towns Scrambling For Funding
BERESFORD, SD - A decision in Pierre is having a ripple effect across South Dakota. A House Committee killed a bill that would have allowed communities to vote on a third penny sales tax.  Now cities are scrambling to come up with funding for projects and some of them are urgent.

Like many South Dakota communities, Beresford's infrastructure has seen much better days. The water line system is more than 60 years old. The sewer is more than 100. They're falling apart and need a major overhaul, which would cost $750,000.

On top of that, Beresford's swimming pool is leaking. That project has a $3 million price tag. The mayor says they all could have benefited from the extra penny tax.

“We've had five breaks this winter and every time we have a water break and we go down and dig it out. There's the break and as you clean off the pipe, there's some more weak areas,” Beresford Mayor Jim Fedderson said.

It's a problem Fedderson says the city of Beresford is becoming all too familiar with. Break after break has left parts of the town without water.  One street has had to be dug up twice in the past few months. While it's a big problem, it's also an expensive fix.

“There are about 4,000 feet of water pipeline that has to be replaced this summer. That has to be done. Where's the money going to come from? We really don't have that so we have to come up with a way to make that happen,” Fedderson said.

Along with thousands of feet of water pipe, an additional ten miles of cast iron water pipe needs to be repaired. The city also needs to replace a century old sewer system and a leaky swimming pool.

Fedderson says if the citizens would have been allowed to vote on adding a third penny to the sales tax, Beresford could have taken in another $325,000 a year, enough to pay off the water system in three years and the pool in nine.

“Quite an issue to try to draw businesses to town and that's how you grow and if we don't have the infastructure and aren't ready for these businesses, we're dead in the water,” Fedderson said.

Fedderson says the city will work to find a way to pay for the water pipe replacement. The swimming pool will be put on hold.

Towns that supported House Bill 1198:
Alexandria Arlington Avon Baltic Beresford
Box Elder Brandon Bryant Burke Canistota
Canton Chamberlain Clark Clear Lake Colman
Colton Columbia Custer Dallas Edgemont
Elkton Eureka Faith Faulkton Flandreau
Florence Fort Pierre Geddes Gettysburg Hartford
Hecla Herried Hill City Hosmer Howard
Hurley Isabel Java Kadoka Keystone
Kimball Lake Andes Lake Preston Langford Lead
Lemmon Lennox Leola Letcher Madison
Menno Milbank Mission Mitchell Mobridge
Mt. Vernon New Underwood Newell Nisland North Sioux City
Parkston Phillip Pickstown Pierre Platte
Pollock Presho Redfield Roslyn Salem
Selby Sioux Falls Sisseton South Shore Spearfish
Stickney Sturgis Summerset Tea Vermillion
Viborg Wagner Wakonda Wall Ward
Waubay Webster White White Lake White River
Whitewood Willow Lake Wolsey Worthing  

*Information from the South Dakota Municipal League

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