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Potential Walmart Could Help School District

February 21, 2012, 9:55 PM by Brady Mallory

Potential Walmart Could Help School District
HARRISBURG, SD - Potential neighbors to a proposed Walmart in southeast Sioux Falls are speaking out against the retailer's plan to move in.  But leaders in Harrisburg say a supercenter would be welcome in that town.

A new Walmart in Harrisburg could have a big financial impact on the town and area children.

The project is not set in stone, and while Harrisburg does not have a definite spot for a Walmart, it does have plenty of open fields.

 "The spirit in Harrisburg is to really try to mature the city, grow the city and make it an attractive place to not only live, but to work," Lincoln County Commissioner Jim Schmidt said.

In about ten years, the town has grown from less than 500 to about 5,000 people. Walmart would bring more convenience to the growing town and could also generate hundreds of thousands of dollars in property taxes.

"Avera Heart Hospital is the largest taxpayer in Lincoln County because of the footprint they leave. The other is an insurance company. I'm sure if Walmart came in, with the size they're talking about, they would eclipse both of them," Schmidt said.

Lincoln County would make around 16 cents per every property tax dollar, and Harrisburg would get a nickel per tax dollar.

The rest of the money, about 79 cents, would be funneled into the schools. With the school district growing by about 300 students a year, it does not hurt to have the money for extra space for all those students.

"Next year we'll surpass 3,000 students in the district. In the last five years, we've built an elementary school, high school and large addition to an elementary school," Superintendent of Harrisburg Schools Jim Holbeck said. 

Up next is a new elementary and middle school on the south side of Sioux Falls. Though the potential property tax would not cover any current projects, like the $30 million already spent on these schools, it could be used for future developments.  Holbeck estimates Harrisburg will need a new addition to the high school and yet another elementary school in the coming years.

"We'll keep building schools around here. It doesn't seem to slow down," Holbeck said.

Holbeck said the potential site for Walmart in Sioux Falls along 69th Street is still in the Harrisburg School District.  Even if the store ends up at that location, the property tax would generate funds for future projects in Harrisburg. 

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