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SF Mayor Surprised Panel Killed 3rd Penny Plan

February 11, 2010, 9:08 PM by Ben Dunsmoor

SF Mayor Surprised Panel Killed 3rd Penny Plan
PIERRE, SD - It took a South Dakota legislative committee an hour and a half to listen to testimony and then vote to derail funding for a Sioux Falls Events Center that's been in the works for more than a year.

With a 10-3 vote the House Local Government Committee voted down a proposal that would have allowed cities to vote and raise the sales tax by another penny.

92 communities had supported the plan to add a third penny sales tax through a public election. The money would have been used to pay for major projects. City officials from Mitchell, Beresford, and Sturgis all testified about how the added tax would help their cities. Sioux Falls was the main backer of the bill hoping to use the money for a 150 million dollar event center, but those plans were killed along with the bill.

 "I don't know what the next option really is, and that's unfortunate because Sioux Falls is such a forward thinking city and Sioux Falls has been such a leader in growth and helping the state," Sioux Falls Mayor Dave Munson said.

Sioux Falls Mayor Dave Munson was surprised by Thursday's vote.

Opponents of the plans were shocked as well. Theresa Stehly opposed the plan since it was first revealed.

"I was. Yes, very surprised. I just thought there would be more people in favor of it," Stehly said.

Lawmakers who voted against the plan said a recession is not the right time to allow cities to raise taxes. 

"There was no one that I talked with, and that I've been talking with, these last few months who supported raising the sales tax to pay for the events center," Stehly said.

Mayor Munson says there really isn't any other efficient option to fund a $150 million dollar facility. He says he was more shocked that the South Dakota Department of Revenue voiced its opposition to the plan. A Department of Revenue asked that cities not raise sales tax because the sales tax might need to be raised across the state to balance the budget.

"To me as an individual it sounds like they might be looking at tapping into that penny because otherwise I would think that they would want cities to have this opportunity to help them," Munson said.

But the opportunity has passed for the current events center plan after its funding was rejected.

Stehly says the city should now look at renovating the arena, or a smaller, scaled back events center plan. Munson says at this point he isn't sure what the next step for an events center would be.

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