South Dakota board approves higher rates for lodging and meals for state government employees

Capitol News Bureau
KELO money 100 dollar bills

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — The decision was unanimous Tuesday..

State government employees should be better compensated for lodging, lunch and supper In South Dakota.

The state Board of Finance voted 8-0 for approval.

The next stop comes June 3 when the proposed changes go to the Legislature’s Rules Review Committee.

Nathan Sanderson told Finance Board members Tuesday he would wait on popping the champagne cork until after he sees what the six lawmakers do.

Sanderson is executive director for the South Dakota Retailers Association. Among its 4,000 members are many restaurants.

“This is long overdue,” he said.

The retailers were one of the groups seeking the changes.

Another was the South Dakota Hotel and Lodging Association. Katie Sieverding represented its members Tuesday.

She thanked the state board on behalf of her board members who were meeting Tuesday too.

“The board is very, very excited,” Sieverding said about her group’s leaders.

In-state rates for lodging currently are $55 per night from September through May and $70 per night for June, July and August.

The proposed rate would be $75 per night throughout the year.

In-state meals would stay at $6 for breakfast. But lunch would go up, from $11 to $14, and supper too, from $15 to $20.

Lodging out of state would remain $175 per night and breakfast would continue at $10. But lunch out of state would go from $14 to $18, and supper from $21 to $28.

Secretary of State Steve Barnett, who was state auditor the past eight years, said the state board’s goal has been to make more lodging available to state employees throughout the year.

“It does seem like a somewhat large increase,” Barnett acknowledged.

In the past, representatives of the lodging industry weren’t able to guarantee there would be more rooms, he said.

Sanderson made that promise in his remarks after the vote Tuesday.

Tony Venhuizen, a senior aide to Governor Kristi Noem, said the retailers and the lodging group successfully lobbied the Legislature to put more money into state government’s budget for the 2020 fiscal year that starts July 1.

Venhuizen said it was up to the Finance Board members now to decide whether to carry through. “I think that was the intent with the funding,” he said.

The package will cost an estimated $2.1 million, according to an estimate by the state Bureau of Finance and Management.

South Dakota hotels, motels and other lodging establishments would see about $800,000 more per year.

South Dakota restaurants could get another $1 million a year.

The increases would also apply for work trips state employees make to places outside South Dakota. Out of state businesses could see more than $300,000.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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