State Historical Society plans to distribute more Deadwood grants and pull down fund’s reserves

Capitol News Bureau

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — Deadwood gambling taxes must provide $100,000 per year to a fund overseen by the South Dakota State Historical Society, with the money used for making grants to projects in other communities. After three decades, the fund has quietly built up a surplus that now stands at $219,000.

The state historic preservation officer, Ted Spencer, told the society’s trustees Friday he wants them to give away substantially more the next two years and get the balance down to $100,000.

“Great news,” trustee Sean Flynn of Mitchell said.

The Deadwood city commission meanwhile also has sharply reduced the gambling tax revenue it has voluntarily shared with other cities since 2001. The amount dropped from $250,000 to $100,000 to $50,000.

The state trustees sent a message last September that Deadwood officials needed to reconsider. The general topic came up again at the April meeting.

“I’m happy to see Deadwood finally heard us talking,” trustee John Fowler of Elk Point said Friday.

Spencer said Deadwood got the message. “They’re scared straight. They’re going to leave it at that and possibly down the road look at some increases.”

The conversation turned back to Spencer’s proposal. “Seems like a good step forward,” trustee Brian Sandvig of Milbank said.

Trustee Jennifer Winter of Pierre, noting that “1989 was a bit ago,” wondered about asking the Legislature to “bump up” the $100,000 that the state law requires. “Sometimes the statute no longer reflects what modern costs and needs are,” she said.

But Spencer said he considers Deadwood gambling taxes a “zero-sum” situation. He said any increase the society might get would take money away from other state departments that receive Deadwood revenue.

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