This article has been revised to reflect the following correction: The fireworks payment came from the Future Fund, not the state’s unemployment fund.
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — KELOLAND News has learned that the cost of last year’s 4th of July celebration at Mount Rushmore totaled at least 1.5 million dollars.
People lucky enough to win tickets to get into Mount Rushmore National Memorial last July 3 didn’t have to pay, other than a one dollar handling fee.
7,500 people got the privilege of seeing South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem host then President Donald Trump for a rare fireworks show.
KELOLAND News has learned that Governor Noem used money from the Future Fund. That’s a tax that businesses pay for economic development. It was created in 1987 by taking a portion of what businesses paid for unemployment tax and diverting it to a new purpose.
$350,000 went to Pyro Spectaculars Inc. The fund was created during the Mickelson administration to pay for things like school labs and job training programs.
But KELOLAND News has found that the biggest chunk of money went to the federal agency responsible for managing the monument, the National Park Service.
State government spending records filed with the state auditor’s office show the governor’s administration authorized transfers totaling $470,000. $300,000 on July 1, 2020, and $170,000 on July 22nd.
The payments went to the National Park Service office in Omaha, Nebraska.
That information wasn’t previously disclosed.
So far, it doesn’t look like there will be a repeat performance this 4th of July. In March the National Park Service rejected South Dakota’s request to allow fireworks at Mt Rushmore citing potential risks to the monument, Native American objections and the Pandemic.