PIERRE | Township boards of supervisors could be getting broader ability to raise money for their local highways, roads, bridges and culverts.
Legislation that passed its first test Thursday grants townships the authority to levy an additional tax of up to 50 cents per $1,000 of property value.
The House Taxation Committee wrangled for two meetings on the topic. The final version emerged on a vote of 11-3.
The original proposal from Rep. Burt Tulson, R-Lake Norden, sought an additional $1 tax per $1,000 and would have given counties and townships the authority to levy the extra tax.
The committee passed several amendments, cutting the extra levy down to a maximum of 50 cents and removing counties.
Opponents of the legislation said the plan was flawed because the levies wouldn’t be subject to referral to voters.
But Rep. Jim Peterson, D-Revillo, said that wasn’t true for townships. He said the levy would be put to a vote at the township’s annual general meeting.
Peterson suggested that counties be removed from the legislation rather than having it defeated altogether.
His explanation seemed to save the bill. Three committee members changed sides after counties were amended out.
“I do want the voters to have that ability if they choose,” Rep. Isaac Latterell, R-Tea, said.
Rep. Lance Russell, R-Hot Springs, still opposed the bill but offered the amendment that Peterson suggested.
“The counties aren’t advocating for this. I want to make sure the counties don’t have this option without voter input,” Russell said.
The legislation, HB1189, now heads to the full House of Representatives for debate.
“I trust you are still good with carrying it on the floor,” the committee’s chairman, Rep. Brock Greenfield, R-Clark, said to Tulson. “I think we had a pretty positive, you know, discourse.”
Tulson thanked the committee. “We went into extra innings. In baseball terms you’ve thrown me a curve ball. The game’s still on,” he said.
At its original hearing Tuesday, several supporters testified. They included Julie Johnson of Absolutely Aberdeen, Dick Howard of the state association of towns and townships, Deb Mortenson on behalf of the highway contractors and Brown County Highway Superintendent Jan Weismantel.
The only opposition came from the state Revenue Department on behalf of the Daugaard administration.