SPEARFISH | Nearly 2,000 voters braved snowy streets Tuesday to reject annexation of more than one square mile of the Upper and Lower valleys.

Late Tuesday, Spearfish election officials said annexation failed by a vote of 1,225 (54.5 percent) to 1,020 (45.4 percent). Tuesday afternoon, Spearfish City Administrator Joe Neeb reported the city had received 584 absentee ballots, more than were cast in last April’s mayoral election.

The special election pitted pro-growth advocates against anti-annexation landowners, predominantly valley residents opposed to the city’s plans to annex 658 acres, increase the town’s size by 6 percent and add 1,653 new residents.

About 7,100 residents of the city’s three wards and some 1,100 registered voters in the area proposed for annexation were eligible to cast ballots, according to Jamie Hafner, city election coordinator. Late Tuesday, Hafner said nearly 24 percent of eligible city voters and more than 56 percent of eligible valley voters voted.

In town, election results showed more than 41 percent of voters rejected annexation, while more than 95 percent of Valley voters cast ballots against expanding the city. Only 27 valley residents voted in favor of the measure, compared with 522 against.

Jim Lee, who chaired the anti-annexation group Concerned Citizens of Spearfish, rejoiced Tuesday night when informed of the election tallies.

“I think it sends a clear message to the city that the people have voted,” Lee said. “It’s time they start paying attention to the needs of city residents before they start expanding out here.”

Lee praised the work of his grassroots organization and said they were able to counter misinformation issued by the city regarding the benefits of annexation.

“We are so lucky to have a large group of dedicated and talented people involved in the Concerned Citizens group,” he said. “You just can’t imagine how people out here feel about annexation. All of them were willing to give up their time to save our agriculture and to save their lifestyle.”

Mayor Dana Boke said Tuesday night that she accepted the decision of voters to overturn the Spearfish City Council’s decision to annex the Upper and Lower valleys.

“It was a bit of a surprise,” Boke said. “There were many misconceptions pulled from the annexation study that were taken out of context and some of the arguments were not accurate, but I believe in our democratic process and I accept the decision of our voters.”

The mayor called on civic groups to work together for a better Spearfish, despite the setback.

“As we move into the future still a divided city, it becomes more and more imperative that leadership groups focus on communication, collaboration and ensuring that the decisions made are focused primarily on the benefits to the people we serve,” she said. “While the division continues we must find a way to work together — the people of the city and the people of the valley — the future of Spearfish depends on it.”

(8) comments

Thinkster
Thinkster

In regards to the mayor's comments about the devision between town and valley...it seems to me that more than half of the no votes came from city residents. So where is the actual division, more like between citizens and government. I mean really what kind of mayor puts an ad in the paper to convince the towns people to vote a certain way.... one with an agenda. Its time to do what the people elected you to do...represent us dont dictate us and most of all stop fillin us full of fluff. People are smarter than you give them credit for. I am a city resident and I have no beef with the valley in fact I enjoy much of what the valley has to offer and for that matter many people from the valley are regular patrons of my business. You talk about us being one, seeing eye to eye, so stop creating false wars.

simplyput
simplyput

Have been annexed for 20 years - give or take - and we receive no additional city services!!
No road maintenance, snow removal, etc. City water and sewer would be at our expense.
So remind me again what the benefit is to being annexed??

creek is risin
creek is risin

I guess it is up to the lawyers to decide if the valley has paid their fair share.

sassy1
sassy1

Had the city taken the Valley they could have ignored the proposed 'needed' new infrastructure for up to 20 years (they already have their own totally functioning systems). All the while taking the increase in taxes, how fair is that? Paying in without receiving what was paid for? With the win of annexation they would just taken the sanitation district by condemning it, which already has proven to operate better then theirs, so that would need no taxes for improvement. I believe their plan all along is to get the extra monies to benefit realtors (like the mayors family) and developers. 4200 acres already sitting inside limits but without infrastructure is going to take money. So yes, City taxes will prob go up But then, you Sherlock should have been watching your checkbook. When Citizens elect people to represent them but never make sure they are truly acting on their behalf AND keeping what they are responsible for in working order, you cannot whine about it. They have been given signed/blank checks pretty much, unless those funds are monitored, they WILL spend however they want! This ugly election has pitted Valley against Town in that the Valley is presented as a more 3rd world country that is no better then leaches taking and never giving. that is not so and that is not right! We can set up a taxation or fees that will take care of funding needed...the Valley was just never asked to! No one likes to be made to feel they are less important or less human than others and that is just what the City did. Communication could have saved taxpayers thousands (studys, ,mailings etc) had they just tried a different approach. There is always a better way to do things then by force.

peppermint1900
peppermint1900

The mayor said “There were many misconceptions pulled from the annexation study that were taken out of context and some of the arguments were not accurate." Those misconceptions were that of the city and not the valley. We in the valley do pay our fair share, especially towards the Sanitation District, Maybe if the city would stop spending so much and start taking care of there infrastructure, the vote might have gone the other way. Look at how long it has taken the city to admit there is a problem with the sewer system, especially on 8th street. The city needs to correct all the problems, including sewer and snow removal, within the city limits before trying to annex more land that they cannot take care of.

Common Man
Common Man

Peppermint you hit the nail on the head. The city already can't seem to take care of what they currently have and just wanted the extra tax money that would have come into the coffers from the annexed property. This mayor has proven to be nothing more than a joke as she should have been cleaning house of some departments long ago. I know city employees who were hoping that there would be changes when she got elected but she has done absolutely nothing to address the issues within the city departments. The public works director and police chief are both too comfortable in their positions with both having way too much turnover in their departments. When there is that much turnover it is time to evaluate the department heads and send them packing if they are found to be the problem.

Sherlock
Sherlock

Well to those voters who voted no - Congratulations - remember that when your taxes go up.

Monkey68
Monkey68

Don't understand you comment, if we got annexed, our taxes would have went up.. none of us would mind paying in a little extra for emergency type services however.

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