Meade County Commissioners spent much of their five-hour Tuesday meeting in discussion and listening to reports, opting to save a few big decisions when information is available.
One of those discussions was on the Discretionary Formula, which was changed due to a state law passed in the last legislative session and that went into effect July 1.
The law states that “any structure classified pursuant to this section, shall, following construction, be valued for taxation purposes in the usual manner.” However, county commissioners are able to adopt any formula for assessed value for tax purposes, which could include five tax years following the construction of a building.
Previously, Meade County offered a tax-free structure for the first five years of business, often referred to as a 0-0-0-0-0 formula. Business owners who built or moved buildings in the past few months with the previous formula came to the meeting and expressed their thoughts on how it affected their business decisions.
“This was a big incentive to us building here; it’s part of the reason we built here,” said Chris Bergman, owner of Scooptown Car Wash in Sturgis that opened in May.
Bergman said when he started building the facility, he was under the impression he’d have this deal.
Many others, including the owner of the Knuckle Saloon and the owner of a business that promotes the local foods movement, said the same thing.
Amanda Anglin, executive director for the Sturgis Economic Development Corp, said the previous formula is one of the most attractive things Sturgis is able to offer when recruiting businesses.
“We’re always competing with neighboring states, counties and other cities,” she said during the meeting. “Anything we can do to help grow our tax base is important.”
She said she’s heard that many businesses considering coming to the area have put plans on hold and are waiting for the commissioners to make a decision.
Sturgis City Manager Daniel Ainslie and Summerset City Administrator Lonnie Harmon echoed many of the same concerns, mentioning school district expansions wouldn’t have happened without the formula and businesses putting building plans on hold.
Board chairman Ted Seaman said he thinks it’s beneficial for the county to continue with a formula similar to the one it’s used for the past five years.
“I really feel, overall, the citizens of Meade County are going to benefit,” he said. “We’ve looked and seen evidence of a lot of millions of dollars in Meade County because of the discretionary formula, but I want to do it right.”
Commissioners decided to revisit the issue at the next meeting on Aug. 28.
The board also decided to revisit the discussion on development in Tax Increment Financing District No. 2 at a later date, asking lawyer Kent Hagg, who presented on the matter, and his associates to return with another proposal for a county shop location.
The county shop is part of phase three of a project plan the commissioners approved in 2015. The plan estimated $485,000 for land acquisition and construction of a new county shop and related costs. According to the developer’s agreement, the developer must donate up to three acres to the county for the construction of the shop.
Commissioner Talbot Wieczorek was the most vocal about having issues with the placement of the county shop, saying the location made no sense, although commissioners Doreen Creed and Richard Liggett brought up issues with the location first.
Liggett said he expected the shop to be off of an existing county road, such as near 142nd and Elk Creek.
Commissioners also discussed and decided to revisit the speed limit change request policy, which will create a standard process for residents to follow if they want the board to change speed limits.
During the meeting, the board approved a resolution to change a polling place. The White Owl Community Center, which was used in the 2020 primary election, will now be the voting locations for precincts Union #40 and Marcus #41. According to the meeting notes, 105 voters will be affected and sent letters to let them know about the change.
A public hearing was set for 10:30 a.m. Aug. 25 to determine if the county Highway Department can be contracted to perform maintenance on private roads. A bid date was set for the same day but at 10 a.m. for the High Meadows Road Drainage and Morris Creek bridge replacement projects.
The board also approved the CARES Act resolution, which will allow them to be reimbursed for COVID-19 expenses. It also approved an open fire burn ban.
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