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Administration Building

The Pennington County Administration building in downtown Rapid City.

The Pennington County Commission decided Tuesday to retain a cost-of-living pay raise for county employees rather than save nearly $1 million by cutting it.

During a regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday at the county’s Administration Building in Rapid City, the commission voted 5-0 to keep its provisional budget for 2020 intact, with a 2.4 percent cost-of-living pay increase for employees.

During a previous meeting, Commissioner Mark DiSanto had asked Auditor Cindy Mohler to calculate the savings that could be derived from cutting the cost-of-living raises.

Mohler subsequently prepared a memo showing that eliminating the cost-of-living raises would save $975,980 in the county’s general fund.

Cost-of-living raises are intended to counteract the effects of inflation. A common measure of inflation, the Consumer Price Index, rose 1.8 percent between July 2018 and July 2019, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Tuesday's vote on the county's provisional budget was not a final action, because the adoption of a provisional budget is only one step in the process of adopting a final, official budget. The next public discussion in the budgeting process will be Sept. 3, when the commission will conduct a required public hearing. The commission could take final action on the budget at that meeting, or could postpone final action to as late as Sept. 30.

The county’s total provisional budget for 2020 is $103.97 million. The budget would increase a hypothetical Pennington County property owner’s taxes by $4.80 per $100,000 of a property’s assessed value.

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Contact Seth Tupper at seth.tupper@rapidcityjournal.com

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