County hints at opt-out during 2020 budget process

By: 
Dave Baumeister, County correspondent
SIOUX FALLS – Be warned: According to a man identifying himself as Donald Hoff, “Aliens must leave!”
At least, that is the advice he announced at the beginning of the June 4 Minnehaha Commission meeting before walking out the commission meeting room door.
This “dire warning” came right after the room was seated following the Pledge of Allegiance, when a man, estimated to be in his 50’s wearing a white polo-type shirt, walked into the second row of seats and said, very loudly, “My name is Donald Hoff. Aliens must leave,” before turning around and walking out.
He was followed by at least one deputy from the sheriff’s office who later said that he walked out, got into his car and drove away.
At the end of the meeting, several people gathered and chuckled in wonder about the statement.
One person in attendance questioned if the man was referring to “illegal aliens, legal ones or ones from Mars, Alpha Centauri or the planet Krypton.”
But apart from that, there was very little business at the June 4 meeting, as most of the commissioner’s time is now consumed by 2020 budget discussions.
The other “warning,” this time coming from commissioners, is about the possibility of a property tax freeze opt-out.
Although the commission has not gone on record to propose an opt-out, over the past few weeks, there has been some mention of the opt-opt as “probable” as they begin the 2020 budget process.
“We are about to start into some deep work on the 2020 budget,” Commissioner Jeff Barth said at the May 28 meeting, “and I really hope our citizens pay attention, because it’s going to be a tough year, and it’s important that questions be asked and answered as we go through the process, and (people) don’t come back and ask questions after it has all been approved.”
At that meeting, county administrator Carol Muller outlined upcoming dates in the 2020 budgeting process for the next few months, saying that “it all starts June 4.”
On that Tuesday afternoon, commissioners heard from the sheriff’s and state’s attorney’s offices about their department’s staffing needs for next year.
Two days later, they heard from six more departments about their needs to increase staffing.
At a special meeting on Wednesday, June 19, also scheduled for 8 a.m., commissioners will continue budget discussions, and July 8 is currently set aside for an extra meeting, should it be needed.
The last regular meeting for the budget is planned for Monday, July 8. This would be the last meeting prior to the regular July 9 Minnehaha County Commission meeting, which would be the last date before any opt-out would need to be proposed.
During the county’s 2019 budget process, the possibility of an opt-out was noted in several instances, especially in regard to the $40-plus million jail expansion; commissioners, however, did not want to lock the county into a position of taking an opt-out before it was absolutely needed.
At that time, though, they strongly felt the 2020 budget process would reflect the need.
However, the possibility is why Barth made the call for the public to pay attention to the upcoming budget process as it is happening.
Commission chair Jean Bender echoed Barth’s comments and suggested the public get involved.
All regular Tuesday meetings have time set aside for general public comment and questions for items not on the agenda. Plus, the public can always talk about any regular agenda items that occur.
Although, it is strongly suggested that even if one is talking about “aliens,” they wait until the time slotted for public comments.

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