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Commissioners select new chair and vice chair, approve salary adjustments for 2024

The Lincoln County Commissioners met Tuesday, January 2 in the Lincoln County Boardroom. With all members present, Commissioners heard agenda items including rezoning, appointing legal newspapers, setting commissioner wages and more. 

The first order of business for the new year was to select a chairperson and a vice chairperson. Commissioner Mike Poppens nominated Commissioner Jim Jibben as chairperson, seconded by Commissioner Joel Arends. 

“I would like to share with the commission that my doctors have scheduled a procedure for me this spring and I know there will be a few meetings that I won’t be able to attend in person, I will be calling and livestreaming, I just wanted to share that with you, and if it’s a problem with anyone, I will step down as chair right now, I want to be honest with the commission and the public, I don’t think it will interfere at all with being commissioner, but I will be able to participate,” Jibben said. Motion approved with Jibbens abstaining. 

Commissioner Tiffani Landeen nominated Commissioner Jim Schmidt to be the Vice Chair with a second by Poppens. Motion approved with Schmidt abstaining.

Commissioners heard the second reading and had a public hearing for an Ordinance of Lincoln County, SD, rezoning Lots 1, 2, and 3, Ninemile View Addition, NE1/4, Section 4-T99N-R49W from the A-1 Agricultural District and the RC Recreation/Conservation District to the RR Rural Residential District, and amending the Official Zoning Map of Lincoln County. 

The Planning Commission recommendation for approval failed 0-5. Planning Director, Toby Brown was present to represent the Planning Commission. 

“The subject property is approximately three miles to the East of Harrisburg. The property is identified as future agricultural area on the Comprehensive Plan. At the time the Comprehensive Plan was developed in 2005, this was the growth area for the City of Harrisburg, and as we are all aware, the City of Harrisburg has adopted a Comprehensive Plan that greatly expands their platting jurisdiction, so as noted this property is under the subdivision authority of the City of Harrisburg,” Brown said.

There are three parcels that are under petition that Brown has noted to be rezoned. 

“The three parcels are undeveloped at this time, they were part of a larger parcel that was recently platted by the City of Harrisburg,” he said. 

The applicant of the parcels submitted an application with the City to plat the three lots and worked with the township to secure access. Brown noted that the surrounding residents want to stick with the original Comprehensive Plan. Applicant, Rob Kurtenbach joined the meeting to answer any questions the commissioners had. 

“I am looking to rezone three lots from ag to rural residential to allow for one single family home to go on each lot. Each lot would be approximately three acres. This land is contiguous to existing rural residential land directly to the North,” said Kurtenbach.  

I do understand the decision of the Planning and Zoning Board, the Comprehensive Plan shows this as ag land, and they voted as such. I also believe in making the right decision for what the intended use of the land is and what the neighborhood is,” he said.  

After hearing both proponents and opponents on the matter, Chairman Jibben closed the public comment portion and asked for any more questions from the commissioners.

Commissioner Arends asked Brown if it would be possible to deny more than one building permit on the proposed location. 

“We don’t have jurisdiction over the subdivision planning of the property, so if the City of Harrisburg platted those lots, no we could not refuse a building permit on those lots if they met the minimum lot requirements,” Brown responded. 

Motion to approve the rezone by Poppens, seconded by Landeen. 

Motion failed 3-2.

Deputy Auditor, Cristen Standley requested board action to designate three legal newspapers per SDCL 7-18-3. 

“In the past, we had Lennox, Tea and Sioux Valley as the legals and then we also published in Beresford and the Argus Leader. I propose that we keep those the same,” she said. 

Motion approved.

Human Resources Director, Traci Humphrey joined the meeting for board action to approve the Commissioner’s salaries for 2024. 

“As you’ll see in the briefing form, I brought two different options, during the budget process, you all approved for the Commissioners to receive a 5.5 per cent COLA adjustment for 2024. In light of our meeting on December 26 where we approved for other elected officials to receive eight per cent, I wanted to bring that as an option to you all to discuss what you want for your salaries,” Humphrey said. 

Commissioner Arends made a motion for an option three which would be to flat line the salary and maintain the current salary. Commissioner Poppens seconded the motion and brought up the conversation of removing mileage from their salaries. 

Commissioner Schmidt shared his thoughts on the matter. 

“It’s always nice to vote no on salaries, it’s politically expedient, and everybody likes that. However, let’s think long term on this thing, you don’t take a vow of poverty to take a position in public service, nor should you take it to enhance your own salary, however, if you want good people to take their time, their talent and ask them to run for an office, there should be some kind of compensation to replace the time that they have devoted. I’m in favor of a five percent raise, I think that’s fair, because little do people realize is the amount of travel that you do for road, planning and zoning, meetings across the county with constituents, those all add up and they come from the bottom line,” Schmidt said. 

The Commissioners voted on the mileage amendment first with a 3-2 vote in favor of eliminating the mileage. Commissioners voted to keep the salaries the same as 2023 without the mileage pay. Motion failed. 

A motion for a five percent raise was made with the mileage pay deleted from the motion. Motion approved.

Humphrey also requested board action to approve a side letter of agreement with the Lincoln County Highway Union, Local 2253, for a three percent cost of living adjustment starting with the pay period beginning December 17, 2023. 

“In your attachments is the side letter, prepared by our legal department and reviewed by them to ensure that while we are still in negotiations with the Highway Union that they get the same COLA that is applied to the rest of the county,” she said. 

Motion approved.

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