Tax Collection and Spending

This question has surfaced before. In fact, during the campaigns for the new Civic Center Arena in 2015 and 2018, it came up no less than 100 times. Answers were provided, but the question lingers:

This Two Cents ‘author’ is apparently frustrated that the City isn’t funding our school needs. So, why don’t we?

Here is the answer, again:

The school district is a taxing entity. The City is a taxing entity. The County is a taxing entity. They are not the same taxing entity. A breakdown of property tax distribution from Rapid City collections could be helpful in understanding this.

Of your total Rapid City property tax bill:

The School District receives – 50.19%  ($44,378,854)

The County receives for county service provision – 29.78%  ($26,331,984)

The City receives for city service provision – 20.04%  ($17,719,709)

These figures do not include special taxing districts such as those served by volunteer fire department etc. This distribution is a product of state law.

The City uses this $17 million, plus another $26 million from one-cent sales tax along with some fees and charges to fund:

  • Police, Fire, Parks and Rec, Street Maintenance including repairs, cleaning and plowing, Public Works Administration, Community Development (planning and zoning), Finance Administration, City Attorney, Human Resources, Mayor’s Office and City Council, City Cemeteries, Library and Information Technology services.

One taxing entity does not fund another taxing entity. Doing so would adjust the distribution percentage and would ultimately undermine the intent of the law from which the distribution was born.

The City Vision Fund, which will fund downtown lighting, is derived from sales tax. To be exact, 42/100 of a penny on each dollar. This results in annual revenue of upwards of $13 million – $6 million of that will be used annually for the bond payments on the new arena, leaving nearly $7 million available for community projects.

The point: The City does not fund the schools, just as the schools do not fund the City. It’s separate, on purpose and for a reason.

The other point: People visit Rapid City’s downtown all year long. Spending happens, life happens and our downtown, one of the things we are becoming famous for, did not happen by accident. Our downtown is the heartbeat of our community.  Our downtown, however is dark at night and has been described as “Gotham.” The downtown is undeniably a growing, thriving area of town and will benefit from new street lighting. We all benefit from a thriving downtown.

The Two Cents ‘author’ might incorrectly believe the lighting project will benefit only Main Street Square, but the lights will be placed from West Blvd. to East Blvd on both Main Street and St. Joseph St. and will light not only the current core of downtown, but also the growing and changing East of Fifth area.

Citizens who made up the Vision Fund Committee as well as the City Council itself determined the lighting project was needed, and I agree.

Downtown 1950s Downtown pumpkinfest2013