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Commission prepares for possible sale of Brookings County Resource Center

Posted: Friday, Sep 28th, 2012

• $230,000 extra set aside in budget in case 4-H needs new home

BROOKINGS – Thinking the City of Brookings may soon come knocking to buy its Resource Center, where 4-H offices are housed, the Brookings County Commission approved a final 2013 budget Tuesday that includes nearly a quarter-million dollars it could use to find 4-H a new home.

The Resource Center is attached to the city’s Swiftel Center, and a Sioux Falls developer has presented plans to build a conference center and hotel there. The county knows it would need to sell its property there for this to happen. But, because the commission met Tuesday morning and the Brookings City Council discussed the issue Tuesday night, commissioners were tentative.

The commission previously talked about locating 4-H inside the South Dakota Outdoor Adventure Center, which will be built on the northeast edge of Brookings’ Dakota Nature Park. The center would need extra square footage to accommodate 4-H. But commissioners had decided against that, saying 4-H will stay in the resource center. When the Outdoor Adventure Center requested a $250,000 donation from the county, the commission pledged only $20,000.

So, when commissioners set aside an extra $230,000 Tuesday with all this in mind, they discussed whether the Adventure Center designers can now reasonably expect to receive that money.

“As they move forward with their project, they will make their construction plans with the assumption that this money is available and they will design it based on these monies (being) available to create the larger footprint to accommodate other activities,” said Commissioner Don Larson.

“It wouldn’t be fair to those people to take this action and then, they construct on the assumption that this is sitting there, if and when needed, and then they come with the need and then a board denies it.”

Commission Chair Deanna Santema and Commissioner Stephne Miller said the adventure center should for now assume it will not get that money.

“I don’t think we’re in a position to give a reasonable assurance at this time, because we’re hanging in the air,” Miller said. “They can be reasonably assured, we voted to give them $20,000. But we have no idea at this point what’s going to happen with the Resource Center or what we’re going to do about 4-H.”

“We’ll put that money in just in case, but we can’t tell either entity – until the board goes through and decides completely – we cannot tell either entity that yes, we’re going to get rid of the Resource Center, or yes, we’re joining that (adventure center),” Santema said.

Adding this $230,000 to its Culture and Recreation budget was the largest change commissioners made to the provisional 2013 budget they published last month.

The levy rate is $4.73 per $1,000 property valuation, which will bring in just over $10.1 million for the county. Total appropriations in the 2013 budget are just over $19.7 million.

The commission held a public hearing before approving the final budget Tuesday, but no one was present to speak. It approved the budget by a unanimous 4-0 vote. Commissioner Dennis Falken was absent from the meeting.

Contact Charis Prunty at cprunty@brookingsregister.com.

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