The first item on the agenda for discussion other than regular business was broached by Council Member Donnie Farlee, who expressed concerns about the difficulty in contacting law enforcement when the officers are either answering another call or off duty.
“Who do you call for back-up? Is Bob Menzel on call?” Farlee asked.
Questions were also raised about whether a phone call to the police station was a formal request, or if the request needed to be in writing.
Unlike larger cities, Dupree and other small towns do not have the 911 service centers that larger cities offer citizens, and funds to pay officers are minimal, allowing for only two officers, the Sherriff and his deputy, to service a large area.
Jurisdiction issues are complicated by the boundaries established between tribal, city and county responsibilities and limitations.
Council members shared several stories of phone calls made to the Zeibach County Sherriff’s office that went unanswered by various Dupree citizens on different occasions and agreed to invite the Sheriff to the attend each city meeting to address on an ongoing basis some of their questions and concerns and try to come up with doable solutions to address them.
One visitor, the owner of Maria’s Bar and Grill Mary Reede, asked City Council members if they realized that the 5 percent liquor tax increase, which makes the tax now 10 percent , increases the total tax she has to pay on liquor to 25 ½ percent.
City Council members explained that the original tax was 5 percent for a long time, and the city needs to generate additional revenue. Most cities across South Dakota, according to Mayor Jim Veit, have a 10 percent tax.
Because the city needs the revenue to be able to better keep up with infrastructure maintenance, they made the tax increase so that it matched what others cities are also charging.
Reede expressed concern that she could lose business to Faith or others areas, because she must pay a 10 percent tax to the tribe and a 6 percent tax to the state, 1 percent of which is sent to the City of Dupree.
In locations off the reservation, there is no 10 percent tribal tax on liquor sales, putting Reede in a position that may force her to raise her prices to offset the 5 percent city tax increase, which she feels could impact her sales.
City Council members said that while they understand her concern, they all agreed to keep the new rate at 10 percent.
Mayor Veit reported that although the holidays threw a “monkey wrench” into the garbage collection schedule and created some confusion, the schedule should be back on track this week.
Veit also said he was pleased with the way the city workers were keeping the streets cleared, particularly Main Street.
Finally, in the last action of the evening’s meeting, the council voted and passed a resolution to give city employees a 3 percent pay raise to keep in line with cost of living increases.