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City’s Process Regarding Initiative Concerning City Administration Building Bonds

Today, petition sheets on a possible proposed initiative regarding the bond sale for the proposed City Administration building were turned in to the City Clerk’s Office for validation. The validation process requires the following:

• Approximately 5,750 valid signatures (5 percent of registered voters) are required to send an issue to a vote.
• The City Clerk will conduct a random sampling process to validate the petition. Five percent of the signatures must be reviewed according to South Dakota Administrative Rule. This entire process can take up to two weeks or longer, depending on various factors. Even if a petition is validated, any interested person could then challenge the petition, alleging specific deficiencies in the petition. If so, the City Clerk would need to review each of the specific deficiencies and make a determination regarding the validity of each of the signatures in question.
• Assuming the petition contains sufficient valid signatures, the City Clerk would then deem the petition “filed” with his office. The City Clerk would then present the petition to the City Council for further action. The City Council can either place the item on the April 2018 ballot or order a special election by ordinance.
• An election ordinance requires two separate readings at least five days apart.
• State law requires any special election to be at least 30 days from the effective date of the order calling for a special election.
• Election results must also be canvassed before any proposed measure would become effective, if approved by the voters.

The City is authorized to sell bonds for the proposed City Administration building effective October 1, 2016. The existence of this possible initiative effort does not prevent the already authorized bond sale from taking place. SDCL 9-20-3 prohibits the use of the initiative process to nullify the purpose for which bonds have been sold.

The project budget for the City Administration Building has been established at $21.9 million, which is the amount the City will spend to design, construct, furnish, and equip the new building. This total also includes the improvements to Van Eps Park and Dakota Avenue.