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Belle Fourche Referendum Would Require 175 Signatures, Not 60

Belle Fourche referendum update! The "fewer than 60" signatures that Belle Fourche Chamber exec Teresa Schwanzenbach told the press the Chamber would need to call a referendum on the city council's decision to kick the Chamber out of the city's visitor center sounded quite low to me. So I checked:

  • The Butte County Auditor's Office says that, as of this morning, Belle Fourche has 3,489 registered active voters.
  • The South Dakota Secretary of State's office confirms what the Black Hills Pioneer and I said: SDCL 9-20-8 says a municipal referendum requires 5% of registered voters as of the date petitions are filed.
  • Referring a Belle Fourche City Council decision requires at least 175 signatures.

If petitions circulate in Belle Fource, they won't start until next week, and petitioners would have 20 days to get done. So by that due date next month, the exact voter registration and signature requirement could change a few in either direction. But the signature requirement won't be under 60... not unless 2300 Belle Fourchers are so disillusioned by their city council and by Kristi Noem that they give up on democracy and cancel their voter registration. (Don't do it, friends! There's always hope in democracy!)


  1. interested party 2013.10.18

    Really interesting story on All Things Considered right now about the teabaggers focusing on down-ticket races after their recent drubbing: link not up yet.

  2. Rita Pazour 2013.10.21

    Good Morning,
    We are aware that the number given to us by the Butte County Auditors Office originally was incorrect. You should also be aware that the ruling will not official from the City Council until the minutes are approved at tonight's city council meeting, and then still not official until the minutes are posted to the public in the October 30th, Butte County Post.. so our eviction letter from Mayor Hendrickson was a little premature... on his part never the less served in the mail October 10th 2013...

  3. caheidelberger Post author | 2013.10.21

    Interesting! Can the mayor act to evict the Chamber from the building before the action has been published in the minutes? Perhaps therein lies a test of whether the council's action against the Chamber is a referrable legislative action or a non-referrable administrative action. The city can hire workers and put them on the job before their hiring appears in the published minutes, can't they? That's the sort of administrative action that can't be referred. Is that analogy useful here?

  4. Rita Pazour 2013.10.21

    Yes, this is all very interesting, I think your analogy is off base a little we are not employees of the City, we appeared before the City Council at budget hearing for the 2014 Budget. We appeared with a proposal to operate the Visitor Center with a budget of $78,000.00. Adding more staff and state of the art features to the Center for 2014 was part of that plan. We appear as a special interest group such as the Ambulance, CoNBA, Cowboy Band to name a few ....

  5. caheidelberger Post author | 2013.10.22

    You're right, Rita, it's clearly not a staffing decision. But there are non-staffing decisions the city can make that cannot be referred. Is the ability of the city to put a decision into effect prior to minutes approval and official publication a definer of administrative vs. legislative?

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