Sturgis, S.D., Voters Eye Campground Annexation

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January 28, 2010 by   - () Leave a Comment

It's been a subject of controversy in South Dakota's Meade County, and now, a public vote will determine if an 1,800-acre area east of Sturgis will be annexed to the city, according to KELO-TV, Sioux Falls, S.D.

City officials argue that during the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally held each August, businesses and campgrounds in that area benefit from city services, but don't have to pay city taxes. But annexing the land could mean a move for a major business.

Heading into this year's rally high off the success of the TruTV series featuring his bar, Full Throttle Saloon owner Michael Ballard has reason to hope for a record year.

"There are people who are calling us that's never been to Sturgis before that are telling us they're coming because they saw us on TV. They want to come they want to be a part of Sturgis," Ballard said.

But if plans to annex his property into Sturgis move forward, he's moving on.

"We're going to have to leave town. It may be over a two-year period, but we will be leaving. We will be leaving Sturgis, and not only us, I know for a fact some of my other neighbors are already in the process of looking at land and moving with us," Ballard said.

While Ballard has built an empire at his current location, he says, in the long run, it'd be less expensive to move his business than to pay city taxes, and he says that would cost the city more than they stand to gain through taxing his bar.

In addition to having the largest payroll in the area during the rally, the Throttle also sees between 10,000 and 15,000 customers per day who end up spending money downtown.

"The fact is, they're coming out here just to do nothing but tax us and take money away from us. And the rally has been going downhill for four years. Businesses are struggling. A lot of them are going out of business and I just don't think that it's right," Ballard said.

He's hoping voters see it the same way.

The 1,800-acre annexation would take in a quarter of Glencoe CampResort.

People in Meade County will vote on the issue Feb. 2.

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