Lawrence County - Government & Citizenship
Lawrence County, South Dakota, covers 800 square miles of the northern Black Hills and foothills, bordering Wyoming to the west. Deadwood has been county seat since territorial days. The Lawrence County Courthouse complex, along Sherman Street, is the main site for county offices and for South Dakota’s Fourth Judicial Circuit.
In addition to Deadwood, Lawrence County communities are Central City, Lead, St. Onge, Spearfish and Whitewood. County voters elect five county commissioners at large. Terms on the county commission are for four years, and the commission annually selects members who chair and co-chair meetings for that year. Commission meetings are normally scheduled the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month, beginning at 8 am and continuing until the agenda’s work is finished. Meetings, held in the courthouse complex at 90 Sherman Street, are open to the public. Agendas and minutes are available online and minutes are also published in the Black Hills Pioneernewspaper.
The county’s landscape is diverse, with National Forest lands, other forested areas, agricultural land, recreational sites, and new housing developments outside city limits. Equally diverse is the Lawrence County business base: lumber production, tourism, mining, light industry, higher education, health care, farming and ranching, and casino gaming. Some of those business categories are impacted by county decisions about land, as is Black Hills outdoor recreation that is central to many residents’ lifestyles. Citizens locally tend to be engaged in county government, especially when zoning and other land issues are discussed. A current example is the county’s efforts to stop the spread of a mountain pine beetle infestation that could potentially devastate Lawrence County forests.
Citizens are able to serve on advisory boards relating to county departments. Information about applying is found at the same site when vacancies develop. Commissioners appoint advisory board members, and the boards study issues and advise the commission.
Each fall the county commission approves a budget for the coming year. The county’s fiscal year is the same as the calendar year. The budget can be found as a resolution in the commissioner’s minutes or as published in the Black Hills Pioneer newspaper. It can also be reviewed by the public at the county auditor’s office, 90 Sherman Street, Deadwood, from 8 am – 5 pm, Monday – Friday.
For 2012,the county commission has adopted a budget of$8,653,379 utilizing locally generated county tax revenues. When other revenue sources are added, chiefly intergovernmental revenues, 2012 county appropriations will total $12,830,051. In recent years, rising health care premiums for county employees and costs relating to criminal trials have been challenging to predict. Funding for mental health services and the county coroner can also vary from year to year.