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Find help navigating city hall in Rapid City.
Find help navigating city hall in Rapid City.
Black Hills Knowledge Network photo/Chelsea Gortmaker

Rapid City - Government & Citizenship

Local Government

Rapid City was incorporated as a city in 1888 with an Act of Incorporation. From 1888 to 1910 and from 1957 to the present, the community has operated with an aldermanic form of government. Today Rapid City’s business is conducted by a mayor and a 10-person city council. Rapid City is divided into five wards, each of which elects two representatives to the city council to three-year terms. The mayor is elected at-large. Rapid City covers 55 square miles and is also known as the “Gateway to the Black Hills” and the “City of the Presidents”. The city has the second largest in South Dakota, with 74,048 people in 2016.

Regular council meetings are held on the first and third Monday of each month at 6:30 p.m. at the City-School Administration Center, 300 Sixth St. Agendas and minutes can be found online and are published in the Rapid City Journal.


Mayor Steve Allender recently proposed an increased city budget for the year 2017. The budget, if accepted, would equal $62,344,819. Officials estimate that Rapid City will generate this amount in revenue. Learn more about the proposal from the mayor’s presentation here.

Find complete budgets for past years here.

Philanthropy & Nonprofits

According to the National Center for Charitable Statistics, Pennington County has 17 private foundations with over 199 million dollars in combined assets reported for 2013. The ten largest foundations from largest to smallest are as follows.

  1. John T. Vucurevich Foundation
  2. Dakota Charitable Foundation
  3. Gwendolyn L. Stearns Foundation
  4. Black Hills Corporation Foundation
  5. Chiesman Foundation for Democracy
  6. Durnill Charitable Trust
  7. Rapid City Community Development Corporation
  8. Walter J. and Joanne Rouleau Foundation
  9. Brande Foundation
  10. Soaring Eagle Foundation


Find ward and precinct maps, polling places, forms, and Rapid City election results on the Rapid City Government Elections page. Find Pennington County Election Information here and see results from recent elections at the South Dakota Secretary of State’s website.

Public Safety

Rapid City’s law enforcement is provided by the Rapid City Police Department, which employs 153 full-time employees in its mission to “provide community-enhancing services, foster a positive relationship with the community, and develop our agency and officers with an emphasis on professionalism, integrity, and service.”

The Rapid City Fire Department focuses on fire education and prevention efforts but is prepared to suppress fire in Rapid City and the surrounding area. The department also manages other emergency response departments such as EMS, water rescue, and motor vehicle extrication.

Veterans & Military Affairs

The Pennington County Veterans Service Office assists area veterans and their dependents and survivors in applying for veterans' benefits including benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs and the State of South Dakota.

More Information

Septic Tanks Pennington County began inspecting septic tank systems following the passage of a new county septic ordinance in August 2010. As of October 2011, inspectors had visited nearly 750 homes. Roughly a third of these violations were “minor,” but 105 homes had major violations. These major violations fell into three general categories: pit privies where human waste is dumped directly into the ground, leaking septic systems that allow sewage to seep into the earth, and systems that rely on unapproved materials to contain waste.

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525 University Loop, Suite 202
Rapid City, SD 57701
(605) 716-0058   [email protected]