Watertown city official discuss future of baseball in the city

WATERTOWN, S.D.(KXLG)- Watertown’s city officials discussed the future of baseball in the city and the importance of advisory boards.

The “From the Halls of City Hall” program featured three guests: Mayor Ried Holien, City Manager Amanda Mack, and Deputy Mayor Councilman Randy Tupper. The discussion centered around the potential design of a new baseball field and the role of advisory boards within the city.

City Manager Amanda Mack explained that the city has multiple volunteer advisory boards, including the Park and Rec board. These boards serve in an advisory capacity to the Council, bringing items forward for discussion and serving as the “eyes and ears” of the community.

City Manager Mack.

However, the board’s decisions are mainly within the purview of what the Park and Rec director has the authority to make decisions on. More significant issues go to the Council.

Mayor Ried Holien emphasized the importance of these boards and committees, stating that elected officials couldn’t do their jobs without them. He also encouraged interested citizens to apply to be on a board or committee through the city website.

The city is considering paying over $28,000 for design services to a firm in Des Moines, IA, for a potential new field.

However, Mayor Holien asked to pause the conversation, expressing concern about hiring outside agencies prematurely.

He noted that baseball has been associated with the school for many years and owns the stadium. The school has announced that they will not take care of the stadium after next year, leaving baseball without a home.

The city is interested in finding a solution. Still, Mayor Holien stressed the need for a conversation involving the school, the Baseball Association, and the city to determine its responsibility. He emphasized that no one entity is to blame, but everyone can be part of the solution.

The program also touched on the topic of taxes. City Manager Amanda Mack clarified that the city does not set property taxes; that is the county’s responsibility. The city’s levy has gone down every year for the last two or three years because they’ve paid off the bonds on the Event Center. Any road projects are paid for out of sales tax revenues, not property taxes.

Although the discussion didn’t necessarily revolve around a potential new jail, it was used as an example of something that would affect property taxes to cover the bond; the County would be in control of putting that all together and would include a vote of the people to approve.