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13 SD railroad authorities will get financial audits

PIERRE — A baker’s dozen of South Dakota’s regional railroad authorities will receive financial audits, the state Railroad Board decided Wednesday.

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The 13 were chosen because they have loans from the state board, or lease segments of state-owned track that generate revenue, or both. The work will be performed, at the state board’s expense, by the state Department of Legislative Audit.

“We are caretakers of public money,” said Todd Yeaton of Kimball, the board’s chairman.

The purpose of the audits is to provide guidance to the regional authorities about proper financial processes. The past three years of records will be inspected.

“This is more of an overview to see if things are being done correctly,” said Bruce Lindholm, the railroad program administrator in the state Department of Transportation.

The board voted 5-1 in favor of the audits. The board left unaddressed the frequency of future audits and whether the state board or the local authorities would pay for audits in future cycles.

Dan Baker of Rapid City voted against the plan Wednesday because it didn’t reach far enough. Baker wanted the audits to extend to the sub-lessees that operate on the lines and have constructed projects.

But other board members said the audits can look for accuracy of financial information without getting deeply into the private business of a company.

The regional authorities that will be audited are Marshall, Napa-Platte, Sioux Valley, MRC, Aberdeen-Brown County, Sully County, Hughes County, Brookings County, East Central, Grant County, Kingsbury County, Day County and Hand County.