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Mitchell City Council OKs new events position, as officials say facilities being underutilized

“I think we have a bunch of facilities around Mitchell that we don’t use. This person would come in and bring events to these facilities that have been sitting empty,” Councilman Kevin McCardle said.

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Fans watch the action at the 2016 Corn Palace Challenge at the Corn Palace. A rodeo event hasn't been held at the Corn Palace in the past few years, but city officials are hoping a new position will help attract similar large events to city facilities in the future.
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MITCHELL — The city of Mitchell has created a new job aimed at bringing more events to Mitchell and promoting the city’s sports and events facilities.

According to the pay structure of the new full-time job that’s titled administrative coordinator, it will come with a starting wage of $53,585 and a $32,000 benefits package. City Administrator Stephanie Ellwein outlined several key roles of the new position, which includes social media marketing for the city and its facilities, coordinating the calendar of events and serving as the point of contact between the city and working alongside the Sports and Events Authority (SEA) board.

“It’s really more of doing special projects assigned to them and bringing more events and usage into the city’s facilities,” Ellwein said, noting the position would also coordinate the special event and permit applications submitted to the city.

The new job has the support of Council President Kevin McCardle, who said many of the city’s sports and events facilities are underutilized. With the role of the newly created job aiming to bring more events to Mitchell, McCardle said it will help address a problem with underutilized facilities while providing a boost in sales tax revenue.

“I think we have a bunch of facilities around Mitchell that we don’t use. This person would come in and bring events to these facilities that have been sitting empty,” McCardle said. “We need someone to come in and get those facilities utilized and bring people to Mitchell to spend money here.”

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While the Mitchell City Council approved the creation of the new position that will cost the city $92,899 during Monday’s meeting, not all council members were on board.

Steve Rice was among the two council members who voted against approving the new job. Rice said the role of the new job is essentially what the Mitchell Area Chamber of Commerce personnel already does.

Rice also questioned whether the roughly money needed to fund the new position will pay for itself. Joining Rice in voting against the new job was council member John Doescher, who said he did not support adding more city jobs.

“We’ve sat here and talked about how well our third-penny sales tax was and hotel occupancy when we didn’t have this position in place. We have a Chamber, Convention and Visitors Bureau and development corporation that can do this. There has been nothing but good said about how that was operating in the 10 years I’ve been on the council,” Rice said. “Now, we’re going to create a new job that will last forever."

In response to Rice’s opposition, Mayor Bob Everson indicated the particular job under the Mitchell Chamber of Commerce that has similarities to the newly created city position has experienced a high turnover rate in recent years.

“In the four years that I’ve been in office, we will be on the fifth person that’s been trying to handle this job,” Everson said. “We need some continuity to keep things going forward.”

Although the new position will mimic what the Chamber of Commerce staff has been doing, Tiffany Batsdorf, director of the Chamber of Commerce and Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the organization’s goal to bring events to Mitchell will remain the same.

“We will continue working to get more events to public and private facilities in the community and work with the Sports and Events Authority board,” Batsdorf said.

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Working with hotel BID tax, sports and events board

As the city is seeking to work out a new hotel Business Improvement District (BID) tax with local hotel owners , Everson said the employee who takes on the job would play an instrumental role in the process.

Read more from Sam Fosness ...
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As part of phase II, the back nine of the 18-hole golf course will undergo major renovations and become a par-71 layout, dropping down from the existing par-72 setup.

The existing $1.50 hotel BID tax generates about $240,000 each year and primarily goes toward improving the city’s sports and event facilities. Since it was implemented in 2013, the city’s BID tax has helped pay down the $8 million Indoor Aquatic Center and second sheet of ice at the Mitchell Activities Center ice rink.

With a 2023 sunset date approaching for the hotel tax, city leaders have been focused on working with hotel owners to implement a new $2 BID tax and a board that would oversee the money. If a new hotel BID tax is implemented, Ellwein said a job function of the new employee would be serving as a point of contact between the BID board and city.

The BID tax also funds Mitchell’s Sports and Events Authority board, which is made up of residents who work to bring large-scale sporting events to the city such as the Hoop City Classic and swim meets. As part of the new job, the employee would work alongside the Sports and Events Authority board, which Everson said recently moved their meetings over to City Hall.

“We need to get some more continuity and stability with the Sports and Events board. When there isn’t anyone in position to work with them, we could be losing out on some big events that ultimately help our local economy,” Everson said.

The hotel BID tax provides roughly $80,000 to the sports and events board. Everson said the board was initially looking to pay someone to attract more large-scale events. Instead, the board has worked alongside employees of the Chamber of Commerce over the past decade.

As one of the city officials who played a key role in getting the BID tax in place, Councilman Jeff Smith said he’s confident the new position will pay for itself.

“I think this person should pay for themselves if we hire the right person,” Smith said.

Sam Fosness joined the Mitchell Republic in May 2018. He was raised in Mitchell, S.D., and graduated from Mitchell High School. He continued his education at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, where he graduated in 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in English. During his time in college, Fosness worked as a news and sports reporter for The Volante newspaper.
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