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KATIE ZERR: Budgets tighten, cuts made but we get through it

Throughout the history of the Mobridge our economy has been impacted by events which occurred here, in the state or in our nation.
Whether it was the dirty 30s, the recession during the late 2000s into the 2010s or the closing of Northwestern Bell, the MDU power and the pullout of the Milwaukee Railroad from the area in the 1970s, Mobridge has felt the sting of economic downturns.
In 2011, the highest water levels in the history of the Oahe Reservoir caused an emergency increase in releases from the Oahe Dam. Those releases sucked masses of baitfish through the turbines in Pierre, flushing away the food source of the prized walleye. For the next couple of years, the fish population in the reservoir nearly starved as their preferred sources were gone. The South Dakota Department of Game Fish and Parks set new possession and length limits on the walleye. The long, thin walleye being pulled from the lake were alarming to a population that was used to fat and healthy fish.
It took a while for the fishery to recover, but it has. The baitfish population has come back, the walleye are larger and healthier each year.
For those of us who remember for several years prior to the “great flush” water levels were at historic lows. There were crops on Moose flats, the Grand River Bridge pillars were high and dry and the GF&P built temporary boat docks halfway into the east and west bays at Indian Creek. The Big Muddy Missouri was back and the beauty of the large, clear waters of Lake Oahe were fading fast.
Corps of Engineer officials were warning residents that it could up to 10 years for the water levels to rise to the levels of the early 2000s. But several years later, levels were so high there was a danger of the breech of Oahe Dam. There was little recourse but to open the flood gates and let the water flow.
The fishery took a great hit and anglers coming into the city to spend their money slowed to a trickle.
Then there were the years when the Ag economy hit historic lows with the prices paid for crops and cattle were lower than the cost to produce the commodities. Tax revenues took a hit in those years and there was not enough money to go around in the city and county budgets.
Sitting through the city budget meetings during those times was near painful as department heads and city leaders slashed budgets to fit revenues. Belts were tightened and residents learned to be economical with their money.
It has happened before and it will happen again. The lower tax revenues in 2020 were not a surprise. Forecast had shown there would be less to spend this year as the community and the region experiences several economic hits at one time.
History has shown us that we bounce back. Whether it is Lake Oahe, the Ag economy or local business, our community is resilient. We push through the tough times.
One thing we have learned living in Northcentral South Dakota, there is only so much that we can do. We can’t make more land nor can we create more water. We make do with what we have.
This may not be a great recession but merely an economic hiccup. But whatever we want to label it, it is time to listen to the people who handle the finances and agree to tighten our belts.
In this area we have learned we are only one season away from recovery and next year’s budget may not be as tough to meet.