Legal and Finance Committee discusses COVID bonus and medical marijuana ordinances

RAPID CITY, S.D. — Rapid City’s Legal and Finance Committee met for the first time on Wednesday since the city moved away from working sessions.

The big item on the agenda was whether city employees would receive a COVID bonus.

It’s been proposed to award hazard pay to police officers and firefighters who have been on the frontline during the pandemic. The question was then raised if other city employees should also receive hazard pay.

The council decided last month that if police and firefighters that were working for the city in 2020 and still were still employed would each receive $1,000.

However, the discussion about other city employees has moved from the council to working session and back again. Some committee members believe the workers should get something for staying with the city during the pandemic.

“I’m open to it in the sense of the bonus for moral, as a thank you and as an investment in the future. But I don’t think it’s in the same category in my mind as a hazard pay,” said Jason Salamun of Ward 3.

The committee voted three-to-one to approve a $500 bonus to some 450 city employees still on staff since the start of the pandemic.

The motion now moves to the full council without recommendation.

Also, on the agenda was medical cannabis – including limiting the number of dispensaries to one for every 5,000 residents. That amounts to 15 total.

A zoning ordinance for marijuana businesses had a first reading. A major concern is the proximity to schools and other public places.

“All of these have been geared to be either placed in commercial and or industrial depending on the specific activity,” said Vicki Fisher, interim community development director. “And ensuring that there’s always separation from schools, churches, playgrounds, childcare centers, residential zoning districts and public parks.”

The current zoning proposal would allow dispensaries to open in locations more than 1,00 feet from private or public schools and 500 feet from churches, public parks and playgrounds, childcare centers and property zoned residential.

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