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Newscast 4.15.24: $7 million program for telemedicine in South Dakota; Sioux City Council aims to set FY 2025 budget, end plan to for Lamb Arts to renovate new theater

Mark Munger
Siouxland Public Media

The Sioux City Council members in their Monday 4 p.m. meeting are expected to approve the financial budget for the 2024-25 year, and also to end the city’s participation in the quest by Lamb Theatre officials to develop a downtown property.

The meeting at City Hall will include final adoption of the budget after months of discussions. The proposed budget has a lessened property tax levy of $16.54 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, which would result in people owning a $100,000 property to see their taxes drop by $99.

The financial plan will fund a host of city departments with 806 city employees, which is a reduction by one employee from the current 807 amount.

Additionally, a recommendation is that the council should terminate the development agreement with Lamb Arts for the property at 625 Douglas St. The city and Lamb in 2017 began the cooperative plan, with the city providing a $350,000 loan for Lamb officials to renovate the former KCAU-TV building.

Lamb officials have sought to raise millions of dollars to renovate the property into a theater. The council has given several extensions to the loan up to 2023, but a memo says Lamb has made no payments on the debt.

The property has a collapsed roof. The council will consider voting on the development agreement termination, so that the city will take ownership of the property. Decisions on whether to level the building could be made in future weeks, while awaiting the outcome of insurance claims that are underway as a result of building damage.

In South Dakota, two new grant programs will help pay for more telemedicine and other technology innovations to improve patient care at long-term care facilities.

Two bills passed and signed into law this year will use $5 million in federal and $2 million in state money to fund grant programs for more telemedicine and technology in nursing homes across South Dakota, according to South Dakota News Watch.

Telemedicine allows nursing home patients to get virtual nurse and doctor visits in their rooms. It is seen as a way to improve elder health care, reduce employee stress and save money.

Two South Dakota health providers – Avel eCare and Sanford Health – are part of a virtual health care industry that expanded during the COVID-19 pandemic and which has continued to grow since then.

Experts on long-term care in South Dakota say the combined $7 million in grants will be welcomed, but won't solve all the challenges faced by the industry that has been plagued by nursing home closures, increasing costs and a worker shortage.

Additionally, Woodbury County Board of Supervisors Chairman Matthew Ung is inviting county residents to attend a rural meeting that’s held in a different place than the weekly meetings that occur at the courthouse in downtown Soux City.

The rural town hall meeting will be held on Wednesday in Lawton, as county leaders attempt to periodically hold meetings in smaller county towns. Ung said citizen involvement in meetings helps create good government, so he is urging people to go to the event at Lawton City Hall.

Ung said people can discuss any topics, but some planned topics include a possible wind farm developed by MidAmerican Energy, law enforcement topics, road projects and a recap of what’s happening in Lawton.

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