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Dakota CUs' Advocacy on Tax Status Declared a Victory in Brookings
BROOKINGS, S.D. (12/16/13)--South Dakota credit union advocates succeeded again in stopping bankers' attempts at getting city and county municipalities to adopt resolutions challenging credit unions' tax status, this time before the Brookings, S.D., City Council.

Local press declared a clear victory for credit unions after a two-hour volley of discussion between the South Dakota bankers and advocates from the Credit Union Association of the Dakotas at the council's Dec. 10 meeting, said CUAD (Brookings Register Dec. 12).

The council rejected the banks' resolution that would have urged Congress to tax credit unions and Farm Credit Services. Instead, it sided with the credit union argument, saying there were potential conflicts of interest and it wanted to avoid taking sides in choosing one business over the other, said CUAD (The Memo Dec. 13).
 
Council member John Kubal questioned whether supporting the bankers' resolution meant "the local government wasn't being turned into a lobbyist for the bankers' organization," and added, "I don't know how, if we send this forward, we can't be seen to be on the side of the banks."

Council member Tom Bezdichek said it would be "a conflict of interest for the city because the local banks hold literally tens of millions of dollars of city indebtedness."  He noted "there are places for both banks and credit unions, and I can't quite believe that the city council should be making a resolution when millions and millions of our debt is held by a bank."  The vote was a tie, 3 to 3.

Although the bankers' resolution is dead, the council substituted and passed, 4 to 2, another resolution calling for a congressional review of all federal taxation as it relates to local governments. It does not address the debate between credit unions and banks, CUAD said, noting that it is a victory for credit unions.

CUAD Vice President of Advocacy Jeff Olson, as well as Dan Cumbee, president/CEO of  Dakotaland FCU, Huron, S.D., and  Evelyn Friezen, a credit union member, spoke on behalf of credit unions at the meeting.

So far credit unions in the state have won the tax status debates before municipalities in Brookings County, Yankton City, Yankton School Board, Vermillion City, Clay County and Campbell County. Only the Brookings Economic Development Corp., where credit unions did not have the opportunity for rebuttal, has passed a resolution.

CUAD is remaining active on the issue. It will argue credit unions' position before the Brookings School Board today, the Brookings Chamber of Commerce's legislative affairs committee on Jan. 2, and the Vermillion legislative affairs committee on Jan. 14, Olson told News Now.

To access a video of the Brookings Council meeting, use the link, and scroll to item No. 18 on the agenda, where the taxation debate begins.
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