Past SDML President Jeanne Duchscher, left, passes the gavel to newly elected President Meri Jo Anderson after Anderson's election in Aberdeen.

Anderson named president of S.D. Municipal League

Longtime New Underwood City Finance Officer Meri Jo Anderson was elected president of the South Dakota Municipal League on Friday, Oct. 9, during the organization’s 82nd annual conference in Watertown. 

The South Dakota Municipal League (SDML) is a nonpartisan and nonprofit association of 310 incorporated municipalities in South Dakota. In practice, the SDML seeks to aid municipal governments in their daily services to their communities. The SDML provides years of history and experience to municipal governments to help communities determine their objectives and plans for obtaining those objectives, including city maintenance and development. The SDML also provides legal information that pertains to municipalities so municipal governments are better able to understand their role and responsibilities.

Members of the SDML leadership meet annually at a major conference, and at 10 district meetings throughout the year. As the sitting president, Anderson will be responsible for attending and speaking at each of the district meetings. She will chair each of the executive board meetings, and will attend the National League of Cities in Nashville, Tenn., and Washinton, D.C., as a delegate.

Anderson first became the New Underwood city finance officer in October of 1980. In order to become a city finance officer, a person must be appointed each year by the city mayor, and the city council must concur with the appointment. Anderson has received the appointment since 1980, though she took a four year hiatus at the end of the 1990s to help bolster the struggling New Underwood grocery store. When the store closed in 2000, Anderson returned to her position as city finance officer.

As city finance officer, Anderson is responsible to maintain a current financial account of all water, sewer and garbage customers, including noting and collecting from those who are delinquent in their accounts.  Anderson must also provide the mayor and director of public works with a current and accurate line of communication with the city and the community members. Anderson’s other responsibilities include overseeing the management of the Sami Jo Memorial Swimming Pool, preparing the annual report, budget and inventory, attending all city council meetings and ensuring that all needed documents are prepared for those meetings, conducting municipal elections, handling the requisition of all city funds and recording and verifying all city council activity. 

Because she is also the human resources director, Anderson must address employee concerns and questions and ascertain compliance with state and federal requirements.

When she first received the appointment to her position in the early 1980s, Anderson attended intensive summer classes at South Dakota State University for three years in order to become a certified municipal clerk. “It was a very good program with a lot of information crammed in, as classes were from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.,” Anderson said. 

Her recent election to the role of president is not her first time in an executive position. Anderson served as the president of the South Dakota Governmental Finance Officers Association from 1993-1994. She served in the SDML previously as the chairman of District 9, and was appointed as the district trustee. 

In order to achieve her position as president, Anderson had to ascend through the ranks of district chairman, trustee, second vice president and first vice president before being eligible to be nominated for the role of president. When a person has achieved these ranks, the final step is to be nominated by the three-person nominating committee. During the annual conference, nominations from the floor are also accepted, though Anderson said she has only seen this happen twice.

Anderson shares the excitement of her recent election with her high school sweetheart and husband of 44 years, Daryl, who is her most avid supporter, according to Anderson. The two also have a daughter and three granddaughters who keep them busy, as well as a large extended family including Anderson’s father, seven brothers, four sisters and numerous nieces and nephews, all of whom remain close and inspire her to do better, Anderson said.

The Pioneer Review

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Philip, SD 57567
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