Hendrickson ends term as Municipal League president
Helped to streamline assessment legislation
October 23. 2012 4:20PM
Cities across the state of South Dakota are benefiting, thanks to the Baltic city finance officer.
Elaine Hendrickson has guided Baltic as its finance officer for 17 years and has spent the last nine years on the board of the South Dakota Municipal League as well. Earlier this month, she finished a term as the group’s president, a job she said she enjoyed.
“As far as the experience as president, I wouldn’t have given that experience up,” she said.
According to those with whom she worked, she has been an energetic and effective leader.
“Elaine led the league through the process of rewriting the special assessment laws, forming a task force to work on the issue and ultimately gaining passage of a 50-page piece of legislation in the 2012 session,” Yvonne Taylor, SDML executive director, said.
Special assessments are fees cities charge landowners who benefit from infrastructure such as curb and gutter, sewer and the like.
“When cities did special assessments before, they had to go through several codified laws,” Hendrickson said. “This new legislation grouped all those things together, and now it’s a much more straightforward process.”
Hendrickson, who lives on her childhood family land near Colton, is retired from 22 years in the Air Force. While serving, she did weather forecasting, and she managed a weather station her last four years.
Weather forecasting and city budgeting are similar in many ways, she said. “You look at what’s happened in the past and what’s likely to happen in the future,” she said.
She also had taken business classes and knew about government from her years in the armed forces.
“All my life, without knowing it, I guess I was preparing for this job,” she said.
Although she, her husband and two children lived in many places over the years, she wanted to return to her roots after retiring from the Air Force.
“South Dakota is a great place to raise a family,” she said. Her husband is now retired, and the couple’s daughter is 34. Their son died earlier this year in a motorcycle accident at age 28.
Hendrickson met Brandon’s finance officer, Dennis Olson, at a Municipal League conference.
“He’s been my mentor for 17 years,” she said.
The admiration is mutual. “She runs a real good show there in Baltic,” Olson said. “I think she’s one of the better finance officers in the state.”
Olson nominated Hendrickson for her first seat on the SDML board, and she worked her way up through the ranks. Taylor said Hendrickson started as the chair of District Three, became a trustee, second vice president, first vice president and then president. This year, she is serving as past president, her last year on the board.
Olson said Hendrickson is “stable, knowledgeable. She is a very down-to-earth, good thinker-type of person.”
Taylor said Hendrickson has provided consistent guidance for the League and is “a practical, common sense leader. She also has a great sense of humor.” Taylor said the league staff and other board members have enjoyed working with Hendrickson.
This year’s president is Paul Young, who is a city council member in Spearfish.
Hendrickson is grateful to Baltic city leaders for allowing her to participate in the League. “I was able to be president of the South Dakota Municipal League because my city council and my mayor understand how important it is for us to be involved in legislative actions and economic development actions,” she said. “Without their support, I couldn’t have done it.”
Hendrickson said the Baltic mayor and council are “very progressive.” They already are considering how best to replace Hendrickson.
“I keep telling them that 2016 (when she is 66) will be a good time for me to retire,” Hendrickson said. She encourages the council to think ahead.
“The finance officer job is pivotal for a community,” she said. “It’s important to find the right person and get them trained correctly.”
And even after Hendrickson retires from the Municipal League board, she plans to continue attending League functions. “Then I can sit back and have breakfast with the other past presidents,” she said.