Specht v. City of Sioux Falls

Supreme Court of South Dakota, 526 N.W2d 727 (1995)


In 1992 the SD legislature authorized local units of municipalities to create “regional emergency medical services” authorities.  Ds did exactly that.  Shortly thereafter, P, a fire fighters association, challenged the constitutionality of the authorizing law and the city’s resolution.  P argued that the resolution and authorizing statute “because it creates a special commission whose powers, defined by (state law), involve an improper delegation of municipal functions.”


Whether the creation of the authority was an unconstitutional delegation of authority.


Yes.  Once created, the authority has little or no oversight from any legal body, whatsoever.  Importantly, the provision of emergency services is traditionally and most appropriately a municipal function.

The authority is a special commission that is separate and distinct from municipal government.  Even though municipalities have the ability to create the commission, there is no subsequent oversight capability.  There is no provision for removing the commission after its creation, thus it is not accountable to the citizens of the locality.  For instance, the city could not control the taxing powers of the authority after its creation.  Moreover, the city cannot withdraw from the authority if it is significantly in debt.

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