Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department / School



In South Dakota, county government is the principal level of government. With a population density of approximately 8.71 persons per square mile (as compared to 375. 6 for New York) 1 and only two cities (Sioux Falls and Rapid City) having populations of more than forty thousand, the county governments provide or coordinate a majority of the public services throughout the state. In addition, the county governments in South Dakota spend more than forty-five million dollars a year as compared to the $137,814,675 spent by the state government for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1971. In view of their important role, county governments confront problems of increasing costs, increasing demand for public goods and services, and declining population. These three problem areas are intertwined and represented by the per capita cost of operating county government. The per capita cost of operating the sixty-four organized county governments in South Dakota ranged from $32.14 to $220.52 in 1970. Because of these problems, changes in the organizational structure, the methods of selecting personnel, the methods of providing services, and the county boundaries themselves are being discussed throughout the state. While the need for change has been recognized, the type of change to implement is undetermined. Before constructive change can be implemented, the true nature of the problems and the sources of the problems need to be identified, and the desires of the citizens ascertained. The objectives of the investigation were: 1. To report the variation in the duties and problems of selected county officials between counties. 2. To review the attitudes of county officials toward costs and change. 3. To determine the primary factors which influence the cost of county government in South Dakota. 4. To analyze the factors influencing the cost of county government in conjunction with the county officials' perception of county government and its problem.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

County government -- South Dakota -- Costs

South Dakota State University Theses



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University