Property taxes?!?! I receive numerous questions asking about property taxes. Often, it is assumed that the check written to the Yankton County Treasurer is for county property taxes only. This is not the case.

The county collects all property tax dollars levied. A portion of these dollars stay with the county. However, a majority are transferred to other taxing agencies includes: schools, cities, townships, fire districts, road districts, etc.

Essentially, property taxes are paid in arrears. If you look at your most recent property tax bill, the following statements are made, “Based on November 1, 2018 valuations. Taxes for January 1, 2019 through December 31, 2019. Payable April 2020 and October 2020.” The check you write in 2020 is paying taxes calculated for 2019.

Using a 2020 tax bill, the following example outlines the property taxes paid on a $200,000 home in Central Township (unorganized). They are calculated on the equalized value of the property, which is $186,000 (93% of assessed value). For this example, I will use Yankton School District. There are no city property taxes.

• Central Township Owner Occupied/ Equalized Value $186,000 (Listed as Levy/ Tax/Share):

Yankton School — 7.751/ $1,441.69/64%

Yankton County — 3.068/ $570.65/25%

Central Township — 0.632/ $117.55/5.2%

Yankton County Debt — 0.295/ $54.87/2.4%

Lesterville Fire — 0.162/ $30.13/1.3%

Secondary Roads Opt-Out — 0.091/$16.92/0.8%

James River Water — 0.061/$11.35/0.5%

Historical Preservation — 0.050/$9.30/0.4%

TOTAL — Tax: $2,252.46; Share: 100%

Below is a calculation showing the same home located in the City of Yankton. There are no township taxes.

• City of Yankton Owner Occupied/Equalized Value $186,000 (Listed as Levy/ Tax/Share):

Yankton School — 7.751/$1,441.69/50%

Yankton City — 4.247/$789.94/27%

Yankton County — 3.068/$570.65/20%

Yankton County Debt — 0.295/$54.87/1.9%

James River Water — 0.061/$11.34/0.4%

Historical Preservation — 0.050/ $9.30/0.3%

TOTAL — Tax: $2,877.79; Share:100%

Note: There is also a “(City of) Yankton Road Tax” levied per linear frontage foot, including alleys. This is noted as a “Specials Etc” on the tax statement. The value is unique to each property. In this example, I did not estimate that value.


As you see from these two examples, the taxes you pay are dependent on your location. Variations you will see in the itemized section of your tax bill:

• Schools. There are seven school districts in our county: Bon Homme, Gayville, Irene-Wakonda, Menno, Scotland, Viborg and Yankton. Each levies a different tax with some having opt-outs in place. It is worth noting that agricultural, owner-occupied and business each have different tax levies for the general fund and opt-outs, while all three categories pay the same levy for capital outlay and special education. New opt-outs passed in 2020 will appear on 2021 tax bills.

• City. There are seven municipalities in the county: Gayville, Irene, Lesterville, Mission Hill, Utica, Volin and Yankton. The City of Yankton’s opt-out for the water park construction is included this year. Your city may have other opt-outs in place.

• County. All properties pay the same tax levy regardless of classification. “Yankton County Debt” is for the safety center (jail and courthouse). The final payment for this debt occurs in 2025.

• Townships. There are nine organized townships with elected boards. Each levies a different tax rate, and they have the option to implement opt-outs if necessary. There are seven unorganized townships. The County is responsible for the duties of a township board since citizens have chosen not to govern themselves. All unorganized townships pay the same tax levy. By law, the county cannot apply a different levy to different unorganized townships. The “Secondary Roads Opt-Out” also applies to unorganized townships and collects a total of $50,000 across all seven unorganized townships.

• Fire. There are nine fire districts in the county: Gayville, Irene, Lesterville, Menno, Scotland, Tabor, Viborg, Volin and Yankton. If you live in a town, you pay for your fire service through your city taxes, except for the City of Mission Hill which is included in the Yankton Fire District. There are a handful of rural locations not covered by a fire district.

• James River Water Development District. This applies to the entire county since the entire county is a member. This organization assists landowners, cities and counties with drainage and water projects.

• Historical Preservation. In 2014, the voters approved the collection of property taxes to fund historical preservation projects in our county. This is a flat levy (0.050), meaning it is not adjusted for or limited to inflationary growth.

• Road Districts. These are rural residents who legally organized in order to collect taxes to service their access roads (SDCL 31-12A). There are 15 road districts. They elect their board and levy taxes to upkeep their designated roads. Per state law, these districts do not pay the unorganized township tax to the county. There are no road districts in organized townships.

• Ditch Districts. These are located in the northeast and southeast parts of the county: Turkey Valley, Yankton-Clay, Clay Creek, Volin Lateral #1 and Volin Lateral 1st Extension. Each February, the annual board meeting for the southeast ditches is held where landowners decide what work needs to be done and what taxes need to be collected. The Turkey Valley Ditch has a separate board.

• Others. “Specials” could be included such as the frontage tax noted above. Your property may also be part of a watershed district.

It’s not a fun topic. But hopefully, the explanation above helps to outline the trust and agency role the county plays in property tax collections. A document showing the associated levies described above is located on the Yankton County Auditor’s webpage:

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