Supervisors discuss salary increases, other matters in regular Monday session

by Bob Beach

During its regular meeting Monday, February 9, the Allamakee County Board of Supervisors briefly discussed the recommendations of the Allamakee County Compensation Board with regard to salary increases for elected officials. Supervisor Dennis Koenig said that he saw no reason that the salary for Supervisors should be treated any differently than the salaries of other elected officials in the county. Board Chairman Larry Schellhammer said that Supervisors are paid more for the responsibility of the position than the number of hours they work, which varies from week to week. Supervisor Dan Byrnes said as a new member of the Board, he would not be comfortable taking a raise. He added that despite the responsibility of the position, he believes the current compensation is adequate.
The Compensation Board's recommendation, presented to the Board January 19, includes a $1,500 increase in the annual salary of County Supervisors. Byrnes made a motion to not increase Supervisors' salaries at all in the coming fiscal year, but that motion died for lack of a second.
The Board also considered a recommendation to increase the salary of Max Grotegut, whose salary was previously paid under an Iowa Department of Public Health Grant for the Strategic Prevention Framework State Incentive Grant (SPF-SIG). While there is no further funding for the SPF-SIG grant, the County was recently awarded funding under the Partnerships for Success program, which is focused on reducing underage drinking. Under the new grant, Grotegut is eligible for a three-percent salary increase, which the Board approved.
The Board also met with Environmental Health Sanitarian Laurie Moody, who presented the Board with the Weed Commissioner's report for 2014. The Board agreed to sign the report for submission to the State Weed Commissioner and reappointed Moody as the Allamakee County Weed Commissioner for 2015.
During public comment time, Maynard Johnson of Lansing expressed concerns about the County moving forward with the construction of a new jail, saying that ground should not be broken on the project for at least two years to allow for more serious consideration, adding that he is concerned that the new jail may be used to address shortfalls in mental health services.
Chairman Schellhammer said that while there was brief consideration of including space for mental health crisis beds at the proposed public safety center, such space would not be included in the final plans for the facility. Schellhammer added that the State of Iowa is apparently attempting to "get out of dealing with mental health commitments" and move that responsibility to recently established regions, but the regions are not yet ready to take on the whole of that responsibility.
With regard to the jail, Supervisor Byrnes said that he is not ready to approve the use of the Makee Manor site for the construction of a new jail and would oppose pushing forward with presenting a bond issue to voters in May.
In other business, the Board approved a list of members of the 2015 Compensation Commission, which includes the same members as in 2014 with the exception of several who indicated they did not wish to be reappointed. The Board also approved a $5,750 levy for Drainage District Number 1 and met in closed session to discuss a personnel issue in the Allamakee County Attorney's Office and ongoing negotiations with the unions representing Secondary Roads and Sheriff's Department employees.

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