County Compensation Board recommends three-percent wage increase for elected officials, Supervisors approve Iowa River Drive plan and canoe access land acquisition

by Joe Moses

The Allamakee County Board of Supervisors met in regular session Monday, January 11 to address a full agenda of items including Fiscal-Year 2022 funding requests for organizations, the consideration of changes to the Allamakee County employee handbook and a recommendation from the Allamakee County Compensation Board.

During Public Comment, Waukon City Manager Gary Boden discussed attending a recent meeting relating to funding options for a new ambulance. Boden said that there is a need for planning for this purchase and the purchase of a new fire truck as part of a capital equipment project with budgeting for 10 and 15 years into the future being necessary. Chairperson Larry Schellhammer and Supervisor Dan Byrnes advised of upcoming meetings with township trustees that will include discussion of the ambulance purchase among other matters.

Director Deana Hageman with Northeast Iowa Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) thanked the Supervisors for their past support of the organization and discussed the organization’s Fiscal-Year 2022 (FY22) funding request. Hageman shared that additional funding would be beneficial to the communities served and allow for additional hours for the organization’s volunteer coordinator position. Hageman provided an overview of Northeast Iowa RSVP’s efforts benefiting Howard, Winneshiek and Allamakee Counties in the coordination of 452 volunteers last year which provided the equivalent of $680,000 in services to communities.

Hageman further explained that the program links volunteers age 55 and above with organizations that provide training and support for a variety of volunteer opportunities. Hageman discussed tax return assistance offered through this volunteer program and indicated that 10 percent of the RSVP volunteer hours in the state are provided through Northeast Iowa RSVP. The Supervisors agreed to review the funding request with other current budget requests.

Executive Director Andy Kelleher with Lansing Main Street Matters provided an update for the organization and made a FY22 funding request. Kelleher discussed the organization’s goals to create an historic and financially thriving Main Street through economic development and community involvement in Lansing. Kelleher said that 2020 began with business training sessions, the annual chili cook-off and preparations for a grant contest locally with the winner advancing to a state competition, all prior to the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Kelleher also discussed events, promotions and activities that have taken place following the onset of the pandemic including a consumer survey in July, sidewalk sales in August, Restaurant Week in September and the annual holiday punch card promotion, among other activities. Kelleher advised that free online business coaching has been made available through Main Street Iowa and that the Adopt-a-Pot program was a successful effort involving the partnership of local businesses and community organizations in decorating flower pots along Main Street with holiday decorations.

Kelleher explained that Main Street Matters has assisted as a hub in disseminating COVID-19 related information to businesses and the public. He thanked the Supervisors for their FY21 contribution of $3,000 and requested their consideration of an increase for FY22 with a contribution of $4,000. The Supervisors agreed to review this funding request.

Dan Denk, President of the Allamakee County Compensation Board, discussed that board’s FY22 recommendation. Denk advised that the Compensation Board met December 9 and, following a good discussion, agreed upon a recommendation of a three percent across the board increase for County elected officials with a $1,000 stipend for the Chairperson of the Board of Supervisors. Schellhammer thanked the Compensation Board for its work and guidance on this matter.

The Quarterly Report from Allamakee County Planning and Zoning was accepted and placed on file. A Manure Management Plan update from Saffron was reviewed by Schellhammer, Byrnes and Supervisor Mark Reiser and was accepted and placed on file.

Allamakee County Auditor Denise Beyer provided an overview of Secondary Roads Department transfers including $10,954.55 from the General Basic fund to Secondary Roads and $121,754.96 from the Rural Basic fund to Secondary Roads. The Supervisors approved the Secondary Roads Department transfers.

The Supervisors moved into the appointment of Byrnes as an ex-officio, non-voting member of the Allamakee Historical Society Board. Byrnes said that he has attended these meetings in the past and would be glad to serve in this capacity representing the Board of Supervisors. The appointment of Byrnes was approved.

The consideration of signing new Mediacom contracts was next addressed by the Supervisors with Beyer providing an overview of the matter. Beyer discussed the three- and one-year contract options and costs associated with each including different internet speed options.

Beyer discussed plans for Director Rebecca Hawes of Allamakee County Relief Services to move her office space to the County Courthouse with that office currently on a month-to-month contract for Mediacom’s internet services. The Supervisors were in agreement to table this matter for further review and discussion.

The Supervisors moved into the consideration of signing Amendment 3 to the contract with Upper Explorerland Regional Planning Commission (UERPC) relating to the Comprehensive Plan and the Agreement for additional work. Following discussion with Beyer, the Supervisors approved to sign both documents allowing these services to move forward with UERPC.

Attorney John Anderson addressed the next agenda item relating to the consideration of changes to the Allamakee County employee handbook. Anderson discussed updates to the language in the employee handbook clarifying matters specific to hourly non-exempt employees and compensatory time, or flex time as it is often referred to.

Anderson explained that non-exempt employees working over 40 hours, with supervisor approval, are allowed compensatory time rather than overtime pay. Anderson added that those employees scheduled for 35 hours but working up to 40 hours can receive their regular hourly pay for those additional hours or receive flex time, if voluntarily chosen to do so and they have signed a form indicating their decision to do so. Anderson said that exempt employees, unless they fall under white collar exempt, should be treated the same as hourly employees regarding these options. Anderson added that anyone using flex time should be encouraged to use these vacation hours as soon as possible.

Anderson also discussed other matters including expectations relating to the submission of time sheets. The Supervisors approved the changes to the County employee handbook.

Allamakee County Conservation Director Jim Janett provided an overview of the Conservation Board’s request to acquire a canoe access on the Upper Iowa River. Janett indicated that a property owner has expressed interest in selling approximately an acre of land containing an area that has been used as a canoe access for many years. Janett indicated that this purchase would allow for improvements to be made to this area with Janett discussing an approximate cost of $4,500 for the purchase of this land. The Supervisors approved the request to acquire the canoe access on the Upper Iowa River.

Allamakee County Engineer Brian Ridenour discussed the roadway construction plans for Iowa River Drive (A26). Ridenour advised that this asphalt resurfacing project will involve milling, significant grading and various other improvements that will improve visibility. Ridenour explained that this project is planned for next summer with an April letting date. The Supervisors approved the construction plan.

Beyer addressed the next agenda item relating to changes to County COVID-19 policies adopted in Resolution 20.121 and adopting a new resolution with changes. Beyer advised that Assistant Allamakee County Attorney Jill Kistler has removed language relating to the 80 hours of COVID-19 related sick leave provided through the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) with that act ending with the 2020 calendar year. The Supervisors approved the resolution as amended.

Under COVID-19 related items, Allamakee County Emergency Management Coordinator Corey Snitker discussed Governor Kim Reynolds’ recent proclamation rescinding restrictions relating to spectators at school events. Snitker added that some schools may choose to have their own restrictions in place.

Snitker also discussed COVID-19 vaccinations for Tier 1A, which includes health care workers and residents of long-term care facilities. Snitker advised that Tier 1B is yet to be defined but will likely include law enforcement, fire departments and potentially other essential workers with Tier 1C also yet to be defined.

Under Department Head updates, Allamakee County Sheriff Clark Mellick and Ridenour each discussed budget work which is ongoing. Ridenour provided an update relating to the English Bench Watershed and discussed potential repair costs for this project.
Following adjournment, the Supervisors held a budget work session.

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