Board of Supervisors hears about funding suggestions for proposed jail/safety center, change in health insurance

by Bob Beach

During public comment time at the regular meeting of the Allamakee County Board of Supervisors Tuesday, October 7, Tom Baxter of rural Waukon told the Board that while he supports the construction of a new jail and public safety center, he believes that the Board should consider selling a portion of the cropland at the County Farm to help fund the proposed project.
Board Chairman Larry Schellhammer said that it would be very controversial to sell a County asset like that, but the Board would consider it as an option if wide public support for the sale could be demonstrated.
Supervisor Sherry Strub said that she believes that many people are not hearing the "up to" part of the up to $4.9 million bond referendum, pointing out that the $4.9 million figure is the maximum amount to be borrowed to fund the project. She said that the Board could consider different funding options after the passage of the bond referendum, such as the sale of County land or drawing from the County's cash reserves so that less money could be borrowed and the corresponding levy could be lessened.
Dan Byrnes of Waukon, the Democratic nominee for a seat on the Board of Supervisors in the November 4 general election, told the Board that he believes it may be better to use the proceeds for the rent collected for the County Farm land to pay down the bond, rather than sell the land.
The Board also met with Chris Sanscraint representing the County's health insurance carrier, Gundersen Health Plan, who told the Board that the Mayo Clinic Health System had elected to discontinue its contract as a provider for the Gundersen Health Plan. He told the Board that this means that effective January 1, 2015, County employees covered under the County's group health insurance plan would no longer be covered if they receive healthcare from a Mayo provider.

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