Supervisors hear feedback on recent mental health resolution, salary increase recommendations for County officials

by Bob Beach

The Allamakee County Board of Supervisors met Monday, January 19 with Bob Lincoln, CEO of County Social Services (CSS), the 22-county region (including Allamakee County) organized to facilitate mental health and developmental disabilities services. Lincoln said that he had read the resolution passed by the Board last week addressing shortfalls in crisis stabilization services statewide and that the resolution does a good job of identifying gaps in the system. He said that CSS is currently developing a program called Lifelong Links in collaboration with Northeast Iowa Agency on Aging, which provides referrals, dispatches social workers and coordinates care and long-term support.
Lincoln noted that the State of Iowa has closed some of its mental health institutions and that Governor Terry Branstad had recently proposed closing two more. He said that the challenge faced by mental health regions is in paying for the capacity to respond to crisis situations in order to decrease the reliance on emergency rooms and jails. He went on to explain that CSS is working on training mental health "first responders" and hopes to expand the role of the Northeast Iowa Juvenile Detention Center in providing an adult crisis center, which could be used to temporarily house those with domestic issues, addictions, psychiatric issues and behavioral needs. By using a system of coordinated care, the need for state institutions could be reduced, although not eliminated. He added that several agencies would need to be integrated in order to coordinate the services needed.
The Board also met with Bill Shafer, Elaine Eadie and Will Ament, all members of the Compensation Board, who presented that board's recommendation for salary increases for elected officials. Shafer said that the Compensation Board's goal for several years has been to bring salaries, which currently range from 61st to 84th compared to other Iowa counties, into alignment with Allamakee's ranking in population, 56th. He said that to that end, the Compensation Board is recommending an increase of $1,500 in annual salary for members of the Allamakee County Board of Supervisors; a $3,800 increase for the County Attorney; a $2,500 increase for the Auditor, Treasurer and Recorder and a $3,100 increase for the Sheriff. Ament said that the Compensation Board's goal is not only to keep good employees, but to reward them as well. The Board of Supervisors will consider the Compensation Board's recommendation during budget discussions in coming weeks.
In other business, the Board met with Head Custodian John Roe, who asked the Board to increase former Head Custodian Mike Gallagher's salary from $14.00 per hour to $15.91 per hour. The Board said that the salary decrease was inadvertent and agreed to increase Gallagher's salary retroactive to the date it was decreased. The Board also reappointed Karen Carlton and Mark Zieman to the Judicial Magistrate Appointing Commission and heard funding requests for the coming fiscal year from Helping Services and the Upper Iowa River Watershed Project.