Supervisors give approval to interim financing proposal for Driftless Area Education and Visitor Center

by Joe Moses

The Allamakee County Board of Supervisors met in regular session Monday, October 10 to address a variety of topics, including consideration of a Board appointment policy, an interim financing proposal for the Driftless Area Education and Visitor Center, and a temporary closure for Columbus Road to begin this week. There were no comments during the Public Comments portion of the meeting.

Allamakee County Planning and Zoning Administrator Tom Blake discussed the plat approvals for Gary L. and Karen L. Galema and Gary L. and Ellen R. Brown. The Galema plat required a minor change to include a legend on the map that was submitted. This omission prevented the approval from taking place at a previous meeting. The Brown plat involved the sale of one and a half acres of wooded land to a neighbor living on an adjacent property. Both plats were approved by the Supervisors.

Quarterly reports were submitted by Blake and Allamakee County Auditor Denise Beyer, both of which were accepted and placed on file. Funds transfers in the amount of $58,541,79 from the General Fund and $688,321.10 from the Rural Services Fund were approved for transfer to the Secondary Roads Department. This is a routine quarterly transfer based on a percentage from a tax levy.

A finalized version of the County's board appointment policy was presented by Beyer for approval. Beyer had made some changes to the policy following discussion at a previous meeting. The Supervisors approved the board appointment policy as presented.

The Lease Extension for the Old Sidwell Drafts of Ownership documents was discussed. Palmer Abstract, Inc. has agreed to continue to store the Old Sidwell Drafts of Ownership for Allamakee County, as both Palmer Abstract and Allamakee County benefit from that agreement. The County does not have to provide or find storage space for the documents and Palmer Abstract will have access to these documents, which they need for researching county land records. Assistant County Attorney Richard White prepared the agreement that extends the arrangement for 10 years at no cost. The Supervisors approved the lease extension.

Beyer also provided an update on time tracking options for County employees affected by changes in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) overtime policy. Employees who are now exempt from overtime will become non-exempt December 1 due to FLSA changes. Employees earning less than $913 per week ($47,476 annually) will become non-exempt and can earn overtime pay.

Beyer advised that employees can be required to earn comp time instead of being paid overtime hours and explained that, as of July 1, even exempt employees are filling out time sheets to report sick and vacation time used. Beyer said that six or seven County employees would be affected by this change, and she recommended that, as of December 1, exempt employees could switch to using the standard time sheets for reporting hours worked. The other option would include using a computerized service for clocking in and out and require an additional expense per employee, as well as software fees. The Board agreed with Beyer's recommendation to use the standard time sheets for all employees.

Allamakee County Conservation Director Jim Janett discussed an easement necessary for a turn-around area near the Driftless Area Education and Visitor Center. The easement was approved.

Janett also discussed an interim financing proposal for the Driftless Area Education and Visitor Center, explaining that Kerndt Brothers Savings Bank has agreed to provide a three-year $500,000 line of credit as interim financing for the Center. Janett specified that $500,000 is not being borrowed but is available, if necessary, to meet demands in the interim before scheduled grants and scheduled payments from other funding sources are received. He explained that, as a revolving line of credit, it will be paid down as grant and other funds are received throughout the year. The Supervisors approved the interim financing proposal.

Allamakee County Engineer Brian Ridenour discussed the temporary closure of Columbus Road for grading and paving. This will involve an 800-foot section of road adjacent to the Driftless Center starting Wednesday, October 12.  The Supervisors approved the Columbus Road closure.

Under Department Head Updates, Allamakee County Emergency Management Coordinator Corey Snitker advised that he will be attending a Homeland Security conference in Des Moines Wednesday and Thursday this week. Snitker plans to discuss with several contacts about the debris clean-up in the Big Slough area where the Upper Iowa River empties into the Mississippi River. He said the flood events of August and September have created a debris field consisting of trees and man-made debris that needs to be cleaned up with the assistance of either FEMA or private organizations. The FEMA option is the primary route Snitker said he is pursuing. Snitker advised that FEMA will be in the County this week performing assessments regarding flood damage.

Ridenour advised that the concrete is done being poured on Cherry Valley Drive and rock for the road shoulders is next. Ridenour said paving of the road shoulder on the Great River Road should also start this week and that hauling sand will begin soon in anticipation of the winter season.

Beyer advised that Hacker & Nelson will be present auditing this week. She said absentee ballots continue to come in and that, so far, there have been 1,100 absentee ballots received.