Supervisors approve appointment of Jill Kistler as Assistant County Attorney and hear Compensation Board recommendation of four-percent wage increase for elected officials

by Joe Moses

The Allamakee County Board of Supervisors met three times within a week around the transition between calendar years for the final meeting of 2018, the first meeting of 2019 addressing organizational matters and the first regular Monday session of the new year held January 7. Coverage of all three meetings follows.

During the Public Comment portion of the Monday, December 31 meeting, Executive Director Val Reinke with Allamakee County Economic Development (ACED) discussed grant funding to be used in the creation of an Allamakee County promotional video. Reinke indicated that director and filmmaker Jack Meggers will be involved in the project showcasing area businesses, companies and activities within the county, and she also advised that the video will be shared on social media and by various organizations and businesses on their websites.

Reinke discussed the upcoming Iowa Tourism Conference with the Driftless Education and Visitors Center in Lansing having been nominated as Attraction of the Year. Reinke provided information about the First Day Hike taking place at Yellow River State Forest January 1 and indicated that an updated labor market study will be completed in the near future.

Executive Director Lora Friest and Associate Director Paul Berland of Northeast Iowa Resource Conservation and Development (RC&D) discussed the organization’s Fiscal-Year 2020 funding requests and provided an overview of ongoing and recent projects. These projects include:

- Northeast Iowa Regional Urban Stormwater Demonstration Project
- Local Foods and Farmers Markets (marketing and branding)
- Turkey River Watershed Management Authority (TRWMA)
- Iowa Byways Sustainability Project
- GIS Technical Assistance and GIS Roadside Inventories
- Administration of Grants
- Monarch Habitat and Pollinator Project
- Brownfield Planning (Postville downtown and railroad corridor economic development initiatives, community art projects and business development).

Allamakee County Auditor Denise Beyer presented information relating to the next agenda item involving the consideration of voiding outstanding warrants over a year old. Beyer advised that seven checks issued over a year ago by the County have not been cashed. The motion to void outstanding warrants was approved.

Under Department Head Updates, Allamakee County Engineer Brian Ridenour provided an update on the English Bench Site #9 Watershed, indicating that the dam has been breached allowing some water flow. Ridenour discussed the watershed’s level of silt. Ridenour also discussed weather and road condition preparations for the Secondary Roads Department.

Beyer indicated that a committee of county auditors recently met to review options related to the combining of city and school elections, a mandatory change following 2017 legislation taking effect in 2019. Beyer discussed potential election reimbursement scenarios for cities and schools. Supervisor Dan Byrnes advised that a final recommendation from the committee of auditors be used for consistency with neighboring counties in calculating combined city and school election reimbursements.

Allamakee County Auditor Denise Beyer called the Wednesday, January 2 meeting to order, with the appointment of Larry Schellhammer as Board Chairperson and Dennis Koenig as Chairperson Pro-Tem for 2019 being approved. There was no Public Comment.

The Supervisors approved Mondays at 9:30 a.m. as the board’s meeting day and time for 2019. The Supervisors discussed options related to Public Comment, opting to continue allowing ten minutes at the beginning of each meeting. The Supervisors were in agreement that Public Comment is important in hearing concerns and feedback from the public and that in cases where comments are likely to go beyond the allotted time, members of the public are advised to have the matter added to the following week’s agenda to allow formal discussion with the Supervisors.

The appointment of Supervisors to various Boards, Committees and Commissions was discussed. Koenig agreed to be appointed to the Northeast Iowa Regional Housing Trust Fund with Schellhammer acting as the alternate. Schellhammer agreed to be appointed to the committee working with the Allamakee County Farm. Other assignments were continued from 2018.

The Supervisors approved to keep the claim due dates and pay dates the same as 2018, being the second and fourth Monday of each month. The Standard newspaper in Waukon and The Postville Herald were named as official newspapers of the County.

The Supervisors set the mileage rate reimbursement at 40 cents per mile, the same as the 2018 mileage rate. Bounty amounts were approved to continue at $5 per coyote and 50 cents per pair of gopher paws with 10 pair per bag requested.

Appointments to the 2019 Compensation Commission and County Boards and Commissions, as needed, were discussed and approved. Laurie Moody was appointed as 2019 Weed Commissioner.

The Supervisors moved into the consideration of wages for precinct officials, approving $8.25 per hour for precinct officials and $10 per hour for chairpersons.

Allamakee County Recorder Deb Winke addressed the next agenda item involving a resolution involving personnel. Winke requested that Clerk Karen Mathis’s title be changed to Second Deputy while remaining at current salary for the remainder of the fiscal year, which was approved by the Supervisors.

Newly-elected Allamakee County Attorney Anthony Gericke provided a recommendation to appoint former County Attorney Jill Kistler to the part-time position of Assistant County Attorney at a salary of $46,002.00. Kistler has served as the Allamakee County Attorney for the past eight years after being elected in 2010 and re-elected in 2014, but she did not seek re-election to that office this past year.

Gericke discussed Kistler’s experience and knowledge as being beneficial and allowing for a seamless transition. Gericke indicated that no other applications were received for the position. In discussing the proposed appointment of a former County Attorney as Assistant County Attorney, Gericke indicated that he believes this is not setting a precedent and that such a transition has occurred in other counties as well. Kistler was approved by the board as Assistant County Attorney.

The Supervisors approved the Resolution Authorizing Engineer to Execute the Certification of Final Completion of Work for all Farm-to-Market and Federal or State Aid Construction Projects. The Construction Evaluation (Master Matrix) Resolution was also adopted by the Supervisors.

The Supervisors appointed Allamakee County Emergency Management Coordinator Corey Snitker as alternate voter for the Board of Supervisors on the Northeast Iowa Response Group. Koenig commended Snitker for his work and involvement with this group.

Under Department Head Updates, Allamakee County Sheriff Clark Mellick indicated that it was a quiet weekend with some arrests over the New Year holiday. Mellick discussed matters related to water usage at the Public Safety Center.

Snitker discussed upcoming meetings and budget work and that one full-scale and one tabletop exercise are being planned. Beyer provided an update on ballots for the upcoming Postville Community School District election and that budget-related work is ongoing.

Following the board meeting, the Supervisors held a budget work session for Fiscal-Year 2020.
During the Public Comment portion of the board’s Monday, January 7 regular session, Mark Reiser of Lansing discussed concerns related to secondary roads which have become difficult to drive on due to mud. Reiser advised that testing of gravel and standards used by the County be improved upon. Gene Averhoff of Dorchester expressed similar concerns regarding road conditions and gravel quality. Board Chairperson Larry Schellhammer indicated that the Supervisors would communicate their concerns to Allamakee County Engineer Brian Ridenour and discuss the matter in more detail at the next Six-County meeting as well.

Loreen Houdek of Burr Oak and Janel Clarke of Waukon discussed the Fiscal-Year 2020 funding request for the Horse and Soul Ranch, a non-profit organization providing holistic equine therapy services to trauma victims, abuse survivors, adults, children and veterans with emotional and mental health needs. Houdek indicated that $3,500 is being requested of Allamakee County with requests of Howard and Winneshiek to be made as well based on percentages of clients served in those counties. Houdek indicated that the Horse and Soul Ranch is currently a non-profit under the Freedom Horses non-profit organization of Weatherford, TX with the goal of becoming a local non-profit in the near future. Houdek discussed that children will be the client focus this fiscal-year.

Director Deanna Hageman with Northeast Iowa Retired Senior and Volunteer Program (RSVP) discussed the organization’s funding request for Fiscal-Year 2020. Hageman indicated that the organization’s number of volunteers has continued to grow with over 4,700 Allamakee County volunteer hours contributed last year. Hageman advised that for every dollar invested in RSVP, there is approximately a $9 return for communities based upon contributed volunteer hours worked. Hageman discussed RSVP’s involvement with the new food pantry in Lansing as a recent addition and ongoing work with blood drives, Horse and Soul Ranch, the Humane Society and Meals on Wheels. Hageman advised that she will be meeting with Allamakee County Emergency Management Coordinator Corey Snitker about volunteer planning for emergency situations.

The Supervisors moved into the Compensation Board recommendation for Fiscal-Year 2020 elected official salaries. Compensation Board member Bill Shafer indicated that the board met in December and is providing a four percent across the board recommendation for County employees. Schellhammer indicated that the board’s recommendation would be taken into consideration with other budget requests.

Regional Coordinator Kristie Wiltgen discussed Northeast Iowa Area Agency on Aging’s (NEI3A) Fiscal-Year 2020 funding request. Wiltgen provided an overview of the organization’s services involving programs that assist the elderly in living independently including counseling, case management, Meals on Wheels, Tai Chi, Fresh Conversations and the Lifelong Links call center. Wiltgen made a funding request of $4,200, representing a dollar for each of the approximately 4,200 Allamakee County residents age 60 or over.

The Supervisors reviewed and approved transfers to the Secondary Roads Department of $165,947.32 from the Rural Services Fund and $13,227.12 from the General Basic Fund. The Manure Management Plan Update for Saffron, LLC was also accepted and placed on file.

The Supervisors moved into discussion of quarry scale requirements with representatives of Rainbow Quarry, Bruening Rock Products, Mielke’s Quarry and Strong Rock and Gravel in attendance. Dan Bechtel with Rainbow Quarry provided an overview of a handout containing Iowa Code relating to quarry license, inspection stickers, tags for inaccurate or incorrect devices and weighing beyond the factory-rated scale capacity.

Feedback from representatives of other quarries was heard with Ridenour summarizing that two key issues are being discussed including scale licensing from the Iowa Department of Agriculture and scale certification to verify that accuracy requirements and industry standards are being met. Schellhammer recommended that Bureau Chief Randy Watts with the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship Weights and Measures Bureau be part of this discussion at a future Board of Supervisors meeting.

The Supervisors discussed 2019 Board appointments and changes with Byrnes to be appointed to the County Farm Committee and Schellhammer to be appointed to the Resource Conservation and Development (RC&D) Board and as an alternate on the County Social Services (CSS) Board of Directors.

The Supervisors approved the discussed appointment changes.

Under Department Head Updates, Ridenour further discussed rock quality and the effect of ice and weather conditions on secondary roads. Allamakee County Auditor Denise Beyer indicated that absentee voting for the Postville Community School District special election is beginning and that budget work is ongoing. Following adjournment of the board meeting, the Supervisors held a Fiscal-Year 2020 budget work session with Department Heads.

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