Supervisors approve cooperative agreement with Bremer County in regard to competitive highway bridge program

by Joe Moses

The Allamakee County Board of Supervisors met in regular session Monday, March 9 to address a full agenda of items including the consideration of a road embargo resolution, a cooperative agreement for a new federal competitive highway bridge program project and a review of the County’s insurance coverage.

During Public Comment, Jack Knight briefly discussed several matters including the fact that the community of Clermont is exploring the potential use of traffic cameras, Fayette County has spent more than anticipated on gravel and that the Postville City Council will be discussing planning and preparedness relating to the coronavirus.

The Supervisors moved into the Liquor License Renewal for the Old Rossville Store with Board Chairperson Larry Schellhammer and Supervisors Dan Byrnes and Dennis Koenig approving this request.

Allamakee County Sheriff Clark Mellick addressed the next agenda item relating to a request to use the County credit card by the Sheriff’s Department. Mellick discussed the annual fee associated with the GoToMeeting video conferencing service necessary for arraignments and attorney communications at the Public Safety Center jail. The Supervisors approved the ongoing use of the County credit card to pay for the annual video conferencing fee.

The Fiscal-Year 2019 First Judicial District Department of Correctional Services Financial Report was accepted and placed on file.

The Board of Supervisors adjourned and reconvened as the Board of Canvassers to address the next matter relating to the canvass of the MFL/MarMac School District special election. Allamakee County Auditor Denise Beyer provided an overview of the special election results indicating that the bond measure did not pass with 60% voter approval being required, which was not met. Beyer provided an overview of the Allamakee County portion of the election results, reporting there were 33 votes received for the bond measure and 41 against within the total of 74 votes cast. The Board of Canvassers accepted the results of the special election and adjourned, with the Board of Supervisors then reconvening.

Beyer discussed the next agenda item relating to a County Auditor’s Office personnel matter. Beyer indicated that Accounting Clerk Karmen Piggott’s six-month probationary period has ended as of March 3 and provided a recommendation to increase Piggott’s current wage of $17.25 per hour to $18 per hour. The Supervisors approved Piggott’s salary increase as of March 3.

Allamakee County Engineer Brian Ridenour provided an overview of the Embargo Road Resolution agenda item, indicating that a majority of asphalt roads are being requested for embargo to include five-ton single axle and seven-ton tandem axle. Ridenour indicated that warmer temperatures and moisture saturation of the sub-base due to frost melt make the embargo necessary and that he has coordinated with Winneshiek County to set the road embargo for the same week. The Embargo Road Resolution was approved.

Ridenour discussed setting a date for a public hearing for vacating a portion of old County Road No. 527, indicating that this road is not Power Plant Drive but rather a dead end, 800-foot extension of that road. Ridenour provided a recommendation to set April 6 at 10 a.m. for the public hearing on this matter, which was approved by the Supervisors. Byrnes further clarified that this is a Class C road on private property.

The Supervisors moved into the consideration of a Cooperative Agreement for a Competitive Highway Bridge Program (CHBP) Project with Bremer County. Ridenour discussed that this is a new Federal program providing aid and allowing a county to bundle bid letting with another county. Ridenour indicated that this competitive highway bridge program funding is made possible through the Division L of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018, which appropriated $225,000,000 to be awarded by the United States Department of Transportation for a competitive highway bridge program for replacement or rehab of bridges. Ridenour advised that one bridge in Allamakee County qualified for this program and is located on B25 (Lansing Harpers Road) over Cota Creek. The Supervisors approved to enter into a cooperative agreement with Bremer County.

Ridenour explained that Federal agreements are coordinated through the Iowa Department of Transportation (IDOT) and that the bridge project on B25 (Lansing Harpers Road) over Cota Creek has a preliminary estimated cost of $700,000 with approximately $382,000 (55%) of that cost being paid by federal aid. The Supervisors approved the Federal aid agreement.

Jane Regan with Upper Iowa Insurance Services provided an overview of Allamakee County’s insurance coverage relating to the County Courthouse and Public Safety Center. Regan discussed specific coverage areas including inland marine, business auto, workers’ compensation and liability coverage. Regan provided an overview of the County’s annual premium and advised that the County has adequate and appropriate coverage limits.

Under Department Head Updates, Ridenour indicated that the Secondary Roads Department is busy with brush cutting, with two motorgraders also out grading roads to repair rough spots. Ridenour also reported that applications are being received for two vacancies in his department until March 12.

Ridenour provided an update on the Health Insurance Committee’s recent meeting with a five percent increase to health insurance premiums being likely. He said a recommendation will be made at the next Supervisors meeting.

Allamakee County Environmental Health Director Laurie Moody discussed that she has viewed new building sites, building expansions and well sites and provided an update on upcoming absences due to training sessions.

Allamakee County Emergency Management Coordinator Corey Snitker discussed planning and preparedness relating to the coronavirus. Snitker indicated that a two-day hazardous material operations course is scheduled for this weekend in Waterville, allowing firefighters to attain a hazardous material response certification. Snitker discussed the flood forecast for this year and that a flood meeting is scheduled in Scott County.

Beyer discussed the MFL/MarMac special election and that the budget public hearing notice is being published in this week’s newspaper (see Page 2B). Beyer discussed being proactive and planning for scenarios relating to staffing and the coronavirus with a virtual private network (VPN) being an option she will be looking into to allow quarantined employees to work from home.

Prior to adjournment, Koenig discussed that County Social Services (CSS) views a proposed one-percent sales tax increase as an opportunity to decrease the use of property tax dollars and provide funding for mental health. Koenig advised that state representatives should be contacted in support of this measure.

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