Supervisors hear statement regarding Alliant Energy and the Eastern Allamakee Community School District

by Joe Moses

The Allamakee County Board of Supervisors met in regular session Monday, July 13 to address a short agenda of items including Quarterly Reports from the County Recorder, Relief and Veterans Affairs offices, consideration of a County Courthouse Information Technology (IT) position and consideration of the roadway maintenance agreement between the City of Waukon, the Iowa Department of Transportation (IDOT) and Allamakee County.

During Public Comment, Executive Director Val Reinke of Allamakee County Economic Development (ACED) discussed a statement written by Superintendent Dale Crozier of the Eastern Allamakee School Community District addressing concerns relating to the impact of an Alliant Energy power plant closure, if that were to happen.

Reinke read aloud a draft of Crozier’s written statement providing details about the relationship between the Eastern Allamakee Community School District and Alliant Energy. The statement indicated that Eastern Allamakee Community School District will not be affected at all if Alliant Energy would close, further outlining the following four points:

1) If the power plant were to close, it would not affect the operations of the school and would not cause the Eastern Allamakee School District to close. Crozier’s statement commented on the positive relationship Alliant Energy has with the community but indicated that whether or not Alliant remains open will not be a deciding factor to the school with the amount of Iowa school district revenue being based solely on enrollment and not property valuation;

2. The Iowa School Equalization Formula, which generates state aid, would cause the revenue lost in the general fund from Alliant to be replaced. Crozier’s statement indicated that the school district would lose no money in its general operating fund;

3. Eastern Allamakee is one of a handful of school districts with a power plant and in each case the valuation towards the school is capped by state action at approximately $41 million, which constitutes only 18% of the district’s total valuation. Crozier’s statement indicated that, comparatively speaking, taxes within the school district are low. If Alliant were to close and nothing else changed, one would need to have a lot of personal property value to notice any tax increase, and that there is a plan to alleviate that as well;

4. At the Eastern Allamakee School District business office at Lansing, business managers Janet Heiderscheit and Marian Verdon have designed a plan which Crozier endorses to create no change in school taxation if Alliant were to close. Crozier’s statement indicated that the school district currently has a bond payment set to be paid off in four years which will now involve a double-payment with funds the district either currently has or is known to be getting which will cause the district to be debt free, which is another plus.

Crozier’s statement indicated that the district will plan to coincide this with the time if Alliant were to close and therefore create a zero sum gain effect. Crozier’s statement indicated that school districts are financially driven by enrollment and not property valuation and that Eastern Allamakee currently has a strong unspent balance and has maintained solvency and there is no reason to panic. Crozier’s statement indicated that the district must continue to be diligent and continue to find creative ways to maximize its resources.

Crozier’s statement continued by indicating that the main necessity and goal of Eastern Allamakee is to maintain enrollment and the largest loss of Alliant Energy to the local community would be any economic development and future families that might have had children. In conclusion, Crozier’s statement indicated that the community’s future task is finding ways to gain families who want to live and raise their children in a nice small town.

Reinke advised that the statement is being distributed to the newspaper and will be in the school newsletter. Board Chairperson Larry Schellhammer advised that he read Crozier’s statement over the weekend and described it as being a good educational piece relating to how schools are funded while helping clear up misconceptions.

Reinke advised that the Farmers Market in Waukon will take place later that same day with the Harpers Ferry Farmers Market scheduled for Friday night and Music in the Park scheduled for Thursday. Reinke also advised the Board of the grand opening of the Dollar Fresh store, at the former Shopko location in Waukon, to take place at 7 a.m. this Friday, July 17.

The Supervisors reviewed quarterly reports from the County Recorder, Relief Office and Veterans Affairs, which were all accepted and placed on file. The liquor license renewal for the Knotty Pine Tavern in Dorchester was reviewed and approved.

Allamakee County Engineer Brian Ridenour addressed the next agenda item relating to the consideration of a roadway maintenance agreement between the City of Waukon, IDOT and Allamakee County. Ridenour reported that this is the yearly agreement with no changes from the previous year for snow and ice control maintenance. The Supervisors approved the maintenance agreement.

The Supervisors moved into the consideration of a County Courthouse IT position. It was discussed that First Deputy Recorder Laurie Welch has served as the courthouse’s IT contact in addition to her other duties but will be retiring as of July 31. Plans to have GIS Coordinator Jon Luchsinger assume IT duties for the courthouse as of August 1 were discussed with Appraiser Jean Brink and Office Manager Kristy Roney, both from the County Assessor’s Office, to serve as back-ups when Luchsinger is not available. For these added responsibilities, it was discussed that Luchsinger will be paid $5,000 per year with Brink and Roney each receiving $1,000 per year.

Allamakee County Assessor Ann Burckart advised Luchsinger’s primary role as GIS Coordinator with IT to be secondary. Burckart also discussed her role in maintenance of the County’s website and that if an upgrade or update were to take place, that role may need to reevaluated.

Without discussion of COVID-19 related items, the Supervisors moved into Department Head updates with Ridenour advising that the White Pine Bridge has been removed as of last week. Ridenour discussed other ongoing projects and said that a lot of tree clean-up has taken place following last Thursday’s storm.

Allamakee County Auditor Denise Beyer advised that she is waiting on the Business Property Tax Credit (BPTC) from the State of Iowa necessary for preparation of tax statements, which are likely to be done by the end of July and delivered to tax payers in early August.
 

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