Supervisors postpone public hearing on maximum property tax levy pending State of Iowa legislation, approve use of American Rescue Plan Act funding for required voting machine upgrades

by Joe Moses

The Allamakee County Board of Supervisors met in regular session Monday, February 13 to address a full agenda of matters including the consideration of changing the Maximum Levy Public Hearing date, the approval of a Resolution allocating American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds for election items and the consideration of personnel matters relating to the Allamakee County Auditor’s office and the Allamakee County Sheriff’s office.

Board chairperson Dan Byrnes called the meeting to order with Supervisors Mark Reiser and Dennis Keatley present for this meeting. There was no Public Comment during the time allotted for that agenda item.

The meeting moved into the Manure Management Plan update corrections for Scott Sanness. Allamakee County Auditor Denise Beyer noted that some corrections or additions were made to this plan per direction of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) with the Supervisors then accepting and placing the update on file following review of the matter.

The Liquor License Renewal for the Old Rossville Store in Rossville was reviewed by the Supervisors. That matter was then approved.

Allamakee County Sheriff Clark Mellick discussed a request to use the County credit card to purchase a cell phone booster to be installed in a patrol vehicle. Mellick noted the need for this equipment which increases cell phone signals in areas where cell phone reception may not otherwise be possible. He further discussed the need and value of this equipment in emergency situations in rural or remote areas of the county. The Supervisors approved the use of the County credit card for the purchase of this equipment, which is not to exceed $550.

Mellick also addressed the next agenda item relating to the consideration of a personnel matter. Mellick provided a recommendation to hire Kourtney Stone as a part-time dispatcher at a salary set by Union contract with a start date of Monday, February 13. The Supervisors approved that recommendation.

The meeting moved into the consideration of appointing Year 2023 Compensation Commission members. Beyer and the Supervisors reviewed an updated list of Compensation Commission members for 2023 with some discussion taking place relating to the recruitment of additional members to fill vacancies. Beyer discussed the make-up of this commission’s four membership categories to include agricultural property owners and operators, licensed real estate salespersons or brokers, city property owners, and bankers and auctioneers, in addition to other professionals involved in property management, appraisals or loans.

Beyer further explained the role of this commission with members potentially called upon to provide recommendations relating to property values and damages relating to eminent domain. Following discussion and review, the Supervisors approved the list of appointed Compensation Commission members for 2023 as presented.

Beyer addressed the next matter relating to changing the Maximum Levy Public Hearing date from February 27 to March 6 at 9:40 a.m. Beyer explained that pending legislation from the State of Iowa may impact taxable valuations which in turn may affect the Maximum Levy to be established. The Supervisors approved Monday, March 6 at 9:40 a.m. as the date and time for the Maximum Levy Public Hearing.

Beyer also discussed the next agenda item relating to the consideration of a Resolution to allocate American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds for election items. Beyer noted that an upgrade for the physical voting machines is required and that a quote of $77,742 has been provided relating to this equipment purchase. She discussed a recommendation to purchase Modus elections software as an upgrade to better perform election related functions.

Beyer advised that a $3,500 one-time installation fee would be necessary with an annual subscription fee of $3,454 including one-year or two-year payments being options. Following discussion, the Supervisors approved the Resolution allocating ARPA funds for election items to not exceed $80,000 for voting machines and a one-year subscription and installation fee for Modus election software not to exceed $7,500.

The meeting moved into the consideration of a personnel matter. Beyer noted that Michelle Gress currently works 24 hours weekly in the Allamakee County Treasurer’s office with Beyer recommending that Gress be allowed to work 10-12 hours in the Allamakee County Auditor’s office at her current hourly wage to assist with real estate.

Beyer further noted that Gress would qualify for health insurance as of March 1 due to this schedule change and full-time status and that Gress’s employment in the Auditor’s office would be temporary through June 30 with her information technology (IT) responsibilities starting July 1 in addition to her regular hours in the Treasurer’s office. The Supervisors approved Gress to work 10-12 hours per week in the Auditor’s office at her current wage effective January 31, 2023 through June 30, 2023.

Under Department Head updates, Allamakee County Emergency Management Coordinator Corey Snitker advised that a tabletop exercise relating to the economic recovery support function is being planned for March 8 and that he anticipates this to be a three-hour event. Snitker noted that the County’s Hazard Mitigation Plan update is going well with updates relating to cities, schools and county-wide procedures being part of this process. Snitker added that having this planning in place will also be beneficial in pursuing federal funding and grants in the future. Snitker also briefly discussed the County Building/Public Safety Plan.
Mellick discussed a recent conversation with Dr. Dave Schwartz relating to the potential pursuit of grant funding to add community-based mental health services. Mellick further explained the community-based mental health concept, which he indicated would involve more home-based visits to take place between regular appointments with patients’ mental health service providers to help avoid crisis situations.

Allamakee County Zoning Administrator Stephanie Runkle noted that the Planning and Zoning Commission is holding a Public Hearing Monday, February 20 at 5 p.m. in the Allamakee County Courthouse Board of Supervisors Room relating to the creation of rural subdivisions. Runkle added that a notice relating to this public hearing appears on the Public Notices page within the Wednesday, February 15 edition of The Standard. Runkle discussed a variety of considerations relating to rural subdivisions and potential requirements relating to zoning, lot size, among other matters which will be discussed and are open to public feedback at the February 20 Public Hearing.

Beyer noted that work is ongoing relating to budgets. Prior to adjournment and following the business portion of the meeting, the Supervisors moved into a work session to discuss a variety of budget-related matters.