Supervisors approve April 3 letting date for gravel road rock bids, hear update on Statewide Tornado Drill being set for March 29

by Joe Moses

The Allamakee County Board of Supervisors met in regular session Monday, March 13 to address a full agenda of matters including the Canvass of the March 7 Postville Special Election, the 2023 Statewide Tornado Drill, and Quarterly Reports from County Environmental Health and the County Auditor. The meeting was called to order by Board of Supervisors Chairperson Dan Byrnes with Supervisors Mark Reiser and Dennis Keatley present.

There was no Public Comment during the time allotted for that agenda item. The meeting moved into the Canvass of the March 7 Postville Special Election relating to the proposed Hotel/Motel Tax. Procedurally, the Supervisors adjourned and reconvened as the Board of Canvassers with Allamakee County Auditor Denise Beyer providing an overview. Beyer noted that 43 voters participated in the election with 40 “yes” and 3 “no” votes received with a further breakdown of votes cast to include 36 “yes” and 3 “no” from Allamakee County voters and 4 “yes” and 0 “no” from Clayton County.

Beyer added that both Allamakee County and Clayton County voters used the same voting machine with Clayton County exercising its option to have Allamakee County canvass its portion of votes, which was below the 125-vote threshold requiring each county to perform its own canvass. The motion for the City of Postville to adopt a Hotel/Motel Tax at the rate of seven-percent within its corporate limits was approved. Procedurally, the Board of Canvassers then adjourned, with the Board of Supervisors then reconvening.

The meeting moved into the next matter relating to the 2023 Statewide Tornado Drill scheduled for Wednesday, March 29, 2023 with Allamakee County Emergency Management Coordinator Corey Snitker providing an overview. Snitker noted that the month of March is a transition of seasons with springtime severe weather becoming a matter of concern.

Snitker advised that the National Weather Service has set March 27-31 as Severe Weather Awareness Week with a Statewide Tornado Drill set for Wednesday, March 29 at 10 a.m. He added that the Allamakee County Courthouse and other County buildings will hold a tornado drill at that same time, 10 a.m. Wednesday, March 29. Snitker noted that the County Treasurer’s office and the County Courtroom are aware of the tornado drill with services and proceedings to continue as necessary during this drill, with all other courthouse staff anticipated to go to the designated shelter area.

Snitker noted that all six cities within the county will be sounding their tornado sirens as part of this exercise and that he is reaching out to long-term care facilities, schools and healthcare providers to notify them about the tornado drill. Snitker added that a press release will be provided to the local newspaper and radio relating to the Statewide Tornado Drill in addition to two to three severe weather awareness articles over the next month for newspaper publication.

Snitker advised that the County Courthouse is the designated shelter for the City of Waukon with a plan in place with assistance from the Waukon Police Department in severe weather situations. Byrnes questioned what would be done if there was a potential severe weather situation during the timing of the scheduled tornado drill, with Snitker advising that the drill would be rescheduled in that case. Snitker clarified that warning sirens are activated during a threat of tornado, hail in excess of one and a half inches and high winds.

Quarterly Reports for Allamakee County Environmental Health and the County Auditor were presented to the Supervisors. Beyer noted that these reports cover October through December and were delayed due to staffing changes and departmental transfers. Following review, the Supervisors accepted and placed both quarterly reports on file.

The meeting moved into the consideration of authorizing the County Auditor to move funds for the Partially Self-Funded Insurance Account for interest earning purposes. Byrnes noted recent budget discussions relating to this matter involving the County employee health insurance plan. Byrnes explained that the employee health plan is a $5,000 deductible policy with the Partially Self-Funded Insurance Account allowing a $1,000 deductible, with the difference or gap between the $5,000-$1,000 deductible funded through this account.

Byrnes further advised that the Partially Self-Funded Account allows for additional flexibility in the insurance marketplace by allowing for the County to potentially buy down some of the premium with the main goal of the account being to fund the deductible difference. The Supervisors agreed to allow the movement of funds into a 12-month CD at a higher interest rate while keeping the funds with FreedomBank. Following discussion, the Supervisors approved to authorize the movement of funds at the discretion of the County Auditor and Deputy County Auditor.

The Supervisors next addressed the consideration of setting a letting date for gravel road rock. Allamakee County Engineer Brian Ridenour provided a recommendation to set 10 a.m. April 3 as the letting date for taking bids for gravel road rock. Ridenour added that this project will require 124,942 tons of Class A stone separated into seven divisions covering 421 miles. The Supervisors approved the letting date as recommended.

Byrnes noted that the next agenda item relating to the Health Insurance Committee’s Fiscal-Year 2024 (FY24) recommendation has been tabled and would be addressed at a future time.

The meeting moved into Department Head updates with Snitker advising that the economic recovery support tabletop exercise went well and that he plans to meet with a few individuals with schedule conflicts in the next couple weeks to go over the results and notes from that exercise. Snitker noted that the County’s draft of a recovery support plan has gone well with the assistance of the State of Iowa being appreciated.

Snitker further noted that the County’s Hazard Mitigation Plan update is wrapping up with the final team meeting scheduled for Tuesday, March 14 at the Allamakee County Sheriff’s office. Snitker noted that the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Waukon is scheduled for Sunday, March 19 which has been forecasted as a cold day with a high of 34 degrees. He discussed precipitation in the forecast with snow likely to end Saturday, March 18 prior to the parade Sunday in Waukon.

Snitker noted that the next Emergency Management Commission Meeting is scheduled for April 3 with some bylaws and policies to be reviewed. Snitker also discussed a National Weather Service webinar relating to the La Crosse area flood outlook. He noted that there are concerns about flooding along the main stem of the Mississippi River with there being less concern about the flood outlook for tributaries, including the Upper Iowa River. Snitker noted that there is a 50-percent chance of flooding along the Mississippi River, according to the National Weather Service’s outlook.

Ridenour discussed weather-related gravel road conditions impacted by freeze/thaw, rain and snow. He noted that the amount of road rock discussed earlier in the meeting is a little more than in previous years for gravel road maintenance. Ridenour also discussed upcoming scheduled meetings.

Beyer advised that the Notice of Public Hearing for the Proposed Property Tax Levy will appear in this week’s newspaper with that Public Hearing scheduled to take place Monday, March 27 at 9:40 a.m. in the Supervisors Board Room as part of that week’s Board of Supervisors meeting.

Prior to adjournment, the Supervisors moved into a Budget Work Session to discuss a variety of matters relating to the Fiscal-Year 2024 (FY24) County Budget.